In Order to Get to the Glory, You Have To Go Through the Pain: The Necessity of the Cross

Posted: April 21, 2015 in Gospel of Luke
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Luke 18:31-34 — Sometimes we hear what we want to hear and we ignore the truth. Has this ever happened to you? Sometimes we don’t want to go through the hard stuff to get to the good stuff? Has this ever happened to you?

It is like when football season begins at a big time high school football program. I qualify this as big-time programs because at my high school, if you were a warm body, you at least made the team. But at big time programs, it’s different. There are many who come out for tryouts. There are many who make it through the initial tryouts and make the initial cut. But as the grind of summer workouts and practices begins to take hold, they are some that begin to drop away. Only those that are committed to the team are the ones that remain when the season begins. They get to enjoy the spoils that go to football players. They are the big men on campus but yet they have to go through a lot of guts to get to the glories of Friday nights. No guts. No glory. Many want the glory but are not willing to put forth the investment. Many hear the stories of the glories accorded to football players but few truly hear about the costs involved.

It is like when you desire to get a cancer-free report about your colon. It is great news on the other side. But before you get to the other side, you’ve got to go through a day of no solid food and an evening of taking medicine to cleanse your colon. Then you have to be put to sleep the next morning and have a doctor place a foreign object with a camera on it up your colon so they can see inside your colon. On the other side of it, like yesterday morning, you get the good report that you have no polyps and that your colon looks really good. You have to go through the pain to get to the good stuff. You have to go through a night of going through gurgling sounds in your stomach after taking the cleansing medication and drinking tons of liquids. You have to go through “showers of power” as I called them on the toilet. You have spill your guts out to get to the other side, to get to the glory of the good report. If you didn’t do the pain, you don’t get the gain. Without the night of pain, there could be no colonoscopy and there could be no knowledge that you have no polyps that lead to cancer in your colon. No guts. No glory. Some men are not willing to go through the night of many bathroom visits to get to the glory of hearing that you are healthy inside.

In today’s passage, I think the disciples were much like my illustrations. The heard what Jesus was saying but I think they did not want to hear the truth of the matter. I think they wanted so bad that the Messiah be a conquering hero that they did not want to hear of the suffering that had been predicted for the Messiah throughout the prophecies of the Old Testament. Jesus had predicted already twice (in Matthew) that He would suffer and die as predicted by Scripture and, as predicted in Scripture, that He would arise on the third day. In Matthew, they did not hear the prediction and proceeded to argue over who would be ranked highest in heaven. They did not want to hear of the required suffering. Just as sometimes young men in high school here only about the glory of football but not the excruciating hard work of it. They want Friday night without the Monday through Thursday. Scripture is plain. Jesus was going to suffering and die. The reason was that it was not because He was some pawn in a political game between the Jewish Sanhedrin and the Roman occupying overlords. The reason was not because he bucked the established order and lost. The real reason is because of sin. God orchestrated the events of Jerusalem during Passion Week because of sin. He used the events right down to the casting of lots for Jesus’ clothing to fulfill all the prophecies of the Messiah who came to be afflicted for our sins. His whole life was leading to the Week of His Passion in Jerusalem. His whole life on earth was a prelude to the cross. The suffering was necessary. Jesus knew it and Jesus went through it because it was necessary. The whole sacrificial system for atonement of sins was a prelude to the once and final sacrifice for all time by Jesus. Man is sin-filled. We are sinners. The disciples are sinners. All of us have committed at least one sin in our lives. All of us have committed many sins in our lives. All it takes is one sin to separate us from God for all eternity. One sin. That’s it. Just one! And done. The disciples did not want to hear that. Their minds could not grasp that. They wanted a conquering Messiah that would take over the throne of David and drive out the Romans. They wanted to be elevated members of the new order that the conquering Messiah would bring. They did not want to hear that the real necessity of the Messiah’s coming was our sin and that He was going to pay the price for it on the cross. For their sin, for my sin, for your sin. He HAD to go to the cross because of God’s love for us juxtaposed against His justice against sin. Sin cannot exist in the presence of a perfect God. It must be consumed. It must be burned up. It must be punished. Jesus HAD to go to the cross to be the sacrifice for sin, to take on the punishment of all sins for all time. All sins for all time. How much wrath do you think that was! A whole bunch. The power of not just an F5 tornado but let’s day an F50 tornado of wrath poured out on Jesus was necessary to pay the price for all sins of all time past, present, and future of all mankind. The sheer force of that punishment Jesus felt and exclaimed for the first time in eternity that He felt separated from the Trinity. The force of that punishment was necessary because God though a just God is also a God of love who wants to be reunited with His created. The disciples did not want to hear the reality of the necessity of the death of Jesus in Jerusalem. They wanted an untouchable conquering hero. They did not want to hear that suffering was going to be involved. Just as some high school boys want the glory of Friday nights under the lights, they don’t want to hear about or deal with the fact that much suffering is involved Monday through Thursday and that it is necessary to get to Friday night, the disciples did not want to hear of a suffering Messiah. Just as some men are not willing to go through the pain of the night before a colonoscopy and refuse to hear anything about it further, the disciples did not want to recognize the necessity of what Jesus was talking about. His death was necessary for the expiation of their sins and yours and mine. The pain was necessary for the gain.

What was then the gain for the pain? It was at the other end of the suffering and death. Just as the pain of running the hill as football players until you think your legs are going to fall off and your guts are going to jump out of your mouth to get away from you, there was a goal to Jesus’ suffering and death. Just as all the wind sprints have a point. Just as all the six inches have a point. Just as the endurance running has a point. Just as all the tire runs have a point. Just as all the man in the middle exercises in football have a point. It is all to get your prepared for the battles on Friday night. It is all to get your prepared for the game. It is all to get to the glory. Just as all the medicine taken in prior to a colonoscopy has a point. Just as not eating solid food has a point. Just as having the showers of power has a point. Just as having absolutely nothing to eat at all the day of the procedure has a point. It is to enable the doctor to see and report. It is to get to the glory of the other side of the pain and suffering. The disciples heard of the necessary pain and stopped. They did not hear the good stuff. At the other end of the necessary pain and suffering was the resurrection. The resurrection was the good stuff. The resurrection means that the pain and suffering had a point. The necessary gives way to the reward. The price was paid to get to the what was purchased. The purchased was our freedom. The purchased was our freedom from the penalty of the law. The purchased was the pardon from our eternal separation from God. The resurrection proves to us that we have new life in Jesus Christ. We no longer have to pay the price of eternal separation from God. The resurrection proves that Jesus Christ is greater that sin and death. We see through Jesus that death is no longer the end. We have proof through His resurrection that there is eternal life. We see that there is a promise of resurrection for us all for those who believe in Him. We had to have the suffering and death on the cross to get to the resurrection. Without the suffering and death and the penalty paid by Jesus for our sin, the whole thing is pointless. The purpose of the suffering and death on the cross was to solve the sin problem and to reconcile us to God. Without the pain, the joy of the resurrection is not near the joy that it is. Just as the joy of Friday night on the football field is realizing that all that hard work Monday through Thursday made you ready for the game, made you ready for anything that happened during it, made you have the endurance to handle anything that happened in the game, so is Jesus on the cross necessary to get to the empty tomb. Just as all the cleansing necessary the night before the colonoscopy is necessary to get to the report of the doctor on the other side, Jesus on the cross is necessary to get to the Risen Savior. No pain. No gain.

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