It is an obvious fact that wherever the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ has been faithfully preached, it has not only brought hope and new life to some but also caused trouble with many more. Wherever this message has gone it has aroused antagonism. As it was a stumbling-block to the Jews and an absurdity to the Greeks in the first days, so it has ever since been unacceptable not only to men of the world but even to many religious people.
This is a fact, in spite of its being the most popular symbol. There is hardly a city in Christendom where the architecture, galleries of art, collections of literature and conservatoires of music do not give a prominent place to the sacred sign of the cross. It is a pity, then, that so much of the preaching and teaching in the Christian Church is either confined to the “Historic Jesus”, which presents a crossless Christ, or to an interpretation of the cross which is much less than the Scriptural one.
Yet the consistent message of the whole Bible is that the Cross is God’s way of salvation, His sufficient and His only way. It is further very clear that this has been the message which God has blessed to the salvation of men. It was dominant in New Testament days, and the recovery of, or re-emphasis upon, some vital and essential phase of that Cross gave rise to such movements as are signified by names like Luther, the Wesleys, Whitfield, Moody, Spurgeon and many other God-honoured men.
Why has the Cross always been such a maker of trouble and cause of offence? We need to make it plain that no exception is taken to the heroics of the Cross or its aesthetics. Sacrifice, suffering, unselfish devotion, self-effacing service for the good of others, enduring the penalty of setting oneself against current evils; these are romantic elements which are popularly appreciated. It is the deeper meaning which the Bible gives to the Cross which provokes men’s opposition.
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