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Near the Cross

04 Pic 2//Kenneth W. Hagin

In our modern world, the cross has become little more than an object or a piece of jewelry. But the scene on Golgotha's hill where Jesus Christ was crucified was bloody and gruesome. Once we understand that, it might be hard for us to grasp why anyone would want to witness Jesus' agonizing death. Isaiah 52:14 says His face was so marred He wasn't recognizable. He was so beaten, He hardly looked human.

But Scripture tells us there were a handful of people gathered to witness Jesus' death. They were Mary, Jesus' mother; Jesus' mother's sister; Mary, the wife of Clopas; Mary Magdalene; and John, the disciple Jesus loved (John 19:25–27).

 

What impact did Jesus make on the lives of these faithful few that they were willing to follow Him to the cross? What compelled them to stand there and witness the bloodshed? Why didn't they run and hide like the rest of Jesus' followers?

A Place of Reward

Mary, Jesus' mother, had suffered much to get to the cross. There was the obvious pain of childbirth, but also the shame and gossip that came with being an unwed mother. Then she must have endured terrible agony as she watched Jesus being beaten, rejected, and placed on the cross. I'm sure she was broken beyond measure as she watched the blood flow from her son's veins.

But Mary stayed near the cross. She stayed faithful, because she understood Who Jesus was. He was the Son of God—the Lamb Who would take away the sin of the world.

As she stood there, something amazing happened. Looking down from that cross, Jesus said to her, " 'Dear woman, here is your son [talking about John]' " (John 19:26 NLT).

In the moment of her greatest agony, Jesus rewarded her. He gave her a son who would love her and take care of her. And Scripture tells us that from that time on, John took her into his home. Mary's faithfulness reaped a reward—at the cross.

A Place of Restoration

What about John, then? Why did he follow Jesus to the cross? He had fled from the Garden of Gethsemane with the other disciples. He was nowhere to be found at Jesus' trial or beating. But he came back.

The cross probably wasn't the safest place for John to be as one of Jesus' followers. But he wasn't going to run or hide any longer. Scripture doesn't tell us exactly what happened with him, but somewhere along the line, he must have woken up to the truth that Jesus would forgive him. Yes, he'd run and forsaken his Lord, but Jesus would restore him.

It took courage for John to come back, because he knew he'd messed up. But he came anyway, and he found restoration. I think that's why he could later write with conviction, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9 NKJV). John had experienced forgiveness himself—near the cross.

A Place of Redemption

Mary Magdalene also followed Jesus all the way to the cross. Why? I think we're given a little insight in the Book of Luke.

LUKE 8:1–2 (NLT)
1 Soon afterward Jesus began a tour of the nearby towns and villages, preaching and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom of God. He took his twelve disciples with him,
2 along with some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases. Among them were Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons.

This passage tells us that Jesus traveled around proclaiming and teaching the Word of God. He took His 12 disciples and some women who had been cured of diseases and evil spirits. We're not told more about any of these women except Mary Magdalene. Verse two says she had seven demons!

Can you imagine the turmoil and agony Mary Magdalene experienced, and the sin she was into? But when Jesus miraculously delivered her, everything changed. She surrendered her life and gave up what she had to follow Jesus and help His ministry.

Why would she do this for Jesus, and why would she follow Him all the way to the cross? Why would she watch Him bleed and die? It's because Mary Magdalene understood the power of redemption.

She had been delivered from turmoil. She had been forgiven and set free from demonic bondage. Her life had gone from terrible darkness to amazing light—from misery to the wonder of knowing Jesus.

When she stood looking up at that cross—watching her Savior and Redeemer Who had been spat upon, laughed at, and pierced with thorns and nails—she understood the cost of her deliverance. She witnessed the price that was paid to buy her back from the grip of Satan. To Mary Magdalene, that cross was the price of redemption.

Draw Near

That cross is also the place of our redemption. It's our place of reward and restoration.

ISAIAH 53:3–6 (NKJV)
3 He [Jesus] is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
4 Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

Jesus paid the price so we could be delivered and healed. He was punished in our place.

You see, we've all fallen short. Without Jesus, we're all sinners in need of God. But it's at the cross that we find everything we need. It's at the cross where we, just like John, find restoration when we mess up. It's at the cross where we, like Jesus' mother, realize there are rewards for serving God. And it's at the cross where we, like Mary Magdalene, find salvation and redemption.

Will you follow Jesus to the cross? Will you be faithful even when things don't go the way you want—when you're persecuted and misunderstood? I encourage you . . . draw near. Draw near and find peace that passes all understanding and joy and strength that only the Lord can give.