The Cross Before Me, The World Behind Me
Is it important to have the cross of Calvary always in our forethought? The cross is an instrument of suffering and death. So should we dwell on the cross of Yeshua day and night? I say, “Yes.” It reminds me of a song we used to sing, “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus.” The one verse says, “The cross before me, the world behind me.” This is what we want to discuss today, the importance of the cross before us. There is only one place where we can find our salvation, our forgiveness, and our cleansing, and that is at the cross where the precious shed blood of Yeshua was spilt.
The world seems to be at such a fast pace today. With all the technology at our disposal we can get answers instantly. We are connected by social media so that we can communicate faster than ever before. The years are flying by and each one of us is getting older by the minute. In the last few years the life expectancy of man has fallen. Drugs have increased to the point that hundreds of people in the United States die each week and we want to keep legalizing more and more every year. One other thing that has increased is persecution right here in America and martyrdom around the world. The believer in Yeshua/Jesus is at greater risk today of meeting with opposition to our faith than ever before in this country.
Yeshua told His disciples in Matthew 10:22 that they would be hated. John 15:18-21 says this: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed My teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of My name, for they do not know the One who sent Me.” The believer is destined to be persecuted. Yeshua wanted to prepare His disciples, so He spoke so much about this. In Matthew 5:10-12 in what we call the Sermon on the Mount, one of Yeshua’s first teachings, He said this: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Paul told the Corinthians, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” And again to Timothy he says, “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold of eternal life, whereby you have also been called, and have professed a good profession before many witnesses.” We see Jude tell his readers, “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.”
So how do we contend for the faith? Well, we must always keep it before us. The cross of Calvary, the shed blood of our Messiah, must be our focal point. If we lose sight of the cross then there is not really any meaning to our faith, and the world will cause us to lose sight of our faith. The Scriptures tell us that friendship with the world makes us enemies to God (James 4:4). Yeshua prayed to His Father that we would be in the world but not part of it. In Philippians 3:18-19 Paul speaks of those who are enemies of the cross because their mind is on earthly things.
How do we keep our minds off the world and on God? Paul tells us that we must crucify our flesh in Galatians 5:24. We must die to ourselves. Romans 6:1-7 tells us, “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like His, we will certainly also be united with Him in a resurrection like His. For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.” Our lives are wrapped up in the cross of Yeshua. We must walk in His footsteps, and that leads us to the cross. But only through death will we find life, strength, and courage to walk in the valley of the shadow of death. When persecution and trials and tribulations come, we are able to contend for the faith because once we die to ourselves we live only to God. If God is for us, who can be against us? Who can separate us from the love of God? “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
Yeshua not only warned His disciples, but He encouraged them. John 16:33 records these words: “I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” We as believers must be rooted and grounded in Messiah so that we are able to stand, so that we are overcomers. Let’s take a look at several verses of Scripture that speak on this subject.
1 John 5:4, “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”
James 1:12, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him.”
Romans 8:37, “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
Revelation 3:5, “The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”
And again Revelation 3:21, “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with Me on My throne, as I also conquered and sat down with My Father on His throne.” So we see that if we remain true to our Father through the times of persecution, trials, and tribulations that we will be rewarded. Let’s keep our eyes on Him who saved us by His sacrifice, in the shedding of His blood, and may we also walk in His footsteps.