Luke 23:33, “And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand, and the other on the left”
Matthew 10:38, “He who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me”
The cross in Roman times was designed for death as it had no other use. Jesus disciples had a vivid picture of the agony, punishment, and misery that the cross represented. However, Jesus Christ voluntarily walked the path that led to His painful and shameful death on a Roman cross, on a hill outside the city of Jerusalem. Before the cross of Jesus we find his mother, filled with sorrow for her son, and beside her was one of his disciples, John, the disciple whom he loved. Other women besides his mother were there, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleopas, and a woman named Mary Magdalene, out of whom a year before Jesus had sent an evil spirit.
There were even among them the rulers of the Jews, a few who were friends of Jesus including Nicodemus, though they did not dare to follow Jesus openly. It wasn’t easy for Jesus to take this way. In His mind, He saw a vivid picture of the agony and shame He would endure to provide salvation for mankind. Nevertheless, He prayed, Father, glorify your name (John 12:28) and He looked beyond the suffering to the harvest of redeemed people and to the joy this would bring Him (Hebrews 12:2). He chose the way of the cross because of His desire to please and be obedient to His Heavenly Father.
Every person who has accepted Jesus Christ, as Lord and Savior, must face a similar choice of taking the way of the cross. A woman was told that the baby in her womb would be retarded, but she refused the early abortion recommended by her doctor because she believed this would be wrong or the lawyer before the revolution in Romania, who lost his professional status, and had to do menial labor because he openly confessed Jesus Christ as his Savior. My beloved, Jesus wants individuals who are willing to face the difficulties of life that it would take to serve His cause.
As His ambassadors we need to carry on His message, and stand steadfast against the forces of today that are seeking to quiet the gospel message. My friend, these individuals chose the way of the cross because they took seriously the words of Jesus Christ when He said, “If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour” (John 12:26). We need to follow our Lord and take up His cross instead of the way of the world! I’m sure you have been in situations at one time or another, when you had to choose to be faithful to your Lord Jesus Christ or compromise your Biblical beliefs and values.
Christians around the world celebrate an event that separates everyone into two distinct groups. Journey back with me as we travel to Golgotha, a hill just outside Jerusalem, to watch the scene unfold. As we approach the hill, we see three crude, wooden crosses. On the two outside crosses are criminals, hanging in intense agony as payment to society for their crimes. However, on the middle cross hangs an innocent Man. His pain has come through no fault of His own. He is suffering for others. He is Jesus Christ, God’s only Son. As we watch the three men, one of the criminals begins to ridicule Jesus. However, the other criminal rebukes this mocker. Then, turning toward the Man in the middle, he pleads, Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom, to which Jesus replies, Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.
The dividing line is drawn: One man finds forgiveness and hope; the other dies in his sins. My friend, if you haven’t done so, you need to turn your eyes toward the cross of Jesus. He knows all about you, and nothing is hidden from His eyes. He died on the cross so He could forgive you and be with you. He wants to look into your eyes as He did the criminal hanging on the cross and forgive you. He longs to show His love to you in your worst moment. All you must do is look to Him and believe as the criminal did. You see Jesus Christ is still the dividing line between two segments of humanity. Jesus said that whoever believes in Him is not condemned but receives eternal life (John 3:15-18). We have only two choices:
(1) Reject His sacrificial death for your sin and be lost for eternity, or
(2) Trust in His work on the cross and receive eternal life.
My beloved, the way of the cross is costly; however, it’s the only path where a person can find a love that can never be fathomed; a life that can never die; a peace that can never be understood; a rest that can never be disturbed; a joy that can never be diminished; a hope that can never be disappointed; a glory that can never be clouded; a happiness that can never be interrupted; a light that can never be extinguished; a strength that can never be overcome; a beauty that can never be marred; a purity that can never be defiled, and Resources that can never be exhausted.
John 14:6, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” – My friend, the cross has two sides! The question remains:
(1) Which side are you on today?