May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6:14
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18
Southern California pastor and evangelist Greg Laurie tells a true story about a couple that was visiting a jewelry store. As the jeweler showed them various cross necklaces, the woman commented, “I like these, but do you have any without this little man on them?”
It seems as if that is what so many people (inside and outside the church) want today: a cross without Jesus — a cross without any offense, one that fits well with their lives.
If we could travel back in time and see the cross in its original context, we would realize that it was far from the piece of jewelry it has become today. In Jesus’ day, the cross was a disgusting, bloody, vulgar means of torture. It would have been the traumatic experience imaginable to see someone hanging in agony on a cross.
The Romans chose crucifixion because it was meant to be a slow, shaming, and torturous way to die. It was designed to humiliate a person. Crucifixions outside Roman cities served as a deterrent to anyone who would dare oppose the rule of Rome.
Amazing that Paul, in Galatians 6, a passage we will be in this Sunday, points to that disgusting, vile, shaming instrument of torture on which Jesus hung and said, THAT is my identity, THAT is my source of bragging, THAT is my everything!
As we round the corner of our Galatians series and enter into what is traditionally known as Holy Week, I want to encourage each one of us to reflect on the cross and the source of life, love, forgiveness, and power that it provides for each one of us.
The cross we cherish is foolish to the world because it is indicting! It flies in the face of our pride and boldly speaks of love, yes, but it also boldly speaks of human inadequacy. The cross says to each one of us: You’re not God; You’re not immortal; You’re not spiritually adequate; and You’re not OK! Something spiritually is wrong with you, and it’s so critical that nothing short of the Son of God going to the cross would remedy it!
If you were ever tempted to doubt God’s love for you, even for a moment, then take a long, hard look at the cross. Nails did not hold Jesus to that cross. His love did.
We have four amazing experiences designed to help us ponder and celebrate the cross and the ensuing empty tomb:
- This Sunday: We will be in our final message in the series entitled Be Free, from the book of Galatians. In addition to the message, we will have baptisms and witness people who have found new freedom in Christ testify to His love.
- Thursday & Friday: Our Holy Week Family Worship Experiences will guide families with younger children to enter the story of the Last Supper and the Garden of Gethsemane in a way that’s designed especially for kids.
- Good Friday: We will have two Good Friday Gatherings to remember the sacrifice of our Savior, at 7pm and 9pm in our Worship Center. Also, Sacred Spaces is available from 10am-3pm for reflection and prayer through ten designated spiritual experiences on the PCC campus.
- Easter Sunday: We will make PCC history with our largest gathering in our 65-year history! We’ll be up at the Cañada College Gym at the top of Farm Hill Blvd. at 10am to celebrate Easter. Won’t it be great to be gathered together as a church to celebrate with each other?
May God in His mercy grant us all grace to ponder the cross in these coming days! I’ll see you on Sunday!
I love being your pastor!