Hanging On To The Cross
Ng Wee Keong
We know Jesus resurrected after three days in the tomb. His new life signifies to us that one day, if we stay faithful till the end, we too will gain a new resurrection like the Son of Man. Scholars have called the Resurrection “the greatest miracle ever”.
But today I write about what has been hailed as “the second greatest miracle” - the Crucifixion.
Christ being hung on the Cross was God’s ultimate sacrifice as an atonement for humanity’s sin. For that reason and that reason alone, you and I can be cleansed of our iniquities and we are presented clean before the Lord.
Without the Crucifixion, there can be no Resurrection. Without death, there is no new life. Without a period of darkness, no light can come forth.
They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get. It was the third hour when they crucified him. The written notice of the charge against him read: the king of the Jews. They crucified two robbers with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, "So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!" In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. "He saved others," they said, "but he can't save himself! Let this Christ, this King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe." Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
(Mark 15:22-32 NIV)
We note two incidents during this event of unparalleled suffering and pain for Jesus: (1) that he was offered myrrh mixed with wine vinegar – a substance that had an anaesthetic effect; and (2) the crowd and teachers of the law challenged Jesus to prove his divinity by jumping down from the Cross - a challenge on the ego.
Perhaps we all have been there. Anything that can numb or distract us from physical, emotional or mental discomfort is welcomed. No one likes to suffer, even if it is due to our own doing. And many a times some of us have gravitated to alcohol, retail therapy, food or even pornography to temporarily induce an insensitivity to pain.
Yet Jesus didn’t. He faced his pain with a clear head. He trusted that God would be there in the midst of his suffering and indeed God was.
Then the crowd began to taunt Jesus. IF he was who he claimed to be, he should descend from the Cross as proof. When I am in pain, I often wish to take matters into my own hands, and many a times I succeeded. I have said or done things to effect a change so as to shorten my suffering, but I later came to regret it (usually on hindsight).
Jesus could have called down legions of angels; but he didn’t. His ego was neither stroked nor bruised. It reminds me of the time when he was tempted by Satan in the desert. A similar challenge was given to him to “jump down” from a high place to prove he is the Son of God. At the Cross, the crowd inadvertently became Satan’s mouthpiece. In both situations, Jesus bore his suffering to its full extent.
Jesus’ Crucifixion was the second greatest miracle not because of what Jesus did but because of what he did not do. He trusted in his Father in the midst of pain. He was patient with God and himself. This is often easier said than done.
I believe the Cross and Resurrection are the path for our lives; what happened to Jesus is what will happen to all of us, in a similar but lesser way. We repented and died to our sins. We exited the waters of baptism to a new life. So it is the same when we are in the darkness of the confusing in-between times. Jesus hung on the cross; my invitation is also for us to HANG ON to the cross.
Finally, it has been said when we feel we are in darkness, it is because God’s light is SO BRIGHT that what little light we have seem like darkness. God is with us in pain, suffering and certainly when we re-orientate our lives to His will again.
“When you are going through hell, keep on going,” said Sir Winston Churchill in a speech to the Allied forces during the height of World War II.
God says, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Rom 12:12)
Ng Wee Keong
After serving in the full time ministry in Central Christian Church for 25 years, Wee Keong stepped out on faith to seek outside employment and continue his adventure with God. He is now doing mediation work and considers his salvation, his wife and sons and his spiritual experiences the greatest gains in his life.