- Matthew 16:24 (NLT)
Not far from the old historical railroad town of Clifton Forge, Virginia we can find this beautiful display of the three crosses representing the place where Jesus so painfully died between two guilty criminals on Golgotha so many years ago. The King of Kings, both man and God, was sent to earth in the form of man to sacrifice himself for our sins even though He was sinless. He did so to show God's love and His ability to forgive all of mankind in the past, present, and future for all of our sins. And today, the symbolism of His cross lives on to remind us of the most precious gift He offers, for when this life is over, only His gift of Eternal Life can give us everlasting life with Him.
This morning as I pondered my weekly Sunday Morning Coming Down blog for tomorrow, I knew I wanted to write about the meaning of the cross and why it is so important. As I looked for a good picture to express what was in my heart without words, I came upon this picture posted by someone I knew on Facebook and asked if she would mind me using it. She is, like me, a devoted believer in Christ, and she agreed and so, I found the perfect picture for the thoughts I was thinking. Now I must confess that I am still a sinner, but I work hard every day to turn to God and not sin and I am much better at it now, but still not perfect. But then again, we humans will always come up short and God knows that about us. What He wants from us is to make the great effort to try and become sinless. And, knowing that, I could find no verse in the Bible more appropriate than the one this blog is opened with. You see, when Jesus was talking with His disciples and they asked Him what was necessary to become His follower, He made it clear what was required and that same advice is offered to us and all mankind as well. If we want to follow Him based on faith that He is who he says He is, we must stop what we are doing and be done with our selfish and sinful ways. We must take up or own cross and follow Him.
The cross we must take up is not a physical thing but a spiritual one. We must open our hearts to the Holy Spirit residing within us and allow Him to guide us on the way to truth which is Jesus Christ, for only Jesus can save us from darkness and death with the gift He so graciously has offered. And to accept that gift we must put Him first in our lives, for all other things are a very poor second at best. When we take Jesus in our hearts, we want to do as He asks and throw caution to the wind. It can't be a part-time thing, it has to be a part of everything we do in life and that doesn't come without pain and suffering. Just like Jesus died on the cross, there are many who will scorn us, belittle us and sometimes even harm us or kill us. But there is one things they really can't do. They can't kill our spiritual being, only our physical one if we have Jesus and that spiritual life will live on in heaven above in a new and better body that will never suffer or die for all eternity.
When I look at those three crosses sitting up there in the Allegheny Mountains above that beautiful mountain town, I am struck by the message it visually sends and it is this. Jesus is alive and well and looking down on us. He wants us to love Him and He loves us so. And when He returns to earth and He will at a time of God's choosing, those of us who believe will be saved eternally. And don't worry, if we die before that day and we truly believe in Him, we are also saved. What could be better than that? Absolutely nothing.