“Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know–this man delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.” Acts 2:22-23. If Peter were testifying today, Peter may have told this crowd, “You missed the message, guys.”
I recently missed a very important meeting with a group of volunteers who were counting on me to make several important contributions and give a report.
After the meeting I called the chairman and asked him why I wasn’t invited. He said, “You were. I sent you an email last week.” When I checked my email I discovered, to my chagrin, that I, in fact, missed the message. The group made several decisions that seriously jeopardized my role in the group.
Have you ever missed an important message? It was right there in front of you, crystal clear and timely. And you just missed it. As a result you probably lost time, face, trust of others and more. The truth is: when you miss a message you suffer loss.
In Matthew 18 we read that the Jewish rulers, and many of the Jews, missed the message of Christ and the meaning of the Cross.
Today can you understand that Jesus’ message during His ministry was that understanding the Cross was key to living a life of true impact?
If we’re going to impact the world around us we need to know and believe the message of the Cross.
It’s not an easy message to live out. Those with whom we associate will at times accuse us of doing things we did not do, out of jealousy, resentment or anger. Those spiteful accusations cost us. They can crucify our credibility. They can, and have, cost some of us our jobs, our reputations or our families.
In addition to those accusations, we are sometimes confronted with our own confusion about the message of the Cross. Jesus endured the Cross so He could establish His Kingdom for us. Folks in Jesus’ time only knew one kind of king, a king who held power and lorded it over his subjects. They had never heard of a spiritual King.
Jesus message promised a glorious, spiritual Kingdom where Jesus would rule and reign and provide peace and joy for everyone. The idea of a spiritual kingdom confused the Jews and others, who had never been exposed to such teachings before.
We can become confused today when we read God’s word or hear conflicting messages about its interpretation. For example, I used to meet weekly with a small group of Christian brothers for coffee, prayer, and guy talk. We were talking about Jesus being the same yesterday, today and tomorrow and one guy said, “Of course Jesus was not always around.” The rest of us dropped our jaws. “Oh, really,” I said. “How did he come about?” The guy said with confidence, “Oh, he was born in Bethlehem.” This guy had been a regular church goer for years, and he still did not understand the message of the Cross.
Another thing Jesus experienced was judgment from his own people. The Pharisees believed that Jesus was an affront to all they stood for. They would lose power, influence and money if the people started following Jesus.
We’re confronted with the same behavior from people who don’t understand us. I knew a person who made lightning first impressions about people based on some pretty silly criteria. “I don’t like her voice,” he’d say, or “He’s too talkative.” Then he’d avoid getting to know them any further because of what he believed to be annoyances.
In addition to accusations, confusion and judgment, fear creeps in when we don’t understand Jesus’ method of authority. Have you ever worked in an office where more than one person gave you tasks to complete? You thought, if I do this for the manger, the supervisor might not like the way I did it. But, if I do it for the supervisor, I may find myself on the hot seat with my manager. It is burdensome and frightening when we don’t understand who’s in charge.
Pilate harbored fear. He found himself caught between his own waning authority, Caesar’s authority, the authority of the Jewish leaders, and Jesus’ professed authority as a king. Pilate was in a lose-lose situation. Don’t we find ourselves in that awkward position at times when crucial decisions loom?
What is our response? If He is our Lord and Savior, if we live totally surrendered to Him, if we trust Him, if we believe and understand the Cross and the message of Jesus’ death and resurrection, then we’ll get the message Jesus has for us and allow Him to make those crucial decisions and respond in us and through us.