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Glorious God beneath a Shameful Cross

January 29, 2015

carrying the crossJesus is the “brightness of God’s glory.” (Hebrew 1:3). Jesus is the One in whom men beheld “His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father.” (John 1:14) In Jesus resided “the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” (Colossians 2:9). God the Son who became flesh commanded His disciples to carry their cross. His command is a daunting order but not one Jesus was unwilling to do Himself. He who is God and the perfect expression of God to man knelt on the rough stone of a Roman praetorium and shouldered the burden of the cross. He carried His cross towards the hill of Golgotha where He was nailed to the wooden beams and suspended from the tree to suffer the agonies of crucifixion until He died.

Jesus is the perfect reflection of God before the eyes of men. Christ is the perfect image of God. He is the perfect representation who stamps out in comprehensible form who God truly is. He is the exact representation of God. He is the seeable image of the unseeable God. Jesus is the glorious God of heaven who carried this cross to purchase pardon from sin. The depths of this humility is unfathomable. Though He is the Supreme Lord of all, He did not consider His power and eternal position to be more important than the eternal will of God. He set aside His position. He gave up His prestige. He became of no reputation.

The book of Revelation gives a glimpse of what Jesus left to endure the cross. The angels and the redeemed always surround His throne and lift up His praise, proclaiming, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory”, and “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created.” Jesus set aside this prestige to pick up the cross. He was willing to be mocked, rejected, despised, scorned and rebuffed. He was willing to leave His throne and perpetual praise to face betrayal, false accusation, enraged mobs and execution by the collusion of jealous officials and weak willed rulers. The one who is the King of King and Lord of Lords allowed Himself to be sentenced by inferiors. Jesus is the one who brought Nebuchadnezzar to his knees, sending him into a fit of madness until Nebuchadnezzar, “blessed the Most High, and I praised and honored him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom from generation to generation: and all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing, and He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand or say unto Him, What doest Thou?” Christ possessed an everlasting kingdom and dominion. He did what He wanted in the entirety of the universe, so that none could oppose His will. Though He is the Sovereign of creation, He submitted Himself to the cross.

For Christ to become king of the world would have been a condescension beyond imagination. For Christ to submit Himself to the condemnation of petty officials is an act beyond any possibility of comprehending. Though He is God, the Creator and Sovereign of all, He stooped to pick up a cross and carry it to His death Though He is the thrice Holy God, perfect in all His glory, He suffered the indignation of sin’s penalty. When Jesus commands His followers to carry the cross, Jesus does not command us to do something He refuses to do. He has already carried the cross. That which He commands all His followers to bear, Jesus first took upon His own shoulders. The cross is a heavy burden but one that our Lord and Master has already carried.

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