|33At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”)… 37With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. 38The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”|
Read Mark 15:21-41
We are fast approaching the Easter season which is the most important season in the Christian calendar. This is what reminds us the cost that God had to pay so as to restore the fellowship between us and Him that was lost in the Garden of Eden. Too bad that many of us just look at the events of the Easter weekend as though they were just normal happenings of the season… but I want to submit to you that we are who we are today because of what happened at the cross. The death of Jesus Christ at the cross meant a lot to our existence to day.
Women of Faith sang a song about God’s grace…
“But for Your grace I could not be saved
but for your grace I would go my way
I’m forever grateful,
That You have been faithful to me, Lord
for Your amazing grace.”
I equate the word ‘Grace’ to “cross”. Were it not for the Cross, we couldn’t be saves. We could have lost our way and footing in this world and above all, we ought to be grateful for the cross. The cross changed everything that concerns us and has made us to be who we are. The question then arises… What is the cross?
Apostle Paul writes to the church in Corinth and says: “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” |1 Corinthians 1:18| The death of Jesus on the Cross had a lot of significance but very few people can see or recognize so. This is the reason why Paul spoke to the Corinthians and brought this fact to their attention. And I sit down and wonder how many such Christians we have today who haven’t still recognized the “Power of the Cross” where our Saviour died.
When you look at the cross, you have to angles at which that you will see the cross;
a)You look at the cross and think – that’s pathetic.
b)You look and you think – that’s powerful.
It’s either pathetic or powerful. If you think it’s pathetic, Paul says “you are perishing.” But if you think it’s the power of God, you are being saved. That means you have been plucked from the perishing crowd and set on a one-way street to heaven. But it’s one or the other. And the latter is the main reason why Jesus had to come and die… to display the Power of God and reconcile us back in fellowship with our father and God.
The Cross was a place of ridicule. It was a capital punishment for the offenders. That is why we see Jesus crucified with two robbers… but as Christians, we no longer view it as a place of punishment or ridicule but as a source of strength, power, redemption, forgiveness of sins and reconciliation to our maker.
When you consider what Jesus went through on the cross, you may wonder, “Why did He have to suffer and die like that? Was it really necessary?” Importance of the cross:
1) A source of growth for Christians in their faith as they contemplate the cross. – If you are a believer already, you and I need the message of the cross daily. Paul continues to say; “I’m determined to know nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” |1 Corinthians 2:2|. Just accepting Christ is not enough… you need to continually subject ourselves to the message of the cross for our growth and renewal.
2) The cross is a sign or public display of Christ’s love for us. Giving is one of the best ways to show or express Love. And God didn’t withhold his Love for us… He displayed it openly by giving His beloved and begotten son Jesus Christ. “For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son…” |John 3:16|. If ever you’re tempted to doubt God’s love for you, look at the cross.
3) At the Cross, Jesus suffered and died to absorb the wrath of God. If God wasn’t not just; there would be no demand for His Son to suffer and die. And if God was not loving, there would be no willingness for His Son to suffer and die. But God is both just and loving. At the cross, God lovingly met His own demand for justice. We have sinned against and have offended God. So a just and loving God sent Jesus as the substitute for us. God’s wrath that should have been placed on us was placed on Him. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us… so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.” |Galatians 3:13-14; ESV.|Colossians 2:13–14 says, “He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross”.
4) On the cross, Jesus suffered and died to pay the price for our forgiveness and justification. “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him” |Romans 5:9 NIV|. Justificationis a powerful and meaningful word used to describe what God has done for those who put their faith in Him. To be justified means to be forgiven of the wrongs we have done. In a legal sense, it means, “Just as if it never happened.” So, God not only forgives you of your debt, He also forgets what you have done. God says, “I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds” |Hebrews 10:17|.
5) The cross gave us access to the throne Room of God. After the death of Christ, the temple curtain tore into two giving us access to the Holy of Holies. Paul tells us “Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it]. |Hebrews 4:16|.
At the cross we have all that we need… if we are only careful to go there and pour ourselves out to our master and Saviour Jesus Christ
PS! This is an article I contributed to the Grace Today Magazine of House of Grace Church (www.houseofgrace.or.ke).
Visit the church and get your free copy of the April 2012 Edition.
|"7For there is hope for a tree, if it is cut down, that it will sprout again and that it’s tender shoots will not cease. 8Though its roots may grow old in the earth and its stump may die in the ground, 9Yet at the scent of water, it will bud and bring forth branches like a plant.” |Job 14:7-9 NKJV|
Sometime ago (2008) I had an accident and the car that I was using then was not badly damaged neither was anyone in the vehicle hurt at all. Reported to the police and later on the insurance for the formalities that have to be followed after an accident. The amazing thing that shocks me to this date is that the car had just a cracked front windscreen, the door window glasses of the left side of the car were damaged as well as the front and rear bumpers. But when the insurance evaluated the car, they told me that the Car was a “Write OFF.” I tried to follow up internally to get the car but I was unlucky because the insurance repaired the same car that was a “WRITE OFF” and they sold it away.
What do I want to say brethren… as you read this post, I do believe that you have been through situations and circumstances; you have encountered people in life who have told you that you cant make it in life; you are a failure; you are a dunderhead; you have no future… name whatever they called or told you but I want to submit to you this morning that; God has a different report and view concerning you. God asked the children of Israel “Who has believed the report of the Lord?” |Isaiah 53:1|. Many are the times that we take in what the enemy brings our way and we take it as the gospel truth and this we end up being discouraged. A good example is the school assessment reports that we get every time that we do some CATs or exams at the end of every semester or grade… the report that comes out will either encourage you or discourage you. As much as the continuous assessment helps one to improve on the areas of weakness, I have an issue with the teachers, guardians or even lecturers who take the advantage of the results and brand the particular people who have attained the results. Instead of discouraging the person, be the source of encouragement, support and help that this person may need.
I remember when I was in primary school, I had a English teacher and she somewhat hated me and I remember for two terms in class 6 I didn’t attend any English lesson yet I used to top in the subject whenever we did exams… it was by the grace of God that she accepted back in the class and what she had thought of didn’t come to pass. Another teacher was so abusive and once told one of my classmates that she could not amount to anything as she was a dunderhead and as we speak… that Lady is one of the top of the crème Financial Managers with an accounting firm. What do I want to say? Many times, people look at us and be-little us and what we can amount to. They forget that what they are seeing right now about us is just but a tip of the iceberg of what we can amount to. God speaks to the nation of Israel and encourages them(us) in |Jeremiah 29:11| and says “For I have plans for you, says the Lord, Plans not to harm you, but to give you a HOPE and a FUTURE” This tells us that there is a great plan that God has for you and me and no one can change or thwart that.
Paul speaks and echoes the words of Prophet Isaiah regarding our inheritance, future plans and blessings that God has in store for us and this is what he says: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.” |1 Corinthians 2:9; also see Isaiah 64:4| Thus, you need to know that when people speak and utter words concerning you or over your life is simply because they do not understand, they cant comprehend what God has in store for you. Nevertheless, you need to be careful to counter every negative word that is spoke over/against your life because, many of us we take some of the words for granted and they end up tormenting and holding us ransom. You need to know that spoken words have power. God created the word by SPEAKING; and Solomon speaks to us in his words of wisdom and says: “Words satisfy the mind as much as fruit does the stomach; good talk is as gratifying as a good a good harvest. Words KILL; words GIVE LIFE; they are either poison or fruit ~ you choose.” |Proverbs 8:20-21| Thus.. be careful of what you say or what is spoken over your life.
Many people have the tendency of belittling people and looking down on them thinking that they can not amount to anything in life. I have heard several testimonies of people who were belittled but later on God promoted them and set them above the very people who were belittling them. You need to know that when someone belittles you, he/she is simply “writing you off”. But I encourage you this moment as you read this, I charge you like Paul charged his son Timothy and told him “Let no one despise or think less of you…” |1 Timothy 4:12 AMP|. I love the way the New Century bible puts it… it says “Do not let anyone treat you as if you are UNIMPORTANT…” |1 Timothy 4:12 NCV| Many people look at us by our current status ~ the work that we do; the way we dress, the estates we live in and even to some, the cars we drive… But I tell you… they are evaluating you and “writing you off” but I want you to know that they do not have the final word for you or your life and future ~ God does.
Some of us have lost our jobs, been at loggerheads with our families and relatives, friends simply because they do not value you, your contribution or anything. I submit to you this moment… you shall make a come back. At times, God places us in lowly places to test, train and prepare us for the next level that He wants to take us. The problem with us is that we are never patient. I challenge you today; Do not despise Humble beginnings. God speaks to the children of Israel and says: “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…” |Zechariah 4:10 NLT| for it is from there that God blesses you and elevates you. Take a look at Joseph; he was sold by his brothers as a slave to the Midian merchants and they lied to their father that the boy was killed by wild animals… They had “written him off” but behind the scenes, God was orchestrating his way to his destiny. In Egypt, he was sold as a slave in Potiphar’s house but he was patient and faithful before God and whenever he went, he was the leader because he proved faithful. We need to be proved Faithful and trustworthy before God can entrust us anything.
Look at Mordecai. He was despised my Haman. Haman went ahead and prepared gallows so that he could be able to obtain authority to hang Mordecai and the Israelites on the gallows… but look at how God turns the whole scenario and Mordecai ends up honoured and Haman is hanged the turn of Mordecai. The bible tells us that when Mordecai disclosed the plot to assassinate the king, nothing was don to him to honour him. The bible says that “That night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him. It was found recorded there that Mordecai had exposed Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, who had conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. “What honor and recognition has Mordecai received for this?” the king asked. “Nothing has been done for him,” his attendants answered.” |Esther 5:1-3| Mordecai was a “Write OFF” according to Harman. Maybe, even the people who were in-charge of writing the chronicles never bothered to honour Mordecai because he was a Jew and above all, a gate man. To them he didn’t deserve honour but God knew He would honour him in a better way.
People might/will grade you according to your position, class, race, possession, colour or tribe and all they forget is that, you are not permanently there. Your current status, position, what you have is just but for a season. God can lift you far and above where they thing you can be. That’s why Peter reminds us that “…this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it.” |1 Peter 2:11| People will look at you and regard/rate you as a “Write OFF” but all you need to know is that you are not there to last. That’s a stepping stone to your destiny. Remember God’s promise in |Jeremiah 29:11|? God is true to his word and He will bring it to pass. God was working behind the scenes to make sure that everything was in place so that when He was going to elevate Mordecai, there would be no objections and fights. Many times, people look at us especially in our work places and rate us as per our current positions and the education that we have; and there they think that that is where we belong… No. The place where you are is just but a stepping stone. For joseph, being a slave in Potiphar’s was just the start of his elevation to get to his destiny. All you need to do is have an attitude that where you are is just but the starting point of where God wants to take you and no one should “write you off” or degrade you and think that you cant make it.
In life, there are times that you will be down and people will think that that’s your end and thus they will scorn you, laugh at you and go ahead and exclude you from their programs, workplaces ~ your position is replaced with someone else, name it… whatever you have been through, I encourage you today…. Let no one “write you off”, you can make a come back. Our God is a God of another chance. We should all have the attitude that Micah had.. This is what he said when he was down and his enemies were all over him. He writes and says “But as for me, I will look to the Lord and confident in Him I will keep watch; I will wait with hope and expectancy for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. Rejoice not against me, O my enemy! When I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light to me.” |Micah 7:7-8| That is the attitude that we should have. Look at vs. 8… I have underlined it so that you get the emphasis.
Your enemy, your situation, lack, joblessness, sickness etc. may bring you down and beat you totally, but always remember, no one should judge you by your current situation and circumstances. Solomon said “For a righteous man falls seven times and rises again.” |Proverbs 24:16| It doesn’t matter how hard you are pressed, you will not be crashed. |2 Corinthians 4:8|. Do not fear. Encourage yourself in the Lord just as David did in 1 Samuel 30:6. Let no one “write you off” and think you are done, just as I see in wrestling… when someone has been totally beaten and you think he is going to lose, you see them rise up re-energized and they fight off their enemies and win. We have our God who refreshes us all the time. Psalms 23:3 says “He (God) refreshes and restores my life (my self);” What else do we need? We have God who is always there for us.. Our Good Shepherd. God is always watching over us. I finish with this word… People will “write you off” but God is there to lift you again. |Isaiah 40:28-30| says “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, does not faint or grow weary; there is no searching of His understanding. He gives power to the faint and weary, and to him who has no might He increases strength [causing it to multiply and making it to abound]. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and [selected] young men shall feebly stumble and fall exhausted; But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.”
Do not allow someone to “write you off”
|18“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”|
1 Corinthians 1:18
The Cross has always been referred to as a place of pain; Shame and scorn and ridicule… why? This is because our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ died there in between two thieves… a death which was condemned so much. It was a Capital punishment for the capital offenders. But what does this tell us? It tells us that Jesus Christ took our place and died the shameful death that we could have died. The bible says that “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” |Romans 6:23|. We were destined to die but because God loved us so much (John 3:16); Christ came and died for us thus we could have life and life in abundance |John 10:10|.
Thus, we need to realize that Easter is the ultimate and most important event in the Christian calendar. Christmas exists for Easter and not vice versa. The birth of Jesus signified the completion of a mission and journey that God had started since the time Man sinned in the Garden of Eden. Jesus had to be born, grow and then get to his Destiny which was the Cross. That was his Sole purpose for coming to the earth… He couldn’t have left the earth and go back to heaven without accomplishing his mission here on earth which was RECONCILING you and me with our creator and father ~ God.
The cross is the only bridge for us to reach the father. Jesus said to the people of Israel as He was preaching to them: “I am the WAY, the TRUTH and LIFE. The only way to the Father is through me.” |John 14:6|. I love the analogy that is given… ever seen the picture that you see a great valley and down there, there is fire and people burning there… and above, you see the Cross linking the two sides of the escarpment or the valley? That is how the cross is. By the virtue of the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross… we are linked to the other side (God) after the cross acts as the bridge to the rift that was created by sin thus separating us from the father.
Many of us have come to the cross and surrendered our burdens and we are now free of our burdens and sin… but too bad that we haven’t left the foot of the cross. We are still there trying to get over our past and move on. We look like we are tethered cows there. We can’t get past there. I want to submit to you that there is POWER beyond the cross and we need to go beyond the cross so that we can be able to experience this power and exercise it. You can never be able to use something that you do not know or have… you have first to have it, then maximize it… thus; for us as Christians, we can only be able to exercise the power that we have from the cross if and only if we go beyond the cross. Thus, for you to exercise the power of the Cross in your life; you ought to be cognizant of the same and thus you can exercise that power.
This is what you experience when you go past/beyond the Cross:
It is only at the cross that we are able to get salvation and forgiveness of our sins. You need to know that SIN in your life is a heavy load/baggage that you can only be able to find rest at the cross. The famous hymn “At the cross” goes…
And the burdens of my heart rolled away;
It was there by FAITH, I received my sight;
And now I am happy all the way”
It is at the cross that we find Light (Salvation). Our burdens are rolled away and we are set free and we have Joy rather than sorrow and worry that engulf us. Paul writes to the church in Corinth and tells them: "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." |1 Corinthians 1:18 NIV|. Through the cross, we are saved and thus we enjoy the joy of salvation and freedom.
Sin made us to be condemned. Remember the curse that God pronounced over man after he sinned in the Garden of Eden? That curse holds us bondage until we come to the realization of the power of the cross. It is only the blood of Jesus Christ that was shed on the cross that REDEEMS us from that curse and other curses that come upon us. Paul reminds us that "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit." |Galatians 3:13|. At the cross, we are set free from all the curses and we are set free. We leave the cross without any form of bondage… we have is freedom and liberty to enjoy.
Sin separates us from God, and God hides his face from the sinner. When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, the bible tells us that they were chased from the garden and an angel was set to guard the garden (See Genesis 3:23) thus, we were separated from God. There was no more fellowship between man and God that used to be at the cool of the day. (See Genesis 3:8). Then, the bible reminds us that “for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” |Romans 3:23|. Not only have we all sinned but |Romans 6:23| says, “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The service of sin pays wages of eternal death. The Bible also tells us “The soul that sins, it shall die.” |Ezekiel 18:20|. The truth of this is that the soul that continues in sin shall die an eternal death. We cannot be sinners and continue in it, and expect to go to heaven. But by the virtue of the death of Jesus at the cross… we are reconciled to God. For “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear; But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” |Isaiah 59:1-2.| Once we renounce our sins, we get reconciled to God. Paul tells us “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." |Hebrews 4:16 NIV|
d) The Cross gives us Face value as Christians and Identity:
Sin disfigures us and we lose our identity. God can’t be able to identify himself with us because of our sin. But because he loves us so much, He couldn’t stand and watch us get lost; thus, because of His love for us His creation, |John 3:16| tells us that He gave His one and only begotten son ~ Jesus Christ. Jesus shed His blood on the cross so that we could be cleansed from our sins and reconciled to our father. Paul then reminds us that "you were bought at a price…” |1 Corinthians 6:20 NIV|. The blood of Jesus was so costly but it had to be shed soul that He could pay our ransom for us to be reconciled to God. Peter goes ahead and tells us that, "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy." |1 Peter 2:9-10 NKJV| Since our SINS had separated us from God, thus, we were not a people but Christ redeemed us and gave us identity and value.
e) The Cross restores us back Dominion, Rulership and Authority over the devil:
When the devil was hurled to the earth, he came and deceived man; took the rulership and authority of the earth and that is why, the bible calls him the “prince of the earth” (see John 12:31). But with the death and resurrection of Jesus, we got back our authority. Jesus peaking to His disciples after resurrection, He told them “… All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth." |Matthew 28:18 NKJV| This means that all the power is restored to us as Christians since we are brothers with Jesus by the Virtue that we received Christ and became the sons of God. |John 1:12|. In |Luke 10:19|, Jesus told his disciples, "I have given you power and authority to trample on snakes and scorpions… And they will not harm us" This tells us that we have the rights to exercise power and authority of who we are in God through Christ Jesus and He is our link to the father.
f) The Cross restores back to us our birthright/Inheritance:
When we sinned, we lost our birthright and inheritance. But I thank god for the cross. It is a public display of God’s love for us. The bible records that God loved us so much and His desire of a life time was to be reconciled with His people; the creation of His hands. And thus, through the coming of His son Jesus, the bible says "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” |John 1:12-13 NKJV| Thus, if we became the children of God… we are children born of the Spirit (God) … and thus "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God… For you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, Abba, Father. The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ…" We get back our inheritance by the virtue of the Cross. More so, |Galatians 3:13| tells us that “Christ redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit." We are partakes of the blessings of Abraham too by the virtue of the cross.
At the cross, Jesus was crucifies with His arms wide open.. This is a clear and public display of God’s Love for us as His people and creation. When I look at the cross, I do not see shame, ridicule or pain, but all I see is LOVE. The wide stretched arms of Jesus were an indicator of God saying to me… “Son, I love you this much.” My Love for you is this wide… you can’t go round it; my love for you is this high, you can’t go over it and yet so low that you can’t get under it.
How I pray that this season we will realize that the Cross is a place of Love, restoration and a source of Power for us rather than a place of Shame pain and ridicule. May you experience the TRUE power and Essence of Easter this year.
PS: This is a message I shared on Truth FM Breakfast Show.