“And I, as I am lifted up from the earth, will attract everyone to me and gather them around me.” He put it this way to show how he was going to be put to death.
From the outset of Jesus’ ministry, the devil tried to deter Him from going to the cross. In the third test or temptation, Satan offered to give back all that was lost since the fall in exchange for Jesus’ worship (Matthew 4:8-9). We know that this was a way to avoid the cross because Jesus had to suffer in order to restore what had been lost. In today’s Scripture, Jesus makes it clear that the cross was the only way He was going to “attract everyone to [Himself] and gather them around [Him].” Without the cross, God wasn’t going to be glorified. Is it any wonder that the devil tried to stop Jesus from going to the cross?
Many Christians wear a cross, but don’t carry a cross, forgetting Jesus’ words in Matthew 16:24, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” So when everything seems to be going according to (their) plan, God doesn’t get the glory, they do. If we’re not suffering for doing the right thing, then we’re probably doing something wrong. We don’t like the concept of suffering and the cross, but the truth is, without them, God isn’t glorified. As the saying goes, “there’s no testimony without the test.” And as I’ve come to realize, without the storm, we wouldn’t have a reason to walk on water.
Listen to what the apostle Paul had to say, “For my part, I am going to boast about nothing but the Cross of our Master, Jesus Christ. Because of that Cross, I have been crucified in relation to the world, set free from the stifling atmosphere of pleasing others and fitting into the little patterns that they dictate” (Galatians 6:14). Paul often wrestled with the false teachers of his day who rejected the concept of the cross and tried to promote the Gospel without it. But the Gospel is all about the cross.
As we journey to Easter, let’s not forget that if it were not for the cross of Jesus, we wouldn’t have something to boast about. Our lives depended on it, yet it cost Jesus His life. May it be a reminder to take up our cross daily and follow the Saviour because He is mostly glorified when we do.
“There are no crown-wearers in heaven who were not cross-bearers below.” -Charles Spurgeon