The cross of Jesus Christ changes everything. It is the most important moment in the course of human history, and when seen from its proper view, it is the most important moment in the course of all of creation. Now, that is a radical claim. But it is not mine – it belongs to Jesus himself.
On the week when he entered Jerusalem for the final time, Jesus makes the effort to explain to his disciples and to us what the cross does and how important it really is. After the adulation of the Triumphal Entry and the Greek believers who seek him out, Jesus instructs the disciples about the importance and power of what will happen on Friday.
First, Jesus says, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified” (vs. 23). This is an odd way of talking about the most torturous form of death devised by humans. The disciples will be horrified and terrified at what will happen, and Jesus will endure agonizing pain before he actually dies. And yet, Jesus calls it glory! To be glorified means for the honor and praise-worthiness of a thing to be made manifest. The cross reveals Christ’s eternal worth, power, righteousness, and forgiveness. What the world takes to be shame and the ultimate defeat, in fact, reveals the glory of God.
The Cross is Glory.
Then Jesus goes on to talk about the need for the disciples to serve him and to “hate” their lives here in this world. The call of the Christian life is not one where we are asked to follow most of what Christ commands with bits and pieces of who we are. The cross of Christ is a claim on my entire life – all I am and all I have. I am not asked to literally hate myself or life in this world. On the contrary, I am asked to love Christ and place him in his proper place as God, and then everything else will find its rightful and fruitful place beneath him.
The Cross is Discipleship.
Jesus then tells the gathered crowd that he is troubled in spirit and that he could pray for his release from this moment. But instead of praying, “Father, save me from this hour,” Christ prays, “Father, glorify your name” (vs. 27-28). The cross is why he came to live among us. It is his reason for being here and going through what he is about to endure. And, in a profound twist on our usual take on difficulties and trials, it prompts Christ to pray for God’s glory.
The Cross is God’s Will.
“Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out” (vs. 31). Satan and his power over you will not be defeated 2000 years from now. He will not be defeated at the end of the millennial reign. Satan and his forces will not be defeated the day you die and find yourself in heaven. Satan was defeated 2000 years ago on the cross of Christ. We continue to fall to temptation, listen to the wrong voices, and make the wrong choices. But Satan’s power over Christ’s children was taken care of on the cross.
The Cross is Triumph.
And finally, in response to some confusion from the crowd, Jesus tells them that the light of the world is now among them. “While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light” (vs. 36). Now is the time to believe, because there is only a limited amount of time for any one of us. The cross brings God’s life to bear in the lives of broken, repentant people.
The Cross is Life.