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Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Cross of Calvary # 17

The Cross of Calvary # 17

Crucified To The World

"Far be it from me to glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ through which the world hath been crucified unto me, and I unto the world" (Galatians 6:14).

On the resurrection side of Calvary, the Apostle looks out upon the world, and sees the Cross once more in its separating power standing between him and the world. With the light of God streaming upon Calvary, he cries, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross".

The Apostle is driven to this outburst by the memory of some who were shirking persecution for the Cross. The Cross was an "offence" in a special way in the days of Paul. It offered salvation full and free to all men, Jew or Gentile, apart from the external rite of circumcision. This meant the end of Judaism with its exclusiveness, and its carnal commandments. He Who is a Spirit, henceforth sought worshipers to worship Him in spirit, and in truth; who would offer Him spiritual sacrifices of praise in the spiritual temple of the heart (John 4:23, 24).

To preach such a gospel needs must mean offence, and the pleasing of Christ rather than men.

Nay more, "I have been crucified with Christ" even to the religious world, cries Paul, and if I preach the Cross as the Lord Christ has unveiled it tome, I see that His Cross will be the "instrument of my crucifixion as of His!" In truth I have already suffered the loss of all things, but God forbid that I should think aught of my sufferings for Christ, rather let me glory "in His sufferings for me". In the light of all that Calvary meant to Him" the offence of the Cross is my proudest boast". God forbid that I should glory in anything save in the Cross of Christ. On that Cross I have been crucified to the world, and the world has been crucified to me. Henceforth we are dead each to the other. In Christ Jesus old things have passed away. Circumcision is out, and uncircumcision is not. All external distinctions have vanished. The new spiritual creation is all in all.

Such a view of Calvary as this is only to be known on the life-side of the Cross, when in the light of God, is stands out in all its glory, as the wisdom and power of God.

In early days we shrink from the demands of the Cross, and it only seems to speak of separation and death, but as the soul walks in intimate fellowship with the Loving One, His death on Calvary becomes illuminated with heavenly light, and the vision grows more and more acute to see into the depths of the sufferings of Christ, and the glories that shall follow, "which things angels desire to look into."

To Paul the Cross is, as it were, a great gulf fixed between him and every phase of this present evil world. Crucified with Christ he is not only delivered from the tyranny of sin, and the claims of the law, but from the world itself, in all its aspects.

The Lord Christ died "that He might deliver us out of this present evil age"; on the Cross delivering us "out of the power of darkness" - the world-rulers of this darkness" - and translating us "into the kingdom of the Son". We are therefore crucified to the world, not simply "worldly" things, or ways, but to the world itself; and, crucified with Christ, we must expect the world to look upon us as it looked upon Him, when He hung upon the tree. Nailed there with Him, we too must look at the world from the Cross, and with the spirit of the crucified Jesus pray for those who mail us to the Cross.

That we may view the world in the light of the Cross, let us once more go to the place called Calvary, and see arrayed against the Holy One of God all the elements that go to make up this present evil world, and know what all who are united to Christ must expect, if so be they suffer with Him, that they may be also glorified together.

"The soldiers when they had crucified Jesus took His garments... Let us... cast lots" (John 6:23, 24).

In the four soldiers gambling at the foot of the Cross, we see that side of human nature which is callous to the sufferings of others, and takes advantage of all who are in its power.

Alas, what multitudes today are represented by the executioners of the Christ. They cry "let us eat and drink,for tomorrow we die", and have no thought beyond the physical needs of the moment.

To souls who are responsive to the crucifixion, and capable of feeling sensitively for others, what suffering it is to meet this element in this evil world. Alas for all who are in its power!

"The chief priests mocking Him, with the scribes and elders,said ... let Him now come down from the Cross, and we will believe." (Matthew 27:41, 42).

There is also a "religious" world which rejects the Cross of Jesus. They who are not prepared to follow a crucified Lord; who "love the chief place", and the "chief seats", and the salutations of the market-places, and to be called of men, "Rabbi". They who "say and do not", and "all their works they do for to be seen of men". This religious world loves not the Cross, although in the twentieth century it bears the name of Him Who died upon the Cross. Love of power, and the praise of men, is contrary to the spirit of the Cross.

"They that passed by railed on Him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ha! Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save Thyself, and come down from the Cross." (Mark 15:29).

The mixed multitude pass by the Cross, and join in the general cry. They are but sheep led as a flock by the leaders of men. They see the mind of the leaders, and are quickly swayed by the spirit of the hour. They pass by the Cross, and rail on the crucified One, casting words that He had spoken in His teeth.

Soldiers and thieves, rulers, chief priests, elders, and scribes, with all the multitude, were of one mind that awful day. Religious men, rough soldiers, criminals, and men of the world, all forgot the barriers that separated them, and joined together at Calvary. One united cry came from their lips, "If" He was the Christ, "let Him save Himself." The Cross appeared to them the proof that He was not the Son of God. Let him give supernatural signs, and they would believe. It was not too late to prove Himself the Messiah, "let Him come down" - that was all!

So it is today. All the elements of this present evil world become united at Calvary. The fleshly element; the wise of the world; the criminal classes; the traditional religionists; join with the special forces of the evil one in the great revolt against the Cross. And once again they who stand by the Cross of Jesus are a little band, the very preaching of the Cross marking them out as "crucified to the world". The Cross becomes the instrument of their crucifixion as of His. The Cross once again manifests its severing power. There is no neutral ground at Calvary.

Had we stood by the Cross of Jesus that awful day, would we have cried "The offence of the Cross shall be my proudest boast!" Shall we consent to take the Cross, and to be ostracized by the world? The worldly world; the world with its aims, its interests, its spirit of self-seeking, self-glorifying and self-love; yea, even the religious world, in so far as the "elements of the world" are in it, and it seeks to come between us and our Lord. "Jesus ... suffered without the gate. Let us therefore go forth unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach.

~Jessie Penn-Lewis~

(continued with # 18)

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