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Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Cross-road

In the ministry of Jesus Christ there came and ending...and a beginning. It was the cross. There at the cross the life of Christ was ended. The Pharisees believed they were ending the ministry of Jesus. The Romans believed they were staving off sedition. The disciples were confused and frightened. They heard Jesus tell them that this would happen and yet somehow they could not absorb it.

At the cross Jesus presented Himself a spotless sacrifice as the Lamb of God. At that cross God poured upon Him, into Him, all the sins of mankind. The connection between Father and Son was broken as Jesus became sin. Then, having done all, Christ proclaimed that "It is finished" and died.

Historians affirm all of this. One does not need the Bible to read about the life, death and burial of Jesus of Nazareth. There really is no controversy about the reality of Jesus as an historical figure.

It is at the cross where people part. The cross is like a crossroads where man approaches an intersection, the intersection of the cross and the person of Jesus the Christ.

The Intersection

If you can picture the cross and imagine it like a crossroad out in the country. There at the intersection is a four-way stop. You drive to the intersection, stop, and there must go left, right, or straight. Here is the intersection of the Word of God and Jesus Christ with the heart and mind of mankind.

Rejection

Many go left. The road sign is an arrow with the word "rejection" printed in bold. Here is where atheists, agnostics, skeptics and those who simply have no interest will turn. They turn away from the idea of a Savior or even the need of a Savior. They turn away from a Creator God. They go on their way, away from the intersection and away from Christ.


Acknowledgement


Many also go right. The sign going this way says "acknowledgement". Some who go this way believe that it will lead to the same destination that the straight road leads to and it seems shorter or better to them. Many who go this way go to church, many call themselves Christians. Many simply mentally assent to the idea of God or Jesus or both and go no further. Down this road are good people piling up good works, trusting in the quality of their life for their salvation. Some are sure that simply assenting to the idea of a God is all that is needed. Some depend on ritual and church attendance. Some believe that a good God will send everyone to heaven. This road gets a lot of traffic.

Atonement

There are a few who continue straight on. These are they who not only acknowledge God but also acknowledge their need for a Savior. Here on this road there is no credit for a good life, for church membership, for ritual or time spent volunteering or funds given to the needy. To go this way, one gives up all pride, all possibility of dependence on self or anything else. One who goes this way knows that he needs forgiveness for sins and salvation through the atonement of another. These are the ones who depend entirely on Christ for salvation.

Matthew 7:13-14 (King James Version)


"13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."


After the Cross

Jesus Christ rose from the dead and appeared to his disciples on Sunday. He showed them the nail and spear scars that marked His body. For the Romans, reports of His resurrection were at first a mere annoyance. Later, Christians would become a hated sect that Rome would persecute. The Pharisees were alarmed at the resurrection and sought to spread rumors that the followers of Christ had stolen His body in order to start more troubles. They would begin the persecution of Christians almost immediately although nothing they did could stop an army of believers from growing and spreading the news.

During those times, just as now, there were three groups. Those who were not interested in Christ, those who opposed Him and those who followed Him. You are in one of those groups.

I believe all people arrive at this crossroad at least once in their lives. It is likely that if you have taken a left or a right before, you may yet find yourself at the same crossroad again and again. God has a way of making those roads turn back to the intersection, giving mankind yet another opportunity to take the straight way. Hoping that we will choose Him this time. You may find yourself there time and time again until you either go straight or become so inured to the choice that you can no longer see the crossroad at all.

Many times I turned left or right. Usually I turned left, as an agnostic, a seeker, wondering what truth might be but being very skeptical of the cross and the Christ. Sometimes I went right, hoping that my life would tilt the scales towards good rather than bad.

Eric Clapton and Cream sang the Robert Johnson song, "Crossroads" and I had it on an album, played it and sang to it and drummed to it time and time again. I knew the lines:

I went down to the crossroads, fell down on my knees.
Down to the crossroads, fell down on my knees.
Asked the Lord above for mercy, "Save me if you please."


One day I knew with certainty the truth of the lyrics. I knew my need for atonement and I received salvation. I had to give up any ability I had and all the pride I had and admit that I needed God. I asked the Lord to save me if He pleased.

Now Easter is more than colorful Easter Eggs and chocolate bunnies and getting dressed up for church in nice, new clothes. It goes beyond a big family meal. My whole life is different because one man went willingly to His cross and bled and died there, taking my sins into death with Him. But much more than that, because that same man was the Son of God, who could defeat sin and death and come back to life and in doing so, offer me a new life as well. A life that overcomes sin by the grace of God.

Thank you, Jesus, for coming to live and die and then live again for me. You led a perfect life, which I could not do, and presented to God the Father a perfect sacrifice, once for all dying for all mankind to be free of the stain of sin and death, then rising once for all who will receive the gift of Your atonement for them.

The straight way. The part of the cross, when, having been set into the ground pointed up to the heavens. It still points the way.

May God bless and keep you today!

20 comments:

creeper said...

"Historians affirm all of this. One does not need the Bible to read about the life, death and burial of Jesus of Nazareth. There really is no controversy about the reality of Jesus as an historical figure."

What source other than the Bible independently confirms the story of the life, death and burial of Jesus of Nazareth?

As far as I know there isn't much at all... Jesus is generally accepted as a historical figure, but outside of what it says in the Bible very little - next to nothing, really - is known about him. There were only one or two mentions that speak of him directly, right? Or is there any non-Biblical mention of his miracles, his resurrection etc. anywhere?

radar said...

The first one I think of is Josephus...

highboy said...

The World Cultures text book at Altoona High teaches about His life, death, and burial, and the beginning of the first Christian church. It doesn't talk about His miracles as if they were fact you understand, but he was mentioned in the study of ancient historical figures.

Anonymous said...

Reality Asylum
Crass
(Best Before)

I am no feeble Christ, not me
He hangs in glib delight upon his cross, upon his cross,
Above my body, lowly me
Christ forgive, forgive?
Holy He, He holy, He holy?
Shit He forgives, Forgive? Forgive?
I? I? Me? I? I vomit for you Jesu
Christy Christus
Puke upon your papal throne
Wrapped I am in the muddy cloud
Of hellish genocide
Petulant child
I have suffered for you
Where you have never known me
I too must die
Will you be shadowed in the arrogance of my death?
Your valley truth
What light pass those pious heights?
What passing bells for these in their trucks?
For you lord.
You are the flag-bearer of these nations
One against the other that die in the mud
No piety. No deity
Is that your forgiveness?
Saint. Martyr. Goat. Billy.
Forgive? Shit he forgives
He hangs upon his cross
In self-righteous judgment
Hangs in crucified delight
Nailed to the extend of His vision
His cross. His manhood. His violence. Guilt. Sin.
He would nail my body upon his cross
As if I might have waited for him in the garden
As if I might have perfumed His body
Washed those bloody feet
This woman that he seeks
Suicide visionary. Death reveller. Rake. Rapist.
Gravedigger. Earthmover. Lifefucker. Jesu.
You scooped the pits of Auschwitz
The soil of Treblinka is rich in your guilt
The sorrow of your tradition
Your stupid humility is the crown of thorn we all must wear.
For you. Ha. Master. Master of gore. Enigma. Stigma. Stigmata. Errata. Eraser.
The cross is the mast of our oppression.
You fly there, vain flag.
You carry it, wear it on your back, Lord. Your back.
Enola is your gaiety.
Suffer little children (to come unto me)
Suffer in that horror. Hirohorror. Hirrohiro. Hiroshimmer. Shimmerhiro.
Hiroshima. Hiroshima. Hiroshima. Hiroshima.
The bodies are your delight
The incandescent flame is the spirit of it
They come to you Jesu. To you
The nails are the only trinity
Hold them in your corpsey gracelessness
The image that I have had to suffer
These nails at my temple
The cross is the virgin body of womanhood
That you defile
In your guilt you turn your back
Nailed to that body
Lame-arse Jesus calls me sister
There are no words for my contempt
Every woman is a cross in filthy theology
He turns His back on me in His fear
His vain delight is that pain I bear
Alone He hangs. His choice. His choice
Alone. Alone. His voice. His voice
He shares nothing, this Christ
Sterile. Impotent. Fucklove prophet of death
He's the ultimate pornography
He. He. Hear us Jesus
You sigh alone in your cockfear
You lie alone in your cuntfear.
You cry alone in your womanfear.
You die alone in you manfear.
Alone Jesu, alone
In your cockfear. Cuntfear. Womanfear. Manfear.
Alone in your fear. Alone in your fear. Alone in your fear.
Your fear. Your fear. Your fear. Your fear. Your fear. Your fear. Your fear.
Warfare. Warfare. Warfare. Warfare. Warfare.
Jesus died for his own sins. Not mine.

radar said...

Now we know why the above was "anonymous".

What a remarkable representation of what you are within. Several stages beyond sad. The Jesus you revile devoted His life to others. What are you devoted to?

Max Stirner said...

All Things Are Nothing To Me

What is not supposed to be my concern! First and foremost, the Good Cause, then God's cause, the cause of mankind, of truth, of freedom, of humanity, of justice; further, the cause of my people, my prince, my fatherland; finally, even the cause of Mind, and a thousand other causes. Only my cause is never to be my concern. ''Shame on the egoist who thinks only of himself!"

Let us look and see, then, how they manage their concerns - they for whose cause we are to labour, devote ourselves, and grow enthusiastic.

You have much profound information to give about God, and have for thousands of years "searched the depths of the Godhead," and looked into its heart, so that you can doubtless tell us how God himself attends to "God's cause," which we are called to serve. And you do not conceal the Lord's doings, either. Now, what is his cause? Has he, as is demanded of us, made an alien cause, the cause of truth or love, his own? You are shocked by this misunderstanding, and you instruct us that God's cause is indeed the cause of truth and love, but that this cause cannot be called alien to him, because God is himself truth and love; you are shocked by the assumption that God could be like us poor worms in furthering an alien cause as his own. "Should God take up the cause of truth if he were not himself truth?" He cares only for his cause, but, because he is all in all, therefore all is his cause! But we, we are not all in all, and our cause is altogether little and contemptible; therefore we must "serve a higher cause." - Now it is clear, God cares only for what is his, busies himself only with himself, thinks only of himself, and has only himself before his eyes; woe to all that is not well pleasing to him. He serves no higher person, and satisfies only himself. His cause is - a purely egoistic cause.

How is it with mankind, whose cause we are to make our own? Is its cause that of another, and does mankind serve a higher cause? No, mankind looks only at itself, mankind will promote the interests of mankind only, mankind is its own cause. That it may develop, it causes nations and individuals to wear themselves out in its service, and, when they have accomplished what mankind needs, it throws them on the dung-heap of history in gratitude. Is not mankind's cause - a purely egoistic cause?

I have no need to take up each thing that wants to throw its cause on us and show that it is occupied only with itself, not with us, only with its good, not with ours. Look at the rest for yourselves. Do truth, freedom, humanity, justice, desire anything else than that you grow enthusiastic and serve them?

They all have an admirable time of it when they receive zealous homage. Just observe the nation that is defended by devoted patriots. The patriots fall in bloody battle or in the fight with hunger and want; what does the nation care for that? By the manure of their corpses the nation comes to "its bloom"! The individuals have died "for the great cause of the nation," and the nation sends some words of thanks after them and - has the profit of it. I call that a paying kind of egoism.

But only look at that Sultan who cares so lovingly for his people. Is he not pure unselfishness itself, and does he not hourly sacrifice himself for his people? Oh, yes, for "his people." Just try it; show yourself not as his, but as your own; for breaking away from his egoism you will take a trip to jail. The Sultan has set his cause on nothing but himself; he is to himself all in all, he is to himself the only one, and tolerates nobody who would dare not to be one of "his people."

And will you not learn by these brilliant examples that the egoist gets on best? I for my part take a lesson from them, and propose, instead of further unselfishly serving those great egoists, rather to be the egoist myself.

God and mankind have concerned themselves for nothing, for nothing but themselves. Let me then likewise concern myself for myself, who am equally with God the nothing of all others, who am my all, who am the only one.

If God, if mankind, as you affirm, have substance enough in themselves to be all in all to themselves, then I feel that I shall still less lack that, and that I shall have no complaint to make of my "emptiness." I am not nothing in the sense of emptiness, but I am the creative nothing, the nothing out of which I myself as creator create everything.

Away, then, with every concern that is not altogether my concern! You think at least the "good cause" must be my concern? What's good, what's bad? Why, I myself am my concern, and I am neither good nor bad. Neither has meaning for me. The divine is God's concern; the human, man's. My concern is neither the divine nor the human, not the true, good, just, free, etc., but solely what is mine, and it is not a general one, but is - Unique, as I am Unique.

Nothing is more to me than myself!

radar said...

Max, you could have just told us that you are entirely self-centered and self-concerned and left all the rest out. That your universe revolves around you is in some way inspiring?

creeper said...

"The first one I think of is Josephus..."

That's exactly who I had in mind when I said that there were only one or two mentions that speak of him directly. Josephus, in a text written about sixty years after the event, mentions the sentencing, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, the account of which we must presume was passed on to him orally.

There appears to be no contemporaneous evidence whatsoever of Jesus's existence or the details of his life, and no contemporaneous non-Biblical accounts of his life. The one I just mentioned was written sixty years after the fact and covers the very last portion of his life.

Am I leaving anything out?

As far as I know, the general consensus among historians is more or less that a person named Jesus did actually exist, not much more than that. Beyond that, the historical reality of Jesus is hardly without controversy.

Zlohilms.

Anonymous said...

God is the greatest egoist. I simply imitate the master.

highboy said...

anonymous: You don't imitate the master, because the master is all powerful and you have the power and spiritual agility of a soap dish. You have to be wearing a black turtle neck, drinking coffee and discussing art and philosophy with your visionary friends. Your ideas are not new, nor do they make sense, nor do they impress anyone. Seek attention elsewhere.

creeper said...

Highboy,

"The World Cultures text book at Altoona High teaches about His life, death, and burial, and the beginning of the first Christian church. It doesn't talk about His miracles as if they were fact you understand, but he was mentioned in the study of ancient historical figures."

Did the book mention what sources it was using for details about the birth and life of Jesus?

(Xcomjy.)

Anonymous said...

" you have the power and spiritual agility of a soap dish"

That's awesome! Can I borrow it?

I suspect Radar isn't going to display the kind of critical criticism in the Falcarius post to this account. And that's fair enough. It's a matter of faith. Falcarius, and what it ate, and how it evolved, is a matter of science. What has Falcarius to do with Jesus? Pretty much nothing. I don't understand why one needs faith to glop onto science and try to digest it, which is what most of creationism seems like to me.

On a different tangent - I've heard accusations that people who end up going "straight on," as you put it, can slide into antinomianism. How would you reply? (a serious question - I'm not trying to bash anyone, but actually hear another side)

Oh, one more thing - not everybody travels the cross-road, y'know (although a decent percentage of living people do). Just to keep up with the road-metaphor, there's the Noble Eightfold Path (ariya atthangika magga), and the Way (道) . . . And then you have all the others, of course, from the other Abrahamic religions, to the other monotheisms - are Zoroastrianism and the Baha'i faith the only one still around? - and then Hinduism, and etc., and etc., and etc. . . .

Interestingly, there's a Catholic saint who may(or so I've heard) be a travelworn and nearly unrecognizable representation of the Buddha, while some Buddhists have regarded Jesus as a bodhisattva . . .

-Dan S.

radar said...

"On a different tangent - I've heard accusations that people who end up going "straight on," as you put it, can slide into antinomianism. How would you reply? (a serious question - I'm not trying to bash anyone, but actually hear another side)"

Dan, to go "straight on" and fall into antinomianism is a possibility when one just lays aside the New Testament teachings of both Jesus and the apostles.

The atonement is in one way like a judicial decree: I have been declared free of sin in the eyes of God.

The rebirth is a matter of the spirit of death within me becoming one with the Spirit of God. A new spirit is born within me when I accept Christ. The explanation is exceedingly long and would require a nice long post.

Anyway, as a Christian I will no longer face the penalty for my sins before God. But I still commit sins on earth, sins that have repercussions both for me and others. The Bible teaches me to continue to seek to be like God and avoid sinning for my sake, the sake of others and especially for the sake of God. Antinomianism requires a believer to abandon the Bible and go his own way.

Paul's words from Romans 6: " What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?.....knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin...Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?....For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

radar said...

This source:

http://www.probe.org/content/view/18/77/

He lists several historians, including Tacitus and Pliny.

Thallus and Phlegon are also sources whose original works are lost but are quoted by Julius Africanus and Origen.

radar said...

" you have the power and spiritual agility of a soap dish"


That really is an all-timer!

highboy said...

"Did the book mention what sources it was using for details about the birth and life of Jesus?"

I don't remember. I was in 10th grade, just before I dropped out. I wonder if there is a way to check? Now I'm curious.

creeper said...

Radar,

thank you for that link - very interesting.

So what is historically supported is that a man named Jesus did exist, was a religious leader, and was crucified, all from sources between 30 and 80 years after his death. There are no contemporaneous accounts of Jesus at all, and the circumstances of his birth and the details of most of his life are not supported outside the Bible.

radar said...

Ummm,

Matthew, Mark, Peter, James and John were all contemporaries of Jesus who wrote eyewitness accounts of His life and/or teachings. Luke is another contemporary and witness (but not one of the inner circle) who wrote the books of Luke and Acts. They were addressed to 'Theophilus' who was very likely the High Priest in Jerusalam at the time. The probable dating of Luke and Acts is within ten years of Jesus' Crucifixion and very possibly within five.

There are several contemporaneous accounts of the life of Christ.

creeper said...

All were written over 30 years after the fact and are hence not contemporaneous; also, it is far from certain that they were written by the alleged eyewitnesses themselves.

highboy said...

"also, it is far from certain that they were written by the alleged eyewitnesses themselves."

According to who? Very few scholars have successfully challenged their authorship, having enough internal evidence in the Gospels themselves.