Daily Devotions – The Insult of the Cross

 

 

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Matthew 5:39 (NIV)

39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.

Luke 23:32-43 (NIV)

32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” 36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” 38 There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews. 39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

In Jesus’ day being slapped across the face was an insult similar to someone giving someone the middle finger. It was a dramatic insult meant to bring shock and shame. But the gospel writer, Luke, shows that while all those gathered around Jesus thought they were insulting him, Jesus was actually insulting them! How could someone beaten, bloody, hanging naked on a cross be a savior? That’s ridiculous! Yet, as the apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:23, “we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to Gentiles”. The insulting cross attacks our sense of control over the world around us; it attacks our belief in ourselves; it attacks our presuppositions of how we think God should act! Maybe you have things under control and you don’t need a savior or God doesn’t seem to be doing things your way. The insult of the cross ultimately leads to a new life filled with love if we are willing to “turn the other cheek”.

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