During Jesus final meal with the Twelve, he made this startling announcement: All of you shall be offended [fall away] because of me this night. (Mk. 14:27b) Peter, aghast at the thought of denying Christ, passionately blurted out, I will lay down my life for youLord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death." (Jn. 13:37; Lk. 22:33)
Jesus knew that when the disciples begin to comprehend the torture and death awaiting him, they would loose their trust in him, and deny all association with him, lest they too suffer the same fate. He would become an offense to them and they would become cowards in deserting him.
So, in the white heat environment at Jesus abduction, Peter succumbed to his fears, by following Christ at a distance, and later by outright denial of any association with him: Peter began to call down curses on himself andswore to them, I don’t know the man!" (Matt. 26:74)
Because the stigma and stench of cross-related deaths could not be tolerated in the sophisticated and polite society of Jerusalem, the convicted were strung up outside the city at that horrid place called Golgotha, which literally means, a skull. In all probability it was named such because of the many skulls of people who had suffered crucifixion there. (See Matt. 27:23; Act. 7:58; 14:19; Heb 13:12)
Today the cross of Christ continues to remain an offense to many. However, to the redeemed, the cross of Calvary holds a special beauty. As one poet penned, In the cross of Christ I glory, towring oer the wrecks of time; all the light of sacred story gathers round its head sublime. St. Paul also expressed profound love for the cross, 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. (Gal. 6:14)
Yet, tragically many of us mirror Peter and the other disciples shame of Christ and the cross by:
- Our silence among friends and associates in not declaring our allegiance to Christ as one of His followers. (Matt. 10:32, 33)
- Not standing up for the truth of the gospel in the public square.
- Living a self-indulgent life that belies the teaching of Christ to take up our cross. (Lk. 9:23,24)
- Not purposefully pursuing the lost with the message of the cross. Often, due to our fear of rejection. (Col. 1:28,29)
If down deep you truly are ashamed of Christ and his cross, consider this:
- Jesus is not ashamed to call [us his] brothers. (Heb. 2:11)
- If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. (Lk. 9:26)
- If you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. (I Pet. 4:16)
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, it is precisely because of the cross of Christ that I have been given a new life and an eternal hope. Grant me the courage today to embrace the cross and all that it represents by reflecting you in my thoughts, motives and actions. Today may my life project the very aroma of Jesus Christ. Amen (2 Cor. 2:15, 16)