Jesus Off the Cross
This past week I was reminded of a great, basic, and easily forgotten part of Christianity. Jesus is not on the cross anymore. I was at a camp, and the speaker said something like this: “We like Jesus on the cross. When Jesus is on the cross, we know where he is. We know what he is doing. We can predict the outcome.” When Jesus is on the cross, he is dying for the sins of the world. He is there for us to see. He is offering forgiveness to those who trust him. These are basic and beautiful truths, but we were reminded that he is no longer on the cross.
When Jesus was raised from the dead, he began to act in unpredictable and exciting ways. He veiled himself from the two men who walked from Jerusalem to Emmaus. He appeared mysteriously in the room to the eleven disciples that evening. He visibly ascended into heaven. He shone a bright light and caused the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. People began speaking in tongues. He repealed the food laws in a vision to Peter. The Gospel began to reverberate and spread throughout the Mediterranean, all the way to India and Ethiopia. Nobody predicted it, and nobody was in control of it. It was God.
I sometimes find myself wanting to control God. I think, “If God was real, he would do X, Y, and Z. He would show himself in this way. He would do this thing.” There was a time when Paul wanted to go to Asia, but the “Spirit of Jesus” forbid him (Acts 16:6-10). Just like Paul, I find myself with a vision for my future and sometimes Jesus slams doors closed. Often, he opens other unexpected doors for me to walk through. The path that I am on is not one that I have chosen, but it is the one that Jesus has for me. I trust that his path is better!
The best thing about Jesus being off the cross is that he is with us in the journey. Jesus promised, “I will be with you always, even until the end of the age.” We don’t plan our path and ask Jesus to accompany us on it. We follow the path that Jesus has for us. We submit to him, listen to his voice, and follow him as best we are able. He is no longer on the cross, and this is much better for us. He is with us. His Spirit is inside us. He will never leave us on our journey.
Lord Jesus, help us to remember that you are with us. You are walking beside us, and you have promised never to leave or forsake us. Help us to be open to whatever you have in store for us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.