Monday, November 11, 2013
The Way of the Cross
Isaiah 53:6 - All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
This country is in a great need of a spiritual awakening. ...As I've traveled from city to city I see how far people have wandered from God. Of all the things I've seen and heard there's only one message that can change people's lives. There is a way...if you come the way of the cross. - Billy Graham
Years ago I would have quickly curled my lip and switched the channel had I seen commercials advertising Billy Graham and one of his televised crusades. For the most part each crusade was pretty much the same, with the same message in different words. Wasn't that ultimately what Jesus did?
We are all like sheep, wandering in our own directions. We all are in need of a Shepherd to guide us in the way of truth. There is only one true Shepherd and He paid the price so we all could be free from our wandering and guided by Him.
There is only one message...and Jesus IS the Message. Billy Graham said it...There is only one way, the way of the cross. Jesus said it like this: I am the way, truth and the life... How can you change that truth? Jesus is the Way...of the cross. In those days crucifixion was done so that all could see. Crosses were set up along the roads leading to and from a town, like a warning for others. Picture the Way carrying the cross and the Way being mounted onto it with nails and the Way suffering thereon, then the Way giving up the ghost. Graham said the worst part wasn't all that He had to go through to get to the cross. The worst part was for a time being separated, forsaken from His Father. That's what we all are before Christ...separated from our Heavenly Father.
All Jesus has done for us. I AM THE WAY, He tells us. Like the warning if the crosses lining the way in the streets, He became the warning for us.
Hah! Yesterday our pastor, Terry Fischer, made mention of warning. Often people question how we can say God is a loving God but kill so many, as in the case of Sodom and Gomorrha, Samaria even other times when God's judgment fell on a people or nation, like how He does allow many to suffer the consequences of hell, although He's a loving God! He didn't cause the destruction without warning: He was merciful; He warned them, were Pastor Terry's words. He has sent prophets of old; he sent His Son. Jesus' words of warning, and love, continue. So warning is a good thing. It's the hearers of the warnings who must decide if they want to listen or judge.
Sean Hannity had a special on Billy Graham. I wondered how he managed to do this. I would watch it with an open ear. A bit of doubt invaded my mind and heart because for all the important people Graham managed to reach and actually get to talk to or spiritually advise, I have to admit, I don't know to what extent their lives really changed, if they did. Perhaps he only planted the proverbial seed. Like Jesus, many may think Graham is just a good, wise man, maybe a prophet. They still believe what they want to believe.
It does cause me to wonder why and how so many think they understand? How different is it from my understanding or that of others? But then, it was a just a seed in my life years prior to my own conversion. And God knows the rest of all our stories. Only God knows the outcome of the lives Billy Graham has touched.
Graham said that though many would react to this message (if they decided to watch it) it is the truth and he said with all his heart he wanted to leave us with this truth. Graham wants to leave us...with the truth. This may be the last time we hear from this man of God. But till his dying breath he will give us the same message of truth...that Jesus is the only way, truth and life; we are to take up our cross and follow Him.
What is Jesus' message? That He loves you and is willing to forgive you of all your sins. But you must go by way of the cross. You must believe that He was virgin born, lived a holy life with the very real knowledge that He was going to die for all mankind. He knew not all would receive Him, not even some in His own family. Like Graham, His message would always be the same. There is only one message. Without Jesus there is no hope. Without Jesus there is death.
Graham pointed out several things about the cross:
. It is offensive...but a cross we all must face some day.
. We don't want to hear we are all sinners, but we are.
. It demands, not suggests, a new lifestyle from sin which is a disease that affects the heart.
Jesus is our only hope for our eternal future. He sets us free. We become new persons in Christ.
Don't think you're a sinner? That is the first sign you are. None are righteous. NO ONE. You can't name one person, not one. ALL are sinners. All are in need of Christ. Not working to receive Him but working for Him once He is received. There are endless testimonies of God's transforming power in people. If we look at these people and think "good for them; glad for them" and glad we haven't been there/done that because we've lived a better life than these transformed individuals, we look at ourselves as better than they...another sin. When I hear or read about how God intervened in such a personal, powerful way in one person's life, it reminds me of the day it all became so real for me...and other times when I knew the Lord had intervened in my life in some way.
As one young woman in the program put it: The truth is, there is no other way. Besides Christ and what He did there's no life. Isn't that what Jesus tells us? I am the way, truth and the life. All that He did for us....it's mind boggling. He BECAME sin for us. He died on a cross where each of us should be. Without Him we remain in our sinful states. That is one truth. Another truth is we can be free of our sin if we receive Christ. Yet other truths: We will be forgiven of our sins and given eternal life; however, if we don't want to change what we are or how we view things we are rejecting Christ.
Graham spoke these wonderful words: Jesus was the only one born in this world without sin. But more than that He was a righteous one and when you come to Him you're clothed in His righteousness. God no longer sees your sin, nor your own heart. He sees Jesus.
We are told, as Graham said in one of his crusade messages, we don't have to understand all this...just believe. And anyone can believe...with all our heart. Believe, as Graham pointed out, means to commit...committing my life totally to Him. It's not just thinking in our minds, okay, I believe. It comes from a belief deep in your spirit, through repentance and faith in Him. One that causes a change in the way you think and believe. It causes you to want to be changed by a holy God. Repentance is that change. Recognizing you are a sinner and He is the only one who can forgive.
While Jesus may have died 2,000 years ago, He also arose and is still alive today ready to forgive anyone who is willing to put their faith and trust in the one true Way.
Some ask that you say a prayer to receive Christ. I received Christ before the prayer. The prayer was more a confirmation. Anyone can come to Christ by sincerely asking Him to show you what YOU need to see or hear to make Him real to you. It's not about a prayer. It's a heart issue and sincerity. Will your heart be the proper soil for receiving this seed?
John 10:11 - “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep."