Links Daily Devotional

At the Cross

…we preach Christ crucified… (1 Corinthians 1:23, NIV)

It is late in the season for our Links Fellowship in Visalia, California. This is a mixed group of men and women, gathering on Wednesday evenings before dinner at the club. Tonight is the first in a three-week November run before we break for the holidays.

Our studies this year have been through the Gospel of John, and tonight we come to the passage in John 19 where Jesus goes to the cross.

We have every form of entertainment available to us in the Western world these days, and golf is among these. And if we are to be honest, we must admit that every one of these entertainments permits us to dismiss difficulty from our minds. Long week at the office? Let’s go to the movies! Don’t want to tackle that waiting household chore right now? Head to the golf course! You know how this works.

The cross of Christ functions in much the opposite way, bringing us face to face with the harshest reality. You can’t dwell on the agony of Jesus and the ecstasy of a birdie at the same time. And that is a good thing.

In 1 Corinthians 1, the apostle Paul wrote that he preached Christ crucified. A few lines later, he said, “I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” Our English word crux derives from the Latin for “cross.” Without a doubt, the cross for Paul was the crux of his teaching. Everything revolved around what Paul resolved to know.

The cross of Christ was the instrument of his love. That in itself is an amazing statement. In the Roman hierarchy of punishment, crucifixion towered above the rest. Love had no part in it. Jesus changed that.

The cross of Christ completed his work. Throughout his life, Jesus spoke of the Father’s plan for him—that he would “go where you cannot,” dying as the perfect sacrifice, the only capable atonement. His blood had to be shed for our forgiveness, no matter how wretched a work this required. But Jesus went through with it, accomplishing the will of the Father. For most, death would be the end of their work. Jesus changed that. His death began the work of redemption for those who place their faith in him.

The cross of Christ remains the symbol of our hope. Today you will see the cross everywhere from church platforms to inked forearms. Sometimes Jesus is depicted there in his death, a reminder of his sacrifice for us. Sometimes the cross is empty, for indeed Jesus is no longer dying but risen. Either way, we are reminded to place our hope in what the Lord has done for us. He has died that his blood might wash over our sins and we might avert the wrath of the Father. He was taken down from the cross by his earliest disciples, those who would dignify him just as we should seek to do. And he is risen from the tomb in which they laid him, enjoying the presence of the Father in the way that we who believe also will do when we too come to die.

Jeff Hopper
November 5, 2014
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