THE OFFENSE OF THE CROSS
A. What is Jesus asking of us?
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. Matt 16:24-25
B. How often we here messages about the cross only to connect it to living the “good life”. I.e. “Christ went to the cross so that I wouldn’t have to”
C. The cross was a real life demonstration of how to live in this age as a witness of the coming day of judgement.
And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. Matt 10:38
A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. Matt 10:24
D. The message of the cross is hard! It’s offensive to us!
For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Cor 1:18
but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness 1 Cor 1:23
E. Let’s consider Paul’s example of the life of a follower of Jesus:
Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ. 1 Cor 11:1
1 Cor 4:1-15
But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. You too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me. Phil 2:17-18
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. 2 Tim 4:6-8
For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love. You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion did not come from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough. I have confidence in you in the Lord that you will adopt no other view; but the one who is disturbing you will bear his judgment, whoever he is. But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? Then the stumbling block of the cross has been abolished. Gal 5:5-11
F. The cross is itself a stumbling block to those who refuse to take it up and bear it daily.
G. If the Lord in fact has laid out for us THE way in which we can best represent Him to a world that’s perishing, then if we don’t live that way, we are ourselves a stumbling block to those watching us.
H. While many Christians are going on living in a way that is indistinguishable from the world, the Lord calls us to embrace difficulty, embrace shame, to be marginalized, to lay down our lives in this age to gain them in the age to come.
I. This is no simple task. It’s only by the power of the Spirit that we can live such a life.
J. If we’re to preach to “gospel of the kingdom” then how necessary is it for us to conduct our lives in a way consistent with the message!?
K. Even as believers we are waging a war against embracing the life of the cross.
Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. 1 John 2:15-17
L. Will we drink of the cup of the Lord?
M. Peter was still trying to attain to the promises without embracing the cross,
Simon Peter then, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear; and the slave’s name was Malchus. So Jesus said to Peter, “Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?” John 18:10-11
N. Jesus would ask of us what he asked of James and John,
But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” Mark 10:38
O. We cannot succumb to the idea of graduating from a life of taking up our cross daily.
P. Many would have us believe that we take up our cross for a while, but then we mature and go on to bigger and better things.
Q. Paul said,
I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 1 Cor 15:31
For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. 1 Cor 2:2
for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh, Phil 3:3
R. The call to repent and believe was the cross.
S. The call of discipleship is the cross.
T. The cross is the path that leads to everlasting life.
U. Let us take up our cross daily and follow Him.
V. Let us show others the way, in the way we live.