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Rooster on a Cross    From My Utmost for His Highest

Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you . . . —Luke 10

I've certainly been guilty of this.

To be honest, I’m not sure how to really put this warning to use without an understanding of the Gospel. Chambers shares the warning, so I’m going to give you the solution: bring the Gospel deeper into your heart.

We’ll do that today with . . .

. . . an excerpt from A Rooster Once Crowed:

Most scholars believe that Jesus was 28 or 29 when He started His ministry and that it took three years but we’re examining an ancient story spanning thousands of years from the Garden of Eden to the cross.

Why a cross? We know from history that death on a cross was laden with symbolism:

Crucifixion, said Josephus, was “the most miserable death,” designed to demean the victim publicly. Hence Pilate ordered Jesus’ placard to be attached to His cross—KING OF THE JEWS. Victims could be tied or nailed. The skill was to ensure victims did not bleed to death. The nails were usually driven through the forearms—not the palms—and ankles: the bones of a crucified Jew have been found in a tomb in north Jerusalem with a 4 1/2-inch iron nail sticking through the skeletal ankle. …Victims were usually crucified naked—with men facing outwards ... –from Simon Montefiore’s Jerusalem, A Biography (p. 112)

So why this? Jesus, in Gethsemane, clearly didn’t want to take on this ordeal.

I would ask that you hold my next few paragraphs loosely because we will not fully know this until that day when we see Him fully, but here is what I believe: The cross was the sacrifice that we demanded. {Tweet} It’s hard to imagine that the debtor would get to choose the method by which a creditor forgives the debt. But if the purpose of the payment was to woo and win the debtor, then a debt paid too easily only pays the debt. {Tweet} Gethsemane proves that this debt was not paid easily.

When I was a teenager, I thought my parents were about as rich as anyone else. For them to cover tuition at the Johns Hopkins University was just the freight for being my parents. I knew it was a lot of money, but if I’d even taken the time to think about it (which I don’t think I did), I would have thought they had plenty more. Looking back, I know it was a sacrifice for them. They tried to guide me to a state school at 10 percent of the cost, but it wasn’t what I wanted.

Arian Foster grew up differently. He made the news in 2012 by signing a five-year, $43.5 million contract with the Houston Texans. In a news conference, he said this deal was significant to him because it meant that his family would never struggle again.  Crying, he recounted growing up in New Mexico with a single mom. Arian said he and his siblings struggled and one day his mother “pawned her wedding ring to give us some food that night and I just told myself that I wanted to do something with my life to make sure that when I had a kid he never had to worry about the lights being on.”

Do you see that? Arian has a different understanding of the sacrifice that his parents made for him. My parents paid many tens of thousands of dollars per year and his mother sold a wedding ring that likely cost a few thousand dollars. Yet his appreciation for her sacrifice greatly outweighed mine.

This says something unfortunate about me, but the illustration is meant to illuminate that it matters who is paying the debt. {Tweet} If you’re trying to win over the debtor, then the sacrifice has to be big and understandable. And if you’re God, creator of heaven and earth, owner of everything, how can anything possibly be a sacrifice?

In my humble opinion, the cross does it perfectly. For you and for me, God scattered His glory with shards of skin and blood strewn through the streets, so that we may be gathered. This very act was the pinnacle of service. For you and for me, Jesus did that thing that he didn’t want to do. The cross embodied service, yes, but in a way that bled love, saying, “Forgive them…” as they gambled away His clothing. {Tweet}

For you and for me, Jesus believed. He believed all that His Father told Him, but also, He believed that it was worth it. My parents and Arian’s mom must have decided that it was worth it, too. But if they had not—if He had not—where would we be?

In the end, the debt has to be paid, but the goal isn’t to merely pay the debt. For God, paying the debt is just a nice consequence. The real goal is bringing the debtor back from the brink and into the Great Dance. {Tweet} So no matter how great the sacrifice or how long the wait or how heavy the burden, no risk is too great to achieve the realization of God’s plan for us.

Service. Love. Belief. Service. Love. Belief.

EXCERPTED FROM A Rooster Once Crowed: A Commentary on the Greatest Story Ever Told, Chapter 6—The Wait of the Gospel (pgs. 85-88). AVAILABLE FORMATS are linked at Full Porch Press.

It’s hard. It’s hard for me. It’s hard for even the greatest of believers. But start at the Cross and you’ll never desire spiritual success. You’ll just desire Jesus.

I love you.


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