Saturday, December 6, 2014

"The Cross... The Crown"

     Israel long expected a Messiah of power to come and deliver them from oppressive earthly yokes.  That will happen one day, in accordance with countless Old Testament promises to the Jews .  However, they failed to see a Messiah of weakness who would first come to deliver from oppressive spiritual yokes.

    "He was crucified through weakness" (II Corinthians 13:4).

    In our own lives, God sometimes answers our prayers by the bestowal of provision that does not look like provision.  He gives a cross, as it were, when we might expect a crown.  The Christ of Calvary comes to us rather than the Christ of royalty.  This is hard truth, but truth nonetheless for those who expect the Christian life to reflect the same quality and characteristics of the life our Lord experienced during His earthly sojourn.  A manger rather than a palace.  Obscurity rather than fame.  No place to lay his head rather than the diadem upon His brow.  Rejection rather than reception.  Execution rather than exaltation.  A tomb rather than a throne.  All these and more met the Lord Jesus in His first coming, as plainly prophesied by Scripture to all with eyes to see:

    "He hath no form nor comeliness, and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.  He is despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.  And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him.  He was despised and we esteemed Him not.  Surely He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted.  But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him" (Isaiah 53:2-5).

    God's working into our own lives, including and especially His answers to our prayers, often involve the same difficult excavations for foundations before the building of glorious temples.  We trust our Heavenly Father to work mightily in our lives for His glory and the blessing of others.  His response frequently bestows hardship as the direct answer to our prayers.  If we do not understand the way of Christ, however, we may wonder, as did doubting ones of old, "The chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and have crucified Him.  But we trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel" (Luke 24:20-21).  

   It is indeed a hard way, this way of Christ.  But it is God's way, His perfect way in a fallen world wherein the cross necessarily precedes the crown.  We must open our eyes and our hearts to the possibility that many of our challenges may be our Father's loving answer to prayers prayed for Christ to come into the venues of need in our lives.  There can be no resurrection without death, and great discoveries of the risen Lord Jesus await those who realize the way to the empty tomb passes by and through Mount Calvary.

"Before honor is humility."
(Proverbs 15:33)
"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.  For the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal."
(II Corinthians 4:17-18)

Weekly Memory Verse
    Every word of God is pure.  He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him."
(Proverbs 30:5)

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