Editor’s Note: Lisa wrote this essay to bring to the Sunday evening Bible Study, where she shared it with tears. We were all moved. May it speak to your heart as well.
Why the Cross?
By Lisa Mikler
Why the cross? Why the gospel of the cross, that seems so counter intuitive to men? Why did God pick this bloody subject as our “opener” to win people? Why does this message, and the embracing of the life of the cross, transform a heart of stone to flesh, and transfer one from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light? Why is the door to enter the kingdom built with the beams of the cross?
Men want to follow a winner, the successful, the wise, and the powerful. The message of the cross seems to be the direct antithesis of this.
If there were no cross, and no message of the cross, how would we bring men to God? Perhaps we’d think of the most powerful way to tell people about our good Jesus, and then package our message in grand language or use persuasion and explain the advantages. Or maybe we’d create a stage drama to tell the story of a loving creator God, with all the smoke and lights. Maybe we could create a trendy club that looks attractive to outsiders… I’m honestly trying to figure out how an average believer in today’s US would go about doing it. Sadly, all the bells and whistles stuff sounds all too familiar. These days it’s all about persuasion. It’s all about enticing.
At face value the message of the cross is ugly. The day Jesus was crucified was the ugliest day that ever arose over the horizon. Mankind was at their worst. All systems failed to stop the injustice. The good guy died. And He died with cruel jeering self-righteousness wolves tearing at his flesh and mocking his suffering. Oh black day! And this is our hope? This story is the “crux” of the matter? This opener doesn’t sound very promising.
As I think about this today on Holy Cross Sunday, I see something more clearly than ever before. Man wants perhaps a “tweak” or two, not a big overhaul; he wants his pride appealed to, his reason praised, his self importance massaged into complying with a toothless religion. Then he might pick and choose how he wants to comply. Or perhaps he’ll just say, “Catch me next year, I’m kind of busy.”
ALL THE ENTICING APPROACHES APPEAL TO HIS SENSE OF PRIDE. BUT THAT’S NOT THE GOAL! THE CROSS DEALS A DEATH BLOW TO PRIDE. A HEART PIERCED WITH THE TRUTH IS THE GOAL. A PERSON FORGIVEN, A SOUL SET FREE IS THE DESIRED FRUIT. The sharp wooden arrow of the cross, aims at the heart of the issue. It sails right through the pride issues.
The cross deals a deathblow to pride and political correctness. It goes to the deep heart of the matter where we don’t like to visit: the sin issue. On the cross Jesus paid for our sin, the just for the unjust. He laid ALL aside to save wretches like us. We can take no pride in this! At the cross, all our sin and need is met by His love and power.
A cross-less “gospel” appeals to men’s pride. And leaves men in their pride. A cross-centered gospel, deals pride a blow, knocks men to their knees, and brings them to truly know the love of God. The gospel of the cross doesn’t try to appeal to a sinner’s popular philosophical leanings. Those things are the very chaff that the wind drives away.
The cross is all about love. It is the bridge to love, and is because of love. You can’t know the love of God without the cross. You can’t come “home” without the cross. You can’t even humble yourself without the cross, because you don’t even know what humble is until you really see the love and humility of the cross.
To the unredeemed, the cross is foolishness. In their pride they don’t know their need of a Savior. But we don’t love them when we withhold the truth from them.
To a sinner, redeemed by God’s loving grace, the cross becomes the emblem of just how much God loves us, and how much we are in need of a Savior. It also gives us the greatest example of how low love will bend to extend a hand to lost souls.
These are my thought today. †
ABOUT LISA For those who don’t know her Lisa is a wife, mother and grandmother. She is an artist, and you may see some of her work at lisamikler.com and sistinebasement.com.