Forget your carefully manicured understanding of Good Friday for a moment. Close your mind to hindsight and step back to that grizzly day, almost two thousand years ago. From heaven’s perspective, Jesus died as a sacrifice for the sin of the world; but from the perspective of everyone except His followers, Jesus was crucified because he was a troublemaker.
Long before it became an item of jewelry, Romans used the cross as an execution device. Crosses delivered strident warnings. Crosses with bodies still nailed to them made the best deterrents for troublemakers. They said, “Resistance is futile. Surrender or die.” If [revolutionaries] planned to rebel, they had better be determined; if they failed, they would face an excruciating death.1
These words of Jesus must be understood in that light:
Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. (Luke 14:27)
Jesus was not asking His followers for a token contribution. Being a disciple meant joining Jesus’ revolution of the world by restoring relationships with His Father, the King, and living the lifestyle of His kingdom. Discipleship means living with the possibility of suffering and death, because the kingdoms of the world distrust and oppose the Kingdom of God. Discipleship requires total commitment. So, are we willing to risk being a social outcast for the sake of the King and His counter-kingdom? Are we prepared to stake our lives on it?
As we understand the immense value of what Jesus did for us we will be more likely to accept His challenge. When we recognize that the kingdom of God offers nothing but blessing in place of our broken world then we will commit ourselves to His cause.
. . . don’t you know, it’s gonna be alright—God’s kingdom is coming.
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- This paragraph is adapted from a chapter on the messianic names of Jesus in The Name Quest – explore the names of God to grow in faith and get to know Him better, by John Avery, Morgan James Publishing, 2014, p. 227. Used with permission. [↩]