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John Moore
 
April 4, 2022 | Inspirational | John Moore

Easter – Understanding the Cross – Preparing for Easter (Part 1)

GROWTH AND SUCCESS IN LIFE

Lessons Learned at the Feet of Jesus

Jesus has been both instructing and illustrating about greatness in the Kingdom and great crowds began to follow him.  Most recently, he has been warning about money and wealth – and how it captures the heart and mind to the loss of eternal perspective and the obstacle to considered redemption.  We have learned that the love of money, as illustrated by the instruction to give it away, exposes the heart and a refusal to follow Jesus.  The measurement of the Kingdom is according to the hearts and minds of its followers.  Now again, the prediction of Christ’s death and resurrection.  What is the main point of the cross?

17 Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, 18 “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death 19 and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life! Matthew 20:17-19.

1.  The Context: ‘So the last will be first and the first shall be last’.  Tied tightly to the context, the soon-coming crucifixion and death of Jesus would illustrate this principle in the Kingdom, as Jesus ‘of the least of the last, of the One humiliated in death’.  And the last shall be first, that His crucifixion would lead to His resurrection, of life over death, of ‘the last shall be first’.  The context is critical for this message of the cross.

2.  The Third and Final Prediction of Christ’s Death and Resurrection.  Following from Matthew 16:21 and 17:22-23, now this third and last prediction, in context, teachings now only about Jesus but about the Kingdom of God.  Jesus as the ‘Son of Man’ emphasizes His place was both from the humble origin of a man and from the beginning was glorious and God Himself (cf 8:20).  The Twin Adversaries: (1) the religious elite and experts, all of whom twisted the Law and the Old Testament for their benefit and power – the Sanhedrin or Supreme Court, indicating that there would be a trial, and (2) Pilate and the Romans, who would carry out the sentence with cruelty, leading to the cross.

3.  On the Third Day He will be Raised: This is the capstone of the gospel.  Without the empty tomb we are of all people most to be pitied (1 Cor 15, 2 Cor 4).  The resurrection is the core of the Christian message.  It is life over death, the verification of Jesus and His message and redemption work, purchasing our salvation, and establishing the hope that we will see Him again, and that He is coming back as promised, to judge and rule the world.

So what is the cross?  It is not a symbol of life, but of death, not of decoration, but a symbol of God’s plan to use the least among us to be raised to the greatest.  And with the resurrection comes a message of hope, of power, of life after death, of ‘absent in the body is present with the Lord’.

Ray Stedman wrote: We must understand that resurrection power is like no other power on earth. It is unique and has no possible rival. For one thing, it is the kind of power that operates in the midst of death. It works when everything around it is dull, dead and barren. It works best in the midst of a cemetery, for that is where it was first demonstrated. When Jesus Christ was resurrected he came out from among the dead. Therefore, if you learn to live by resurrection power you can be alive and vital when everything and everyone around you is dead and lifeless.

Resurrection power is also irresistible. It cannot be thwarted or turned aside. It takes absolutely no account of any obstacles thrown in its path, except to use them for further opportunities to advance its cause. When Jesus came bursting from the grave, he paid not the slightest attention to the obstacles man had placed in his way. There was a large stone in front of his tomb; he passed through it. He himself was wrapped in yard after yard of linen cloth; he left the graveclothes undisturbed behind him. There were Roman guards in front of his tomb; he ignored them. He took not the slightest notice of the decrees of Caesar or the orders of Pilate or the fulminations of the Jewish priests.

Furthermore, resurrection power makes no noise. Other kinds of power that we know usually make some kind of sound: they pound, pulsate, throb, hum, buzz, explode, or roar. But resurrection power is quite silent. Without any display or ostentation, it quietly accomplishes its purpose though there is nothing audible or visible to mark it. When a Christian is living by resurrection power he does not advertise it or seek to dazzle others by its display. His effect upon others is quiet and unobserved at first, but soon there are evident changes that mark the inevitable effect of resurrection power at work: the return of life, vitality, excitement and joy to an individual or situation.

So this is EASTER.  Prepare your mind for a great season of worship this year.  Stay well.

- John Moore

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