A Day to Remember the Cross
Ancient Christian spirituality holds Friday as a day to remember the crucifixion of Christ. This day even has its own prayer in the Book of Common Prayer.
Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first He suffered pain, and entered not into glory before He was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ Your Son our Lord. Amen.
“The way of the cross” is guaranteed to bring us to the question: How could God love us so much? Surely we are unworthy of such love. We are worthy instead of punishment for our many sins. In these Friday thoughts a critical distinction must be made.
Unworthy is not the same as worthless.
In fact, the difference between them is not at all slight.
- We are unworthy of constant attention of God the Father.
- We are unworthy of the love Christ demonstrated at Calvary.
- We are unworthy of the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit.
Yet, this is just one side of the story.
- We are created in the image of God.
- We are “the apple of His eye,” meaning we are precious to God the Father.
- We were created with a capacity to fellowship with God and a deep desire to do so.
- Jesus endured the cross because a certain joy was set before—the joy of a relationship with each of us.
- Each of us is worth every stripe on His back, every nail in His hands and feet, the spear in His side, and the crown of thorns on His head.
- Though we are the stuff of earth, each of us has the potential to do the work of heaven.
Don’t listen to the Devil!
The enemy of our souls would tell us that we are worthless, ruined beyond repair, and unfit for a relationship with the Almighty.
Such an idea actually impugns the character of God Almighty. In the sermon on the mount, Jesus based our whole life with God on the sterling character of God the Father.
- Pagans pray to hostile deities who must be kept at a safe distance through endless repetitions of mindless mantras and senseless sacrifices.
- Jesus said that we should pray to the Father God who loves us and already knows our every need. When He began His model prayer with “Our Father in heaven…,” our eternal worth and God’s eternal goodness were established beyond dispute.
The issue here is humility.
- True humility requires total honesty. We are aware of both our guilt and of our imputed innocence. God loves us because we are worth so much to Him.
- We are worth so much to the world because God loves us.
And all the time, we are unworthy. God opposes the proud and gives abundant grace to the humble.
“The way of the cross” is a lifestyle based in profound humility and lived in the boldness of an undisputed, undiluted, undying, unfading glory, the glory of cross.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer… Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings from the wicked who assail me, from my mortal enemies who surround me.
Matthew 6:6-9 7
And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven…
Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Hebrews 12:2 NKJV
… looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
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.
But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Lord Jesus, I remember Your cross. I will never let it fade from my mind. Every day I will take up my cross to follow You just as You commanded me. How different are our two crosses! Mine is the delight of family and purposeful living, in the world but not of it, and connected to other members of Your Body in living fellowship with joy as our collective strength. Your cross was heavy with the sins of us all, rough on your shoulders, unforgiving to obtain our forgiveness and unyielding to open the new and living way to God. Amazingly, through it all, there was a joy that was set before You, the joy that Your cross of pain would make my cross a thing of joy. Lord Jesus, today, however unworthy I may be, I remember Your cross. Amen and amen.
Words and Music: Ira Stamphill
1. Unworthy am I of the grace that He gave,
Unworthy to hold to His hand.
Amazed that a King would reach down to a slave.
This love I cannot understand.
A beggar in bondage and alone.
But He made me worthy and now by His grace,
His mercy has made me His own.
2. Unworthy am I of the glory to come,
Unworthy with angels to sing.
I thrill just to know that He loves me so much,
A pauper I walk with the King.
© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved