“Let him come down from the cross, and we will believe in him.” -Matthew 26.42
This is what the world wants. They want a king without a cross–a messiah who demonstrates his authority by ascension and strength, not humiliation and sacrifice. “If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross!” they say. “Then we will believe in you!”
People are still demanding a king with no cross. They want a religion without sacrifice, a religion of spectacle and strength–the version of Christ who calls down twelve legion of angels, not the one who says, “the scriptures must be fulfilled.”
This is the scandal of Jesus. He is Messiah precisely because he did not come down. He proved to be the Son of God, not because he avoided the pain and the shame of Golgotha, but be because he endured them on his way to Sunday morning. The spectacular came by way of suffering, strength by way of utter weakness. The resurrection of Christ from the dead was his vindication…and ours too.
Suffering is the path to life.
“By his wounds we are healed.” -Isaiah 53:5
“We were buried with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of his resurrection.” -Rom. 6:4-5
“The Spirit himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, and if children, also heirs––heirs of God and coheirs with Christ––if indeed we suffer with him so that we may also be gloried with him.” -Rom. 8:16-17
The Jesus of Scripture does not offer us a life without suffering. What he offers is the hope of resurrection. He offers glory on the other side of humiliation. And when we grasp the greatness of this promise, only then will we be able to say with the apostle Paul, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us.” (Rom. 8:18)
We are more like the mocking crowd than we’d like to admit.
We often want the benefits of resurrection without the suffering of crucifixion.
Forgive us, Lord.
Jesus, thank you that endured the cross, despising the shame.
We worship you for your sacrifice, dying in our place.
And we praise you, for you are a risen King, alive and glorious!
Soon you will return and consummate your kingdom.
Spirit, grant us faith in this Christ.
Give us strength to follow Him.
Help us to embrace the cruciform life,
knowing that daily dying to ourselves is the pathway to life.