The Beautiful Terrible Cross

The beautiful, terrible cross – that’s a contradiction. How can something be beautiful yet terrible? How could Jesus, who is perfect, die for sinners? It doesn’t make sense. But that’s the beauty of it all. Something SO terrible was counted beautiful because of the “beautiful One” who gave Himself for us.

“…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Hebrews 12:1b-2

Who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross…

Sometimes it seem as if Jesus Christ is too good to be true. What could have possibly been the joy set before Him? What could it be that would make Jesus, the Son of God, suffer and die for us on the cross?

During church yesterday, one brother’s thought was as follows, “Perhaps the joy set before Him, was knowing that we would come together as the Body of Christ every Sunday morning to worship His name.” To me, with the knowledge I have of Jesus and the relationship I have with Him, I’d have to agree with this brother. I’m sure that true worship bring the Lord so much joy, that and many other things that give Him all the glory. Can you imagine giving your life for someone who doesn’t realize how much you love him? And then years later, the person realizes and remembers what you did for him and begins to live life like you. I would want to be just like the person who died for me. Reality check – Jesus died for me. Like really. He really died for me. This really happened. Am I living my life to be just like Him?

“For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselvesbut for Him who died for them and rose again.”

2 Corinthians 5:14-15

I think it’s easy for us to read portions in the Word, like Isaiah 53, and “feel bad” for what Jesus had to endure for our sake. But do we feel bad enough to realize that none of who we are is because of anything we’ve done? No, most of us don’t. Most of us feel bad on Sunday morning, maybe Saturday night. Most of us feel bad after we did something deliberately disobedient. We don’t live a life of humility and complete surrender. We know God’s grace is abundant, but it’s usually not enough for us to live a holy and acceptable life in His sight for more than 2 days after we were completely rebellious against Him. And I’m not saying you should be feeling bad all the time. Because you totally shouldn’t. Ask him for forgiveness, and “go and sin no more.” He is faithful and just to forgive us of all our sins.

Here’s challenge #1. Today – remember what He did for you. Read the portions in the Word that explain EXACTLY what He faced. And then think about how He faced this suffering because YOU were the joy that was set before Him. YOU are His joy. He wanted to win you back. So yes, let’s rejoice that He died for us and gave us the gift of eternal life. But let’s not EVER forget, for a second, how terrible that cross was for Him. Let’s thank Him, always. And remember our lowly estate before He came into our lives.

“And they stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. When they twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying “Hail, King of the Jews!” Then they spat on Him, and took the reed and struck Him on the head. And when they mocked Him, they took the robe off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him away to be crucified.”

Matthew 27:28-31

Now I’m going to be real corny and say this – it’s Love. The beautiful terrible cross, not a contradiction, but Love. The commitment to another for THEIR benefit. For THEIR well-being. For THEIR life. That’s Love, y’all! And it’s so sweet. Jesus Christ, He isn’t too good to be true. Really believe what He did for you was all for you. Don’t just think of this as a story our parents have been telling us since we were a day old. This all really happened. An amazing Man was regarded as nothing for you. He was beaten, humiliated, mocked and put to death for you. I know you know all of this. I know that this isn’t anything new to you. But I also know that Jesus is real and living. He compels us. He constrains us. He controls us. Jesus deserves more than just being some story you’ve heard. He deserves your life. All of you. Everyday. Every second. Now.

We see that all that Jesus did was all about us. None of it was about Him. So, let’s take it a step further. We’ve accepted Christ’s love in our lives. But there’s more to it than that. Here’s challenge #2. Today – love like Christ – completely selfless. Jesus didn’t think twice about dying for us. There weren’t any doubts in His mind that we were worth it. In whatever circumstance life is presenting you right now, exude the love of Christ to ALL those around you. Think about how you can benefit them. maybe it’s telling them the Good News. Or maybe it’s not talking to them at all, but instead praying for them fervently. It may even be an act of kindness. Think about them and not about what’s convenient for you and whether it goes along with your plans. Think of how your love (the Love of Christ, which dwells in you) will lead them to Christ. See their lives as precious. If there are people in your life who clearly love like Christ – encourage them. Tell them you see Jesus in them. Tell them you’re thankful for them. Love like Christ. And I know it will bring a smile to your face. Better yet, it’ll bring a smile to His face.

You are the joy that was set before Him. The hope that you would choose Him was the joy that He looked forward to. You are the reason He endured the cross – the beautiful terrible cross.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

John 3:16

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