By Dorette Saunders
Pomp and circumstance. Love and sadness. These may be a few of the words that swirl around in our heads as we watch thousands of mourners gather to pay their final respects to Queen Elizabeth II, and to hail the new king, Charles III.
Yet, not all kings crave pomp and circumstance. More than 2,000 years ago, a King left his home in heaven to undertake a mission that no one else could accomplish. That King was Jesus Christ. The mission was totally fueled by love. Jesus would give his life for our sins in order to reconcile us back to God.
The Scriptures tell us:
Christ was truly God.
But he did not try to remain
equal with God.
Instead he gave up everything
and became a slave,
when he became
like one of us.
Christ was humble.
He obeyed God and even died
on a cross.
(Philippians 2:6-8, CEV).
Imagine a king with no pomp and circumstance. No human fanfare. Imagine a king with absolute authority, yet submitting himself to humility. Imagine a king who was totally committed to God, and who demonstrated his love by his unconditional obedience. Imagine a king…on a cross.
The cross was a Roman symbol of torture and shame. It warned insurrectionists and those who railed against the Roman Empire what fate they could expect. But to us, as Christians, the cross is a symbol of victory. A symbol of life overcoming death.
It is in the cross of Jesus that we find salvation, that we find hope, and that we find joy. Jesus proclaimed that if he were “lifted up” he would draw humankind to himself (John 12:32). His elevation was not what one would expect for a king. He would be lifted up on a cross and crucified. How could that be considered victory? The cross is indeed a paradox. An instrument of death becomes an instrument that signals new life for the believer.
The Scriptures tell us:
“The message about the cross doesn't make any sense to lost people. But for those of us who are being saved, it is God's power at work” (1 Corinthians 1:18, CEV).
It also tells us that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. Why would Christ, the King, do that? Because he loved us dearly.
The cross reminds us that God’s love for us is neither cheap nor easy. It came with a price, and a long, hard road to Calvary. The cross represents Christ’s power and passion. And, it reminds us that our Lord wants us to be like him. Jesus tells us:
“If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24, CEV).
It is this emptying of ourselves that allows us to be filled with God’s Holy Spirit and thus become a true disciple. May each of us heed Jesus’ words and willingly follow him wherever he leads.
PRAYER: Lord, your cross is a symbol of our faith and we are not ashamed to be identified with you. Give us each day the strength to take up our cross and follow you. Help us to love as you love, and to forgive, even as you have forgiven us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.