The First Prayer of the Cross (Part 3)

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August 1, 2018

John 12:27-28

27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!”

CONSIDER THIS

Let’s begin by remembering our framework: THE CROSS, MY CROSS, our crosses.

While we are at it, let’s also remember this statement from yesterday’s reading: “THE CROSS is the weight of the glory of the love of God for the whole world, beginning with me.” This is why the first prayer of the cross is so important:

28 Father, glorify your name!”

So what is MY CROSS? It is the weight of the glory of the love of God for me. I like the way Galatians 2:20 expresses it:

20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

My sin is crucified with Christ. I am forgiven, cleansed, and pardoned. It is as if I never sinned. This can be easier to believe than to actually receive. Why? Because along with letting go of our sin, we must also let go of our righteousness. My sin is all the ways I destroy my sense of worth as a human being. My righteousness is all the ways I try and recover that sense of worth. Just as our failures are no longer a mark against us, so our successes are no longer a mark in our favor. Our entire system of ledger keeping must die.

When THE CROSS becomes MY CROSS I live in the economy of grace, free of the system of condemnation and commendation. I live under the weight of the glory of the unconditional, unmerited, unwavering love of God—which to experience is to truly live.

Here’s the kicker. Because Jesus carried the weight of the Cross, we experience the weightlessness of it. When we can finally let go of all our disqualifications (which is easier), and lay down all our qualifications (which is much harder), we can finally experience being embraced for who we most deeply and truly are. There’s more. We can finally set others free from the prison of our condemnation and commendation and embrace them for who they most deeply and truly are. To the extent we live in the system of condemnation and commendation we impose that on others.

THE CROSS becomes MY CROSS when I take up MY CROSS and follow Jesus, which means seeking first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and leaving behind the Kingdom of the World. Here there is no guilt or shame, no condemnation or commendation. Again, Paul’s word to the Galatians captures it:

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. Galatians 6:14

Finally, there are “our crosses.” Our crosses come to us in those places where the ways of the Kingdom clash with the ways of the World and call on us to make difficult decisions. They usually involve profound surrender of our self-interest and often come at great personal cost. Once THE CROSS becomes MY CROSS, our little crosses (great and small) become the proving grounds where we learn the ways of descent, death, resurrection, and ascension. In this way this first prayer of the Cross becomes actualized in our lives as our Father brings great glory to his name.

These little crosses become the every day opportunities to lift up the prayer for glory,

beginning with an honest assessment of the challenge:

“Now my soul is troubled

Realizing the real decision facing us:

and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’?

Remembering who we are and why we are here:

No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.

And abandoning oneself to the mystery—claiming THE CROSS as MY CROSS in an act of absolute trust, declaring:

Father, glorify your name!”

This is the agonizing and astonishing pathway whereby we are transformed from one degree of glory to the next.

Once again from the top, this time with feeling: ;0)

27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!”

THE PRAYER

Almighty Ascended Lord Jesus Christ, you are high and exalted yet nearer than our breath. You are the way of THE CROSS. Lead me ever deeper into this way of making your Cross my Cross so that my many little crosses become places for the demonstration of your glory.  Right here, Jesus. Right now, Jesus. Amen.

THE QUESTIONS

  1. Are these connections and progressions clear to you—from THE CROSS to MY CROSS to our crosses? Where does it remain unclear?
  2. Are you still caught up in the world’s ways of conforming us into its pattern through the system of condemnation and commendation? Do you want to be free from it?
  3. Are you ready to let go of all of your disqualifications to live fully in the Kingdom of God? More to the point—are you ready to let go of all your qualifications?

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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. jd.walt@seedbed.com.

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

2 COMMENTS

  1. We say ‘guilt & shame” but maybe “guilt v shame” is more accurate, according to Brene Brown, a researcher famous for her work on vulnerability. This is a very short clip on the positive power of guilt and the negative power of shame. Don’t know how this translates into honor-shame cultures, but I think it is a very useful insight for Western culture.
    https://youtu.be/DqGFrId-IQg

  2. Good job!
    “Once THE CROSS becomes MY CROSS, our little crosses (great and small) become the proving grounds where we learn the ways of descent, death, resurrection, and ascension.”

    “3.Are you ready to let go of all of your disqualifications to live fully in the Kingdom of God? More to the point—are you ready to let go of all your qualifications?”

    I am getting there.

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