Near the end of His earthly life, Jesus gave His perplexed disciples the precious words now synonymous with the Lord’s Supper: “And He took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.’ And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood’” (Luke 22:19-20).
For the disciples, Jesus’ anticipation of an impending Cross was as comprehensible to them as a toddler flipping through a microbiology textbook. For them the importance of the Cross will remain shrouded until after the Resurrection.
In these words, Jesus reveals the prominence of the Cross in His thinking. The disciples may have been confused but Jesus was fully aware that He would soon be forsaken by earth, forsaken by heaven, and hang alone between them both.
In other words, Jesus had a full awareness of the coming Cross. His consciousness included a detailed appreciation of His own death and an expectation of its painful details. His lonely ‘quiet times’ must have certainly been filled with meditations on Isaiah 53, as His own prophetic biography was laid out in the ancient Hebrew words. “Crushed” and “stricken” were in his immediate future.
So let’s pause right here and ask the question: Why are we Cross-centered? Why are the greatest songs we sing filled with the crucifixion event? Why do our sermons drip with the blood of the Lamb who was slain? Why do we exult in the foolishness of God and endure the rebuke of the world? Simply stated, we are Cross-centered because Christ was Cross-centered.
John Stott in his magnum opus The Cross of Christ (IVP: Downers Grove, IL) writes: “Why do we ‘cling to the old rugged cross’ (in the words of a rather sentimental, popular hymn), and insist on its centrality, refusing to let it be pushed to the circumference of our message? Why must we proclaim the scandalous, and glory in the shameful? The answer lies in the single word ‘integrity.’ Christian integrity consists partly in a resolve to unmask the caricatures, but mostly in personal loyalty to Jesus, in Whose mind the saving cross was central” (p. 43).
Living the Cross-centered life is to strike the dart squarely on the bull’s-eye upon which Christ focused His life, ministry and death. Loyalty to Jesus demands that we see the centrality of the Cross in everything because He saw the Cross as central to everything.
This, according to Stott, is the loyalty expected from all Christians and churches whether or not we fully understand the implications right now and whether or not the Cross-centered life is easy or hard. To aim at anything else is to hit a mere caricature of our purpose in life.
So live Cross-centered with confidence:
– Teach the forgiveness and grace of the Cross when disciplining your children.
– Preach the Cross to yourself when condemnation and personal sin haunt your heart.
– Love your wife as Christ loved the church, modeling the sacrifice of the Cross.
– Build friendships with believers and unbelievers with the Cross as the ultimate purpose.
– Boast and rejoice in the Cross as the heartbeat of your life as its lifeblood flows to warm the lukewarm heart.
Whether we can or cannot understand the full plan of God right now, we can rest assured that living a Cross-centered life is the purpose driving the Christian life!
Simply put: Live the Cross-centered life. It’s what Jesus would do.