In the Cross

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

As Barnabas and Paul fought for the truth of the gospel against those seeking to corrupt it with doing works based on law, one message was central. That one message was, and is, centered in what I did on the cross. As profound as that message is, there is nothing flashy about it. In fact, it is a hard message to “sell” as a great philosophy. However, it was never intended to be just a philosophy. In the simple message of My sacrificial death and glorious resurrection is great power.

What is that message?

It is that God loved the world so much He came to your world in human flesh. I, Jesus of Nazareth, came as God incarnate. I was God in human skin. I lived a sinless life of service to others. Then I was handed over to the Romans by My own people and My own religious leaders to be crucified. This crucifixion was the sin offering for all people of all time. I was the last and perfect sacrifice needed to atone for sin. After My resurrection, I ascended to the Father and poured out the Holy Spirit to empower My people to share My message. This message of the cross became and still is the saving message for all people in all places throughout all time. All people now can base their relationship with the Father on the grace given them in My sacrifice and in their reception of that message by faith. They were and are invited to experience that message in baptism. The gift of the Holy Spirit is given to them to live in them, empower them, and assure them of living with Me forever.

This message is the gospel. Nothing more should be added to it. Nothing should be taken from it. It doesn’t need to be dressed up with fancy wisdom or fancy philosophy. For Paul, it was everything. He changed his life to proclaim it. He risked his life to share it. He defended it against impostor gospels. He died because of it. He forever changed the course of religious history by proclaiming it. His message still stands as the sentinel of grace and a life lived with clarity and focus. As Paul wrote, “May I never put anything above the cross of our Lord Jesus the Anointed!”

Verses to Live

In the following collection of verses from Paul’s letters to the Galatian and Corinthian Christians, notice the emphasis on the cross — the essence of God’s love, the heart of My gospel, and the message that has changed the world!

May I never put anything above the cross of our Lord Jesus the Anointed. Through Him, the world has been crucified to me and I to this world.

(Galatians 6:14)

I have been crucified with the Anointed One — I am no longer alive — but the Anointed is living in me; and whatever life I have left in this failing body I live by the faithfulness of God’s Son, the One Who loves me and gave His body on the cross for me.

(Galatians 2:20)

For people who are stumbling toward ruin, the message of the cross is nothing but a tall tale for fools by a fool. But for those of us who are already experiencing the reality of being rescued and made right, it is nothing short of God’s power.

It seems the Jews are always asking for signs and the Greeks are always on the prowl for wisdom. But we tell a different story. We proclaim a crucified Jesus, God’s Anointed. For Jews this is scandalous, for outsiders this is moronic, but for those of us living out God’s call — regardless of our Jewish or Greek heritage — we know the Anointed embodies God’s dynamic power and God’s deep wisdom.

My brothers and sisters, I did not pose as an expert with all the answers. I did not pretend to explain the mystery of God with eloquent speech and human wisdom. I claimed to know nothing with certainty other than the reality that Jesus is the Anointed One, the Liberating King, Who was crucified on our behalf. I was moved to utter despair during my time with you. I would find myself trembling in dread and fear. The sermons I preached were not delivered with the kind of persuasive elegance some have come to expect, but they were effective because I relied on God’s Spirit to demonstrate God’s power. If this were not so, your faith would be based on human wisdom and not the power of God.

(1 Corinthians 1:18, 22-24; 1 Corinthians 2:1-5)

Response in Prayer

O Father, may I never boast except of the love and grace that You have given Me in Jesus. Thank You, Jesus, for Your incarnation and sacrifice. Thank You Holy Spirit for Your power exercised in the resurrection of Jesus and made alive in Me. May my life reflect Your work in me, O God, and may I share Your grace with those who do not know it. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

‘A Year with Jesus’ is written by Phil Ware.

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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.