Eyes on the Cross
Tony R. Nester
I once learned about the way the Navy prepares soldiers for its elite team of Navy SEALS. These Special Forces soldiers specialize in water-based assaults and rescue operations. They can find themselves in freezing water for extended periods of time. So part of their training is to march out to a beach, lock arms, and then, on command, proceed out into cold water, and then lie down. They do this when the water temperature is cold enough to thoroughly chill them. Each time the tide comes in, they tighten their abdominal muscles to life their heads above the water. After a set period of time they are ordered back onto the beach for a break, only to be ordered back into the water to do it all over again.
I call that "torture" but the soldiers call it "training". That's what makes the difference in how those soldiers handle their experience. If we view our suffering as torture then we see ourselves only as victims. But if we see our suffering as training, then we're preparing for a victory.
Today on this Palm Sunday we turn our eyes to the cross of Christ.
Jesus did not see the cross only as suffering. He saw beyond the cross to what his death and resurrection would accomplish: the forgiveness of our sins, breaking the hold of Satan on this world, calling together a people who would live in a new covenant with God and filled the power of the resurrection, his own glory and enthronement at the right hand of the Father.
Hebrews 12:2 tells us that Jesus went to the cross disregarding it shame. There was plenty of shame connected with the cross. Only the worst criminals and slaves were crucified. They were stripped of all their clothing and nailed in a public display of humiliation. Passersby shouted all kinds of insults at them.
Jesus knew the shame, but he disregarded it for the joy of what was to come beyond the cross. He did not see the cross as torture, but as training for the ...
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