Christ A Sign Spoken Against (continued)
c. The Challenge of His Cross
There was further the significance of His death and of His resurrection as a sign that was spoken against. Yes, His Cross indeed was the signal for much speaking against. Has it not been so all the way though, and is it not so today? How hated is that Cross, when given its true interpretation! It is all right as heroics: yes, men will have the Cross on that basis. But bring in the true meaning of the Cross of Christ - that it is God's "No" to man and all his and all his heroics, His final and utter "No" to every man, good and bad, and that when Jesus cried, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Mark 15:34), He was bearing our curse in God's utter "No" to the fallen race: bring that in, and it is an offence. Say that to anyone who has any feeling of his own importance and dignity and goodness, and who considers there is something of account in himself and he will be very offended. We never accept the Cross of the Lord Jesus until we see how utterly worthless we are, and then the Cross becomes our glory; we side with God and say, "Thou art right, Lord, in saying "No" to me." Have you got there, are you being brought there? You see what God is doing if you are being brought where you recognize you have no claims upon God, no rights before Him, and where you realize your utter wretchedness and unworthiness and unfitness for His presence. You are in agreement with the Cross as heaven's "No" when you get there. They all had to come there - Peter and John and all the rest. But to be there is to be very near the great "Yes" of God in the resurrection. The resurrection proclaims that another Man, other than ourselves, passes through into heaven. The door is wide open to this other Man, Who has taken that first man down into judgment and death and has left him there. Heaven is opened to this new Man, this risen Man, and "if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection" (Romans 6:5). It is God's great "Yes" to the risen Christ, and we who have been united with Him come into that "Yes"; we have the open door of heaven. Now, you see, that doctrine is an offence to any self-important, self-sufficient flesh in this world, and it is spoken against. Christ crucified is a sign spoken against; to the Greeks foolishness, to the Jews a stumblingblock; but to us who believe, Christ (yes, crucified) the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:23-24).
(continued with # 23 - (The Fruit of the Fellowship of His Sufferings