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Your human agendas no longer hold water when it comes to what is finally important, and that's why [Paul] said in the same breath, "far be it from me if I preach anything but the cross."
The big mistake that the church has struggled with for twenty centuries when it comes to the crucifixion of Jesus, is thinking that the cross simply means something. (We have to figure out what it means.) ... It wouldn't be wrong to say God loves us, but that's not what the cross is about. The new testament tells us that the cross brings to an end ... human prospect.
The reason Jesus had to die is because we have to die. And it was not in the meaning of the dying that we were to see what is happening, it was in the dying itself. There is no way out. The patient must die. The great power of the cross is not that it's a message about how loving God is, although that's true! It isn't even a great message about how giving Jesus was, although that's true as well! The great power of the cross is that it shows you your future, no matter what you do in this life, no matter how high you climb, how much you amass, how beautiful you are, how big your bank account is: The cross says, "this is your future". Make no mistake about it.
You see, and that is why for centuries the gospel was actually good news. Because you don't start from the standpoint [which says], "You know I have all of these little penultimate realities and I have to somehow prop them up... maybe God can help me do it." It starts from the standpoint [which says], "I don't have any leg to stand on ... now what?" And then God steps in and says, "Jesus ... that's now what." The one who died and suffered as you must ... is the one who God raised from the dead. And there is the promise that the christian faith has held out for all these years.
Of course nowadays ... we're spinning it other ways, aren't we. Because the cross as a "good idea", as a nice symbol of what God means, is a lot more palatable to our generosity and our reason and our own projects. That fits in a lot better with the way we go about doing things. And so God in His grace saw fit not to set before us an example, but in His grace saw fit to die. So that there would be no illusions left for us to hide behind and to play around with for these few short decades we dance here on this earth.
-- Pastor Mark Anderson
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Audio (19:30 min)