The Cross From Seven Viewpoints

Perspective is everything. Where one person sees a half-empty glass of water, another sees it half-full. When I think of the crucifixion of Christ, I tend to think of it in one way predominantly (i.e., as if I was standing nearby watching it all transpire). But, there were many people involved in Jesus’ crucifixion; there were many different perspectives or viewpoints. In this series, I would like for us to consider their perspectives and also make some applications for us today.

Let’s begin with the first character who helped make the cross a reality:

1. JUDAS ISCARIOT: The Perspective of Silver
Matthew 26:14-16 reads – “Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, ‘What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?’ And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him.”

Can you imagine working closely with someone for over three years as Judas and the other apostles did with Jesus? They ate together, traveled together, and experienced life together as His followers. Judas heard Jesus’ great teachings and witnessed His amazing miracles, but he still betrayed Him! Judas cared more about money than he did doing what was right. That was his perspective on things.

Sadly, there are many people like that today. They, like Judas, have the perspective of silver. Money is more important to them than Jesus. Their financial goals are more important to them than serving the Lord with their utmost. Their desire for more things drives them away from righteousness and the church. They will betray our Lord for mammon if the opportunity presents itself (cf. Matt. 6:24). What about you, friends?

2. PONTIUS PILATE: The Perspective of Self-Preservation
Luke 23:4 records – “So Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowd, ‘I find no fault in this Man.'” Pilate had spoken to Jesus quite a bit. He knew Jesus was innocent and that He had been turned over to him because of envy. Yet Pilate first allowed Jesus to be scourged; it seemed to be his effort at appeasing the crowd without having to kill Jesus. This was wrong, and it didn’t work. Jesus was beaten to a bloody pulp. He didn’t deserve the beating any more than the cross they would soon hang Him on since He was innocent. The crowd kept clamoring for Jesus to be crucified and Pilate eventually permitted it and gave in to them. But why? Because Pilate was a coward! Continue reading

#cross-of-christ, #perspective

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3-6-2017 A Calendar Or The Cross

“And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:1-2 NKJV).  It is this fact of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that the Apostle Paul was determined to preach.  By following a man-made religious calendar, people have been turned away from that Cross. “Christmas” diverts attention to Jesus’ birth; “Lent” places the emphasis upon human denial; “Easter” skips the cross to Jesus’ resurrection; and “the thief on the cross” makes salvation from a thief rather than Jesus! Bible faith says: “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14 NKJV).

This is Johnny Polk, with “Words of Wisdom” brought to you by the Oneida church of Christ.

#christmas, #cross-of-christ, #easter, #lent, #thief-on-the-cross

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3-7-2017 Cross-caused Division

“Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three. Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law” (Luke 12:51-53 NKJV).  Jesus had just referred to His crucifixion as His “baptism” (Luke 12:50 NKJV), which can cause dysfunctional family relationships when not everyone in the family believes in His cross.  Today, some call for racial, bloody riots, and deaths, which divides families, instead of appealing to everyone to come to Jesus’ Cross for the love of God. “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?” (Romans 6:3 NKJV)

This is Johnny Polk, with “Words of Wisdom” brought to you by the Oneida church of Christ.

#cross-of-christ, #dysfunctional-family

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3-8-2017 Misunderstood Cross

“And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, ‘You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.’ Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, ‘He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him’” (Matthew 27:39-42 NKJV). Jesus had said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19 NKJV), and John explained, “But He was speaking of the temple of His body” (John 2:21 NKJV).  To His dying day on the cross, Jews misunderstood, and misrepresented, His actual words.  Since “as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death” (Romans 6:3 NKJV), don’t misunderstand this!

This is Johnny Polk, with “Words of Wisdom” brought to you by the Oneida church of Christ.

#baptism, #cross-of-christ, #temple

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3-9-2017 No Baptism, No Cross Of Christ

In Corinth, Paul “testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ” (Acts 18:5). “Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized” (Acts 18:8 NKJV). Jesus had said to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:15-16 NKJV). Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name” (1 Corinthians 1:14-15 NKJV).  A sinner’s baptism is “in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38 NKJV), not Paul’s name. Paul made no change in the Gospel, “lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect” (1 Corinthians 1:17 NKJV).

This is Johnny Polk, with “Words of Wisdom” brought to you by the Oneida church of Christ.

#baptism, #cross-of-christ

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1-23-2017 Wisdom Of Words

“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect” (1 Corinthians 1:17 NKJV). Paul did not personally baptize all who obeyed the Gospel. Why? As he said: “I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name” (1 Corinthians 1:14-15 NKJV). The importance was not who did the baptizing, but into whom they were baptized. In Corinth, Paul had preached the Gospel, “Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized” (Acts 18:8 NKJV). To tell people not to be baptized into Jesus’ death, uses “wisdom of words” to make “the cross of Christ” “of no effect!”

This is Johnny Polk, with “Words of Wisdom” brought to you by the Oneida church of Christ.

#baptism, #cross-of-christ, #gospel-of-christ

The cross of Christ produces humility

It’s hard to look down on others when we’re looking up at the cross of Christ.

That thought isn’t cliché – it’s rock solid truth. If Jesus died for us as an individual (and he did) and we didn’t deserve it (because we didn’t) then that means Jesus died for everyone else who deserves it no less than we did. And because of that we should want other people to find the same grace that we have found at the foot of the cross of Christ. A thought like that is what Paul was trying impress upon the mind of Titus and then unto the individuals whom Titus would be teaching (Titus 3:1-7).

Furthermore, this mentality isn’t a new expectation by God because of the cross of Christ; the mentality was consummated at the cross, but it didn’t originate there (Isaiah 57:15). God has always had the right to create his own standard of forgiveness, and his conditions are non-negotiable: 1) admit we’re wrong and take his offer to be made right, or 2) stay stubbornly wicked or self-righteous and earn what’s coming (Romans 3:23-27, Romans 6:23).

Humility is a must to follow Jesus. Humility is a must to be right with the Father. Humility is a must to allow the Spirit of God to work on us in a good way. And humility is a must when it comes to dealing with other people.

None of this means there’s no such thing as a righteous judgment (John 7:24), but what it does mean is that if we can’t see what humility is trying to teach us while looking up at the cross then we must be too busy looking down on other people.

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14 – NKJV)

#cross-of-christ, #humility, #judging-others, #salvation