Recently, a well known Pastor made the following statement on Twitter, “The well-intentioned fad of finding the Cross in every verse is eisegesis. Even Jesus didn’t do that! Never force a theology.” In an effort to avoid bringing any unnecessary division to the body of Christ and in particular to our local body at Center Hill, the above Pastor will remain nameless. However, the statement which he made brings up a question which must be addressed. Does looking for the ‘cross’ of Christ in every verse of the Bible force the text of the verse to say something that it doesn’t or is this approach a necessary means for us to properly hear the Word of our Lord and it’s meaning? The issue and answer is simply this, which may have escaped the above Pastor, “Let the text speak”. And speak they will when we understand the purpose and foundation for which they were given. It is a dangerous road we travel when we use the Scriptures for any purpose other than what they are intended for. God has given us His ‘Word’ both incarnate, in the person of Jesus Christ, and through the written Word, the scriptures. They both proclaim that God’s redemptive story of rescuing humans from themselves and their hell bound race through life, was accomplished in the Person and the finished work of Jesus Christ, at the CROSS. The work of redemptive history continues, until ‘all the people of the earth praise Him’ (Psa 67:3). He is not yet finished with drawing all His people to Himself. With that said, redemptive history found it’s accomplishment in the cross of Christ. Jesus Himself, said of His own death on the cross, that His blood was the blood of the new covenant which was promised centuries before which provided for the ‘forgiveness of sins’, something the previous covenant did not. And forgiveness of sins is the one thing needed for redemption. If we begin to read the scriptures from any other perspective other than God’s story of redemption of a people in need of redeeming and that redemption having been finished completely in the person and work of Jesus Christ on the cross, we will begin to use it for purposes it was never intended. We will moralize or politicize the Word of God for our own agendas and may this never be. It is not a social, political, or even a moral gospel. It is the gospel, ‘good news’, of God that HE SAVES SINNERS and that through the cross of Christ. When that is found in our scripture passages, it is the power of God unto salvation and will transform lives and cultures. Never make more of the Scriptures and never make less of them. I decided to know nothing among you except Christ and Him CRUCIFIED. – Paul to the Corinthians. sola scriptura!
John 12:27 Jesus said, “Now is my soul troubled……” What troubled Him? This is a question which has intrigued me for the past several weeks as I began my study for our church’s series of messages for the Easter season. The time of Jesus’ saying that He was ‘troubled’ was the culmination of what we call Holy Week, the beginning of which was the Triumphal Entry into the city of Jerusalem. He had entered being proclaimed by His followers as ‘King of Israel’. Maybe His followers had finally heard and seen Him for who He was. It should have been a joyous and celebratory time for our Lord, or so we would think. But as we look at the mood and demeanor of our Savior that week, we see over and over the description of a troubled soul. Weeping, frustrated, suffering, nearly a ‘tormented’ being. Was it the prospect of impending torture, scourging, denial, betrayal, abandonment by friends, or the physical death by the cross? He was keenly aware of each of these coming events. Surely it must be one, if not all, of these factors that our Lord was so troubled over, or so we would think. What ‘we would think’ is so many times wrong and it would be if we thought any of the former. I hope we as a church become impressed with what impressed itself on the very soul of our Lord, something that troubled Him and should trouble us. For as we see it in it’s most vile and horrible light we will never look upon it the same again. We will use it as a reminder of our only hope and eternal life and see it as a symbol of grace which should spur us on to holy living. What prospect troubled the very Creator of the universe to such a degree? It was sin and it’s penalty of death. It was not necessarily the physical death and anguish but the punishment of sin and the forsaking of the Father. Something which was so foreign in God’s perfectly created good world and something which was so unnecessary for His own sake. This separation from His Father and the glory which He shared would be such weight on His soul that He would sweat drops of blood and cry out in complete anguish, “Why have You forsaken me.” It was the cross of Christ. This week we saw the heaviness of Jesus and the centrality and necessity of the cross in His instituting the Last Supper. Next week we will see Him leave the supper and proceed to the Garden of Gethsemane where he will be troubled to the point of sweating blood and finally we will see the utter anguish of His words as the Father turns his back on Him at the Place of the Skull. A period of twenty hours, the purpose or ‘hour’ for which He came. Yes, He was troubled and so should we be by the prospect of sin’s punishment. But as we sense that trouble and understand that He died not His own death but ours, what a celebration we will have when on Easter morning, we hear the angels say, ‘He is not here but He is risen!’. Sins punished, Forgiveness available! Rejoice! It is my hope as Pastor that we get a deep sense of the vileness and filthiness of the cross and the sin that required it when we see the cross as a symbol on a t-shirt, or piece of jewelry or as an icon within a church. I pray that we pause and remember the cost to our Savior, that we give thought to the grace extended to each of us who by faith participate in the cross with Him. Soli Deo Gloria