AN INSPIRATIONAL MESSAGE FOR THE MONTH OF APRIL 2022 – by  John RobertsHow many of us can sing by heart the words of the song that starts “Jesus, keep me near the cross”? Can you recall the next few lines?

More than just a song, it’s a much-needed prayer for Christians. Too many of us have an incomplete understanding of what happened when Jesus willingly embraced the cross and died upon it. We tend to think of the cross as a way for us to get more of God’s goodies, the ticket, as it were, to our best life now.

Of course, there is a degree of truth in that notion: without the death of God’s Son, you and I would still be in our sins, and therefore rightfully under God’s wrath. But there’s more, so much more to it. When Jesus suffered on the cross He was taking our place, enduring the separation from God we deserved, serving as our substitute.

And so, let us pray to be kept near the cross, saying “O Lamb of God, bring its scenes before me,” to correct our vision of what is important in life and to keep the dazzle of this world from causing us to stumble from God’s call. Until we discipline ourselves to gaze upon the cross, to meditate on its meaning and rehearse all that happened there, we never rightly comprehend God’s righteousness. At the cross, where the Son of God was broken under the weight of the Father’s wrath, we see that the holiness of God exceeds all our imaginations. He is holy indeed

Staying near the cross, keeping it in the center of our lives, also helps us see the truth about our sin. The incomprehensible suffering of Christ shows us that sin is no mere trifle. Look at the cross and see what the Son of God endured to solve our sin problem! He took sin seriously, and so must we.

As we look on the cross more intently, we learn, in addition, to appreciate Christ’s love. No sentimentalism, no sappy “anything goes” tolerance is visible at the cross. Consider the awesome omnipotence of His love, not that He overlooked sin — far from it! — but that on the cross He died for it. He was under no obligation to do so; and yet, He died, horribly, all for love’s sake. “It must be an inexpressible and unendurable yearning,” said Martin Luther, “that causes the Son of God Himself so to suffer!” This miracle, this cross, this death of God’s Son — this is how much God loves sinners.

Finally, until we steadfastly look upon the cross in all its gory magnificence, it will be impossible to realize God’s call upon our lives. In His crucifixion, Jesus was establishing a pattern for our lives. He Who died for us also calls us to die with Him. “If anyone would come after Me,” He said, “let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).

Christ calls us to follow Him in cross-bearing, in dying to ourselves, and in pursuing sacrifice as a strategic part of living out the gospel. That means that we can’t do God’s will if we still insist on our will. We can’t pray, “Thy kingdom come” without also saying “And my kingdom go.”

Jesus said you can’t know Him or follow Him without a cross. The road of fellowship with Christ leads over Calvary. You will never experience the pleasures of Christ if you reject the pain of His cross.

In what area of your life is Christ calling you to die today? Are you willing for Him to keep you near His cross?


John Roberts

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