BECOMING THE FRIEND OR ENEMY OF THE CROSS OF CHRIST?
By Pastor Paulus Budiono
Lemah Putro, Sunday, December 8, 2019
When we sing the song "Your Word heals me, Your Word saves me, nothing is impossible for You, Jesus I trust in You", do we really believe in the promise of His Word? And do we still believe in the promise of His return even though more than 2,000 years have passed and He has not yet come?
It is undeniable while waiting for the return of the Lord Jesus, we are filled with feelings of joy, hope and anxiety because we are overwhelmed with many obstacles and disturbances. For this reason the Apostle Paul warned, “Brethren, join in following my example and note those who so walk as you have us for a pattern. For many walk, of whom I have told you often and now tell you even weeping that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction whose god is their belly and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.” (Philippians 3:17-19)
At that time the Apostle Paul was in prison and wrote a letter to the Philippians asking them to choose to follow his example and those who lived like him. Why? Because there are people who live as enemies of the cross of Christ; it means the Apostle Paul is a friend of the cross.
Illustration: When we have to choose two people (A and B) who are hostile, we cannot be neutral or choose both. If we choose A that we think is good, B will definitely think we are his enemy. Likewise, if we side with the cross of Christ, the world must hate us; on the contrary, if we side with the world, we become enemies of the cross of Christ (John 15: 18-19).
The Apostle Paul further advises us to stand firm in God (Philippians 4: 1). The admonition to "stand firm" implies that we remain steadfast despite being attacked strongly to make us sway and even fall. What example can we follow from the Apostle Paul? To become a friend of the cross of Christ.
The Apostle Paul exalted the cross of Christ so highly that he said, “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2)
Why is the cross of Christ worthy to be exalted?
- Peter, by the inspiration of the Spirit of God, could correctly answer Jesus' question about who He was (the Son of man), He is the Messiah, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16: 15-16). Immediately Jesus said, “And I also say to you that you are Peter and on this rock I will build My church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” (v. 18)
The Lord's Church will not collapse if she stands firm on the rock of Christ (1 Corinthians 10: 4). Then Jesus told His disciples that He had to go to Jerusalem to endure much suffering and even be killed and resurrected on the third day (Matthew 16:21). Hearing this, Peter immediately took Jesus aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” (v.22)
Did Jesus like to hear Peter's 'defense'? He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” (v.23)
Ironically, Peter had just been inspired by the Spirit of God but quickly turned to the inspiration of Satan. Obviously, Satan entered Peter's mind to reject the cross of Christ. Satan is the enemy of the cross of Christ. The devil also entered the heart of Judas Iscariot to sell his Master (Matthew 26: 14-16) and came into the hearts of Ananias and Sapphira to lie to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5: 1-11).
Evidently Satan is most afraid of the cross and becomes the main enemy or adversary of the cross of Christ Jesus. Don't be surprised when Satan was angry and then encouraged the Jewish people to crucify Jesus. When Jesus was on the cross (although this happened because of the Jews' emotional fury), the chief priests, leaders and people told Jesus to come down from the cross (Mark 15: 29-32). Without realizing it, they rejected the cross of Jesus; even Pilate and Herod suggested that Jesus be freed not to be crucified (Mark 15: 9-15; Luke 23: 13-16).
If Jesus had obeyed what they said and then came down from the cross, salvation for men would never have happened. Jesus knew very well why He had to be crucified; that is why He was willing to suffer tremendously to accomplish His mission.
Introspection: Will we accept Christ with the consequence of being rejected by those around us? Honestly, this is not easy these days, because someday we will be faced with a choice whether we choose the cross of Christ Jesus or the world which means we are enemies of the cross of Christ (James 4: 4)? There is no choice, we must leave the system and worldly way of life if we want to side with His cross.
In the midst of the majority who asked Jesus to come down from the cross, there was a person who didn't want Him to do it namely one of the criminals crucified next to Jesus. He did not join in screaming but used the momentum and believed that Jesus would come as King (Luke 23:42). Jesus immediately said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” (v. 43)
Why is Satan the most afraid of the cross of Christ? Because Jesus' death on the cross destroys Satan's power over death and frees those who are enslaved by fear of death (Hebrews 2: 14-15).
It is true that those who have experienced the cross are marked with death; however, they also have the power of life/resurrection. If we choose the cross of Christ, Satan is powerless. As a result, we are not easily entangled by Satan's temptations, the world and the desires of the flesh (cf. 1 John 2: 15-16). In fact, the churches are often destroyed by the actions of men who reject/oppose the cross of Christ. They are in turmoil – busy thinking about position, wealth and worldly matters.
What are the risks if we choose the cross of Christ? Preaching the cross is foolishness for those who will perish but for those who are saved, this preaching is the power of God (1 Corinthian 1:18). It turned out that the Jews wanted a sign while the Greeks sought wisdom (v. 22).
So, we must be prepared to be insulted, fooled and not be accepted by many parties if we preach the cross of Christ. However, we must continue preaching wherever, whenever and whatever the risks are because the church of God in the end-time is too much suppressed by financial or economic interests, etc. so that the power of Jesus’ preaching and His sacrifice on the cross was reduced even His second return is not seriously anticipated. They carry out worship merely rituals, as a result the church is only a religion.
The Apostle Paul reminded those who belonged to Christ Jesus to choose the cross of Christ. He had crucified the flesh with all its passions and desires (Galatians 5:24). Paul chose not to take pride in anything except in the cross of Christ; thus the world was crucified to him and he to the world (Galatians 6:14).
Before we knew and accepted Jesus, did we not live according to the desires of the flesh so that we lived in hostility to Jesus (Colossians. 1: 21-22)? Now, after living in Him, we can appreciate the Lord's Supper which proclaims His death until His second coming (1 Corinthians 11:26). Our lives are also filled with the Holy Spirit with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, loyalty, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5: 22-23).
Apparently the Apostle Paul asked the Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians etc. to imitate him not with any other purpose except to be pro-cross of Christ. Paul himself modeled on Christ not in His goodness but in the suffering of His death (Philippians 3:10); that is why he was willing to give up all the attributes that were his advantage and pride (vv. 4-8). He was willing to lose everything for Christ's sake.
- Six days before Passover, Jesus and His disciples were invited to a banquet at Lazarus' house. Then Maria, Lazarus and Martha's brother, anointed the head and feet of Jesus with expensive spikenard oil which cost 300 denarii then wiped with her hair. The smell of fragrant oil permeated the whole house. Mary gave all her money to Jesus through the pouring of the pure spikenard oil.
Noticing this, Judas Iskariot commented that it would be better if the oil was sold and the money given to poor. Jesus answered that the poor were always with them but let Mary do so to remember the day of His burial/His death (John 12:1-7). Evidently Judas Iscariot hated the cross of Jesus so much that he finally caused Jesus to be crucified by selling Him for 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 26: 14-15).
The fragrance of spikenard oil was offered to wipe the head of Jesus who is the head of the church and His feet leading to the cross. Mary gave up her treasure for Jesus while Judas Iscariot, on the contrary, sought wealth/money by selling his Master. Mary's actions are remembered throughout the ages but Judas perished with his money. If we are willing to sacrifice to accept the cross, we will receive salvation, not destruction for keeping our treasure.
- The culmination of the cross of Christ are the seven words that Jesus said while being hanged on the cross, namely:
- The word of forgivness
Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
The forgiveness of sins made by Jesus enables us to have salvation in Him. Obviously, our offering and good deeds cannot atone for our sins. It is only because of God's grace that we are saved by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9).
After being filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter, who had denied Jesus, said boldly, “God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ. (Acts 2:36b) “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
So, we are able to do good after we have been forgiven first. Therefore, do not be proud if we can do good because there is no one who is good before God (Romans 3:12).
- The word of salvation
“Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43)
Jesus gave a guarantee for the criminal who repented prior to his death about forgiveness and eternal salvation.
- The word of love
“Woman, behold your son!” - “Behold your mother!” (John 19:26-27)
There is intimacy between parents and children – old and young – because of the work of the cross of Christ. If we accept Jesus, the household will be united, not divided. In other words, divisions occur (even in the church) because they act as enemies of the cross of Christ. Notice, Jesus was crucified and His blood united the Jews with the Gentiles (Ephesians 2:13). Be aware, if we are divided, we oppose to His cross because God in Jesus Christ always works on unity.
- The word of hope
“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34)
The first three words were uttered by Jesus on a clear daylight but His fourth utterance was uttered when darkness covered daylight for three hours.
The Old Testament affirms God hiding Himself from sinners who are polluted with evil (Isaiah 59:2-3). Jesus who is innocent was being smeared with human sins. He took away all the sins from the time of Adam to the sins of this age. That's why God the Father left Him for a moment.
It is no coincidence that natural phenomena occurred where supernatural darkness surrounded the area of crucifixion. Behind this, the dawn of hope soon appeared. The darkness of Golgotha was soon replaced by Jesus Christ, the Light of the world, who gave the gift of eternal life.
- The word of physical suffering
“I thirst! (John 19:28)
Men really need water to survive and ± 80% of human body consists of water. Jesus' thirst was the physical suffering He experienced. However, He refused to drink sour wine which could ease the pain because He did not want to undergo the half torture of the cross because of the effects of the drink. He was willing to undergo torture that led to death for the atonement of men’s sin.
- The word of victory
“It is finished!” (John 19:30)
"It is finished" is a cry of victory because Jesus has completed the task of forgiveness of sins completely, to fulfill all the demands of the Law. He has offered only one sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 10:12).
He loves us (agape) and we should love Him not at the fileo level but until the end as Peter had experienced who was initially only had fileo love but finally he proved his love for Jesus by dying on the cross in an upside down position.
- The word of surrender
“Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” (Luke 23:46)
When Jesus cried for the word of surrender, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom so that we can enter the Most Holy Place – approaching the throne of grace – with courage to get help in time (Hebrews 4:15-16).
Truly we will be very happy if we become friends of the cross of Christ, we will be given hopeful promise that is the eternal life with Him even though we must pay the price of being hated by the world but we do not need to be afraid because He is on our side to protect us (cf. Romans 8 : 16-18). Amen.
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