Beware of Confusion on your Cross

March 7, 2009

On Thursday the 26th for practicum I was scheduled to preach. My sermon was titled, “The Throne of Glory”, the ironic twist being that this throne (Matt. 19:28; 25:31) is not the Father’s throne in heaven, nor the Davidic throne that Jesus will rule from in Jerusalem at His return, but is His cross. The punch in my message was that to have a faith that does not participate in Jesus’ cross is not a saving faith, and to not find this participation as glorious will cause such a one to be called least in the kingdom of heaven.

This is a teaching that has been maturing within me for nearly a year now. I was over-prepared, very practiced, and definitely pre-prayered. There is more than just a theological concept that I own concerning this – I walk this out with sincere intentions. During my morning hours in the prayer room I could tangibly feel the Father’s delight over me, and I had the excited expectation of building up to a breath-taking conclusion for those listening, hoping to recreate the feeling in them that the Lord birthed in me over this amazing truth.

At my turn, I took the mic, my instructor prayed for me… and immediately I felt… empty. Empty perhaps isn’t the best word. Confused is closer to the point. I don’t have language for this, but I knew that God had taken a huge step back, so to speak. At once a stupor came upon me, and everything seemed to go wrong. Trying to stir up something, I read my first quote: “The Lord kills and makes alive; He brings down to the grave and brings up…” Nothing. I forgot all my power statements, accidentally gave away the ending that I wanted to build up to (which did more than just ruin the conclusion – their understanding wasn’t yet groomed to handle the paradigm shift I was sharing), and I kept losing my place in the word and in my notes. All around I came across as if I never pray, didn’t study, and had taken on something too big. During constructive criticism, the class thought I was saying the exact opposite that I wanted to convey.

My emotions were going haywire – Why did God do this to me? Was I deserving of this? I felt so stupid in front of my classmates. What was the purpose of all this? My mind was sluggish for some time after this – nothing added up. It took the weirdest prophetic word that I’ve ever received to get myself back into agreement with who the Lord is, why I do what I do, and what it was that just happened. The word, essentially, was this: “You really did awful, and by it I don’t feel so bad about not having done well myself last week – your dying up there brought me life! You lived out your message: isn’t that glorious?!”

It took me a minute to get my bearings after such an odd, yet potent word. In the end I was filled with the Spirit’s laughter, and finally was able to see that what had just happened at the podium my Father in heaven took pleasure in doing. As my opening statement proclaimed, He crucified me up there, that He might raise me up in power. How was it that I did not recognize what all was taking place? My message, His absence, and even the lectern being wooden all pointed to crucifixion! What shrouded my eyes, and brought such confusion to my mind?

Not long afterward the Spirit brought to my remembrance some passages of the Passion. “…My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death” (Ps. 22:15); “…it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief” (Isa. 53:10). It was the Father who in love did this to His Son, yet there were others who in hatred stretched out their hands against Him, of particular note, targeting His face and head:

“…His visage was marred more than any man…” (Isa. 52:14); “And having blindfolded Him, they [the corrupt Jewish leadership] struck Him on the face…” (Luke 22:64); “…when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole garrison around Him. And they stripped Him [of Herod’s gorgeous robe; Luke 23:11] and put a scarlet robe on Him. When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ Then they spat on Him, and took the reed and struck Him on the head. And when they had mocked Him, they took the robe off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him away to be crucified” (Matt. 27:26-31).

The Lord sought to lift me up, and desired that I find it glorious, yet the enemy beat at my head in hopes to keep me from conscientiously embracing my cross. Too often we run from crucifixion, wrongly thinking that it is the devil who killed Jesus. Scripture tells of a rather different account: Satan did not want Jesus on that cross, but offered Him a way out (Matt. 4:8-10), rebuked Him through Peter for speaking of it (Matt. 16:21-23), and while on the cross attempted to trick Him off of it (Matt. 27:38-44). Indeed, Paul wrote that the Jews would not have crucified Jesus if they had known the power of His death (1 Cor. 2:8).

Demons aren’t those who want you on your cross – it’s your heavenly Father who desires this. And to keep you from it, and from seeing the glory of it, fallen angels will primarily attack your head, first by temptation, then verbally through family and through those who hate you, and finally, when nothing yet has stopped you, in a last ditch effort they will aim to physically harm your head that you might remain up there yet confused throughout it. It is not dying that we are to beware of, but rather of confusion leading up to and then while upon our cross.

Death upon a cross is glorious: “… what you sow is not made alive unless it dies” (1 Cor. 15:36). Do you want, as James and John did (Matt. 20:20-23), to be seated to Jesus’ right and left in the age to come? This is a righteous desire, but do you know what you are asking? In all of our farsightedness, we must be cautious not to neglect foresight. We must seat ourselves beside His throne of glory in this age, beside His cross, for it is only on Golgotha that we are ever explicitly told of people “seated” to His right and left (Matt. 27:38)! Do not allow the enemy to steal this truth away from you, for it will set you, sustain you, and satisfy your desire to be with Him where He is – first on the glorious cross, unto a glorious habitation of eternal joy and thanksgiving.


2 Responses to “Beware of Confusion on your Cross”

  1. It is the cross that spans the line between heaven and hell, and we all must walk the road to that cross to finally achieve that salvation for which we have been created. For too long we have viewed suffering as the greatest negative force in the world, whereas God sees it as the greatest opportunity to make us perfect as He is. May this One have grace and mercy upon you as you continue to meditate on the place of slaughter and perfection.

  2. wesleyb Says:

    NT Wright says that our vocation is to be at the places where the world is hurting and absorb the pain without passing it back… another good reason for you to read some Wright.

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