Jesus Centred Part 2 – God looks like Jesus on the Cross – Love
In “Jesus Centred” Part 1 I showed how Jesus looks like God, always has and always will. We saw that the New Testament clearly and consistently shows that Jesus is the image of the invisible God. Today I want to take this one step further. Not only is Jesus the exact representation of the very being of God, Jesus on the cross is.
Jesus Centred Part 2 – God looks like Jesus on the cross.
The Apostle Paul said, “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2) For many Christians today, we don’t view Jesus and the cross in this way. When talking to our friends about Jesus, instead of talking about the cross, we often talk about the things Jesus did. I know this is a description of my evangelistic efforts. While I have loved and appreciated Jesus death, and shared it at the “right” time, most of my conversations around Jesus centred on His love, compassion, justice and miracles. So what did Paul mean?
I want to suggest that we have been so caught up on what God was achieving on the cross, we have missed what God was revealing at the cross.
Jesus on the cross is what God is like, always was like, and always will be like. Jesus on the cross is the ultimate expression of who God is and what He is like. Allow me to tease this out further.
The Apostle John teaches us that, “God is Love”. (1 John 4:8 and 16) We all agree with that, but John takes this a step further in both his first letter, and his gospel account. He teaches us what love looks like.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. 1 John 3:16
Love looks like laying down laying down your life for someone else. Jesus demonstrated what love looks like. It is others centred love. It is sacrificial love. It is all embracing, unconditional love. That description of love, is the description of what God is like, always has been like and always will be like!
We see this picture of God at play in Jesus life and teaching.
In Jesus life we see Him laying down His life and privilege in order to serve. We see this in His incarnation stories like His birth (being born in a manger), we see it as He grew up, (as a refugee), we see it in His lifestyle, (eating with sinners) we see it as He comes into Jerusalem, (on a donkey) and of course His death. (Forgive them Father, they don’t know what they are doing!)
Jesus laid down His reputation by eating with those He shouldn’t be associated with. He hugged the lepers, brought dignity to the prostitutes, and suffered the scorn of the religious people of the time.
But we also see this in Jesus teaching. In the sermon on the mount Jesus directly tells us how to deal with people who mistreat or persecute us. He says bless them, pray for them, turn the other cheek, and love them.
To put this simply, Jesus always loved. He lived a life of love and taught a life of love. It was not just at the cross. The cross is the ultimate picture of what God is always like, has always been like, and will always be like! Laid down love!
This is exceedingly good news! God is not a distant God, disinterested in you. God is not an angry God quick to judge and punish. God is not like the rich and famous who are so far exalted that they are inaccessible to us mere mortals. Instead, God is the God who steps into our humanity, bears our pain, thus meaning He understands us, then lays down His own life as an act of love in order to free us! He is non-violent! He is enemy loving! He is all embracing! And always has been!
Consequently, the invitation to follow Jesus, is the invitation to imitate the way of love.
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 1 John 3:16
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:12-13
“Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23
As followers of Jesus, our lifestyle can now reflect the love of God. Once we have encountered this mind blowing love, we are free to love others in the same way. The sermon on the Mount is “Following Jesus 101.” The cross is our example of the Jesus Centred life. If you want to follow Jesus it means laying down your life on behalf of others.
I started this post by talking about Paul’s commitment to knowing nothing, but Christ crucified. At first it seemed strange, but with this understanding we now see that Jesus on the cross is the perfect lens to describe who God is and what He is like.
God looks like Jesus on the cross, always has, and always will.
Extra: Thank you for reading this post! I hope it has both encouraged you and challenged your thinking. One question this talk always brings up is, “How do you explain the pictures of God from the Old Testament that don’t line up with this?” That is a great question and I will cover this in part 3.