Cultural Criminals // Matthew 16:24
Today’s verse is one that troubled me some when I was younger. What worried me was how Jesus spoke about crucifixion before He went to the cross Himself. Deeper studies of the Scriptures revealed to me that Jesus knew what was in His future. Something that makes this even more profound is that reality did not deter Him from His mission. We must hold this in mind with what we explored yesterday regarding following in the Lord’s footsteps since Jesus indicated it would involve a cross. Why a cross? Because it was the worst, most violent and gruesome form of execution devised by man. Crucifixions were also public spectacles in order to warn people as to what could happen if they strayed from the norm. Jesus was essentially painting a graphic word picture indicating the consequences for living a godly life; in other words, Jesus was teaching that following Him would make us cultural criminals.
We see this in today’s day and age. We see what happens when people don’t toe the cultural line. This is such a precarious position considering how definitions to common words change; certain parts of our history get deemed toxic; and long held traditions attempt to get “cancelled”. Life feels like a football game that is being fought in the trenches all while the opposing team changes the rules and moves the goalposts to suit them. It feels like a political problem, but friend’s it’s spiritual. This makes me think of what God told the Prophet Isaiah as recorded in Isaiah 55:8, “‘My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the Lord. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.'”
Let’s commit to going God’s ways and asking for Him to help us think His thoughts. Yes, this will put us at odds with the world essentially making us cultural criminals for going God’s way. But, if you want to be more like Jesus, there is no better way to go; after all, it is the road that leads to Heaven. Jesus said these words in Matthew 7:13-14, “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” Finding that narrow way means following Christ and committing to His way as opposed to the cause célèbres for the day.