At the risk of being branded a heretic, I admit to being a little disappointed in the alleged location of the Cross of Christ. Wait, why am I sharing about the Cross on Christmas Eve? That’s easy – the Cross was the reason for the manger.
On a recent visit to Israel, I eagerly anticipated seeing where the cross would have been. One theory places it on the skull-shaped mountain beside the Garden Tomb. However, archaeologists now lean toward evidence that supports the location within the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
Instead of the cramped cathedrals thronged with people, I would have enjoyed something more personal. It would have been peaceful to pause on Mount Calvary to reflect on the Cross’ significance and the events that transpired there. Similar to what the character Balian did in the movie The Kingdom of Heaven, it would have been incredible to just sit on the hilltop without churches, monuments, or throngs—to be near the foot of the Cross and marvel at how it calls, compels and changes me.
During His earthly travels, how often did Jesus pass the place of the cross? Did He pause on His journeys and consider its implications? Each time I watch the movie, The Passion of the Christ, I cringe and am tempted to look away at even the recreation of the monstrous attacks on Jesus. In His humanity, I wonder did He avoid the place of the cross? Did He shudder at its barbaric cruelty and shame, until His appointed destiny when He embraced it fully?
Compelled by the Cross
Paul clarified that the love of Christ compels us (2 Corinthians 5:14). That means it arrests, constrains, perplexes, or compresses us. In other words, the love Jesus demonstrated on the cross stops me in my tracks and forces me to acknowledge its enormity. I try to understand, yet cannot fully grasp it. How incomprehensible the willingness to suffer such horror, humiliation, and hatred simply because He loves me and wanted to provide the way to break sin’s penalty and power and reconcile me to Himself. Wow, what a Savior!
To that end, the cross compels a refusal to compromise my faith by caressing the blood-stained hands of the world. It prompts a separation from the world. After all, how can I associate, acclimate, or placate the very worldly system, culture, and mindset that rejected and crucified Jesus and hates everything He represents?
I personalize the cross of Christ by realizing God chose and loved me from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). The priceless sacrifice and eternal victory of the cross urge me to live in such a way as to please him who enlisted me to His side (2 Timothy 2:4).
Comprehending the Love of the Cross
The love of Calvary is the love that many waters cannot quench. It is the love that will not let go, the love that suffers long, is kind and always endures.
Thinking of the unconditional and all-encompassing love evidenced by the cross convicts my heart and fosters an intense sense of humility and gratitude. It inspires me to tell others of its life-changing, life-giving power. Further, it awakens the desire to warn unbelievers, encourage believers, and equip fellow Christians.
I am not glorifying the cross, rather, glorying in it and memorializing the divine love and eternal sacrifice it portrays. Jesus despised the shame of the cross yet endured it for the joy set before Him (Hebrews 12:2). He broke sin’s penalty, power, and presence and now sits on His heavenly throne interceding on our behalf.
Pausing in the shadow of the cross reminds me of the supreme sacrifice made on my behalf. Lingering in the shadow of the empty tomb reminds me of the victory over sin, hell, and the grave. Living in the shadow of the ascended and glorified Lord reminds me to walk in the newness of His eternal life.
Commitment to the Cross
Jesus said, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself” (John 12:32). Essentially, He described His death on the cross as the compelling attraction for the salvation of the world. Yet, His statement also reveals that only by lifting Him up—exalting Him, glorifying Him, proclaiming His message—does His supernatural, transformational power flow. Only His name, His sacrifice, His cross command such power, gratitude and personal commitment. Few verses summarize more beautifully such personal commitment to the cross of Christ than Galatians 6:14. “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
Father God, thank You for calling me to the cross by Your compelling love. May my life reveal a passionate commitment to its transforming compassion, power, and influence.