Cross thoughts: Christian ideas seen in Sudanese every day life.
You may have to look hard to see the cross right on the top of this church building, in Hiyya Salaam (I hope I remember correctly). In three conversations our Lord Jesus uses the words, “Lifted up”, to describe Himself crucified on a cross.
Read them for yourself in: John 3:13-18; 8:27-30; 12:30-36.
The words “lift up” mean ‘to move to a higher position’. For Jesus this meant a cross.
(1) During a plague of venomous snakes, recorded in Numbers 21:5-9, Moses had a bronze snake erected on a pole. Bitten and poisoned people who looked in faith to the God-given totem were immediately healed. In John 3:14 Jesus says He must be lifted up (on a cross) then everyone who looks to Him by faith will be forgiven and be born again into eternal life. This one man’s death (God the Son, Jesus’ death) brings God and humankind together by dealing once for all with the otherwise insurmountable barrier of peoples’ sin.
The cross is the place where God’s love and justice visibly meet. God retains the integrity of His justice – death for sin; God also pours out the fullness of His love – forgiveness for the repentant sinner.
(2) When the Pharisees, Jewish religious leaders, were having trouble understanding teaching Jesus was giving, He told them they would see clearly only after He had been lifted up, John 8:28. Jesus had come from the Father in heaven to our earth, sent on a mission. He was to obey and please the Father by reconciling repentant sinners to our Creator. Believing this truth brings the freedom many people seek today, John 8:31-32.
Be sure you look in the right place. It is not found anywhere else.
The cross is climactic. God’s plan of redemption cost the Father His only Son and it cost the Son His human life. God kissed the entire human race with super-abundant love at the cross of Jesus.
(3) Even the people Jesus lived amongst on earth did not recognise who He really was. When a voice spoke from heaven folk were confused over who said what, and even if anyone had said anything, John 12:27-31.
“Lifted up” was a phrase that meant something specific when Jesus lived. It referred to crucifixion. It softened the word much as ‘sleep’ softens ‘death’ today, John 12:33. For Jesus the cross was His mission in life and death. It was there, in that single and precise focal point of human history, His people would be drawn to Him for the salvation provided by Father God.
Unlike the relief supplies provided by the UN and other agencies, God makes absolutely no mistakes in allocating salvation to those He has chosen.
The cross is inevitable. Jesus consciously obeys His Father in life and chooses to go to the cross. For Jesus the Lamb, the predicted “hour” must arrive, John 12:23. Although sovereignly appointed, Jesus mysteriously and voluntarily lays life down in His own free will, John 10:18. Mystery, not contradiction!
I remember singing at conferences in Gereif, Bahri and various student centres: “Lift Jesus higher”. “Jesus higher, higher, higher; Satan lower, lower, lower”. At Jesus’ cross there was victory and there was defeat.
The One who was killed looked defeated – but in reality He gave life away to win the resurrection victory of Easter day. For us Christians, every day is resurrection day!
Our Lord Jesus lives in us and one day soon will return to take us back with Him into heaven’s glory.
HALLELUJAH! Our God reigns.
Will you with me, live to lift Jesus higher and higher, to the highest possible place?