The Words of the McCarthy Family

The Cross or the Crown?

Kevin McCarthy
January 19, 2009

The Cross or the Crown?
by Rev Kevin McCarthy

The cross of Jesus stands as one of the most ostensibly paradoxical symbols. Tragedy and triumph, misery and joy, humiliation and exaltation are all encountered at Calvary’s cross.

When Jesus was lifted up, the compelling reason to become a believer in Christ was established. Whereas the dynamics of salvation were set in motion from the day he rose and sealed on the day of Pentecost, the most compelling reason to come to Christ was established on the day he was nailed to the cross: Jesus died for me.

“God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son...” Through the cross, God declares the true value He finds in each person. God offered his beloved Son as a ransom for all. This is a core teaching of the Divine Principle.

While Satan uses his power to kill, God uses His power to bring the dead to life. As compensation for Satan's exercise of his maximum power in killing Jesus, God exercised His maximum power and resurrected Jesus. God thus opened the way for all humanity to be engrafted with the resurrected Jesus and thereby receive salvation and rebirth.
Exposition of the Divine Principle
Moses and Jesus The Spiritual Foundation of Faith
Page 279

After he was crucified, Jesus appeared to two of his followers on the road to Emmaus. He inquired as to the reason for their apparent sadness and dismay. They answered that they had “hoped” that he was the one who was going to “redeem Israel,” indicating that the experience of the cross, for them, was the demise of those hopes they had placed in Jesus.

Jesus scolded them and asserted plainly, “ought Christ not to suffer these things in order to enter into his glory?...and then beginning with Moses and all the prophets he showed them the things concerning himself.”
Luke 24:13-27

It is reasonable to conclude, as have many generations of Bible scholars, that Jesus’ only purpose was accomplished at the cross. It is reasonable, but it is not the complete picture of Jesus’ purpose from the perspective of the Principle.

Christ’s reluctance toward that thorny path is clearly observed in his tearful prayer in Gethsemane. “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42)

What could be the cause of that reluctance and sorrow? In our view, Jesus was not expressing mere trepidation toward the pain and suffering of the approaching cross. He was, instead, expressing sorrow in having to close the door on a greater good intended by God: the plan to establish the new heaven and new earth in the Jerusalem of Jesus’ day.

The prophet Isaiah had declared that Jerusalem would be the central locale of that great transition (Isaiah 65:17). However, there was one caveat. God had also proclaimed through the prophet Jeremiah that “if at any time I declare that a kingdom is to be built up or a nation established but those people do evil in my sight, I will not carry out the plan that I had intended.” (Jeremiah 18:7-10).

Thus when Jesus began his mission by declaring, unequivocally, that “now is the time...the Kingdom is at hand,” he was, in fact, speaking to a purpose that God intended to accomplish at that time.

That is why, upon the faithless response of the people, Jesus was so deeply heart broken. “When he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it, and said, ‘if you, even you, had only known what on this day would bring you peace.’” (Luke 19:41) He knew the “intended” destiny of Jerusalem was that a “new heaven and new earth” would be established there with Jesus, the new Adam, as its central figure and King.

The beating of “swords into plowshares, spears into pruning hooks” would have commenced at that time during Jesus’ earthly life. The hopes of Zechariah 8:20-23, that “10 men from all languages and nations shall grab the robe of one Jew and say ‘take us to Jerusalem for we heard that God is with you.’” would have, likewise, been a reality in Jesus’ day.

When after nearly two years of imploring the people “to believe in him who he has sent,” the resistance of the people toward God’s call for faith and repentance became, in substance, the “evil in my sight” that resulted in a providential turn away from “the plan that I had intended.” In this moment, Jesus turned from the Kingdom toward the way of the cross. It was then that he announced, for the first time, a new path toward Jerusalem, not to receive a crown, but to, instead, “suffer many things.” (Matthew 16:21).

That this was a new and sudden turn of events is made clear by the stunned response of Jesus’ apostles in Luke 18:34, “they did not know what he was talking about.”

Jesus wanted to establish, at that time, a world were the knowledge of the Lord would “cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.” This is why he sorrowed so deeply in his final prayer in Gethsemane. God would bear the cross of the Kingdom postponed.

Earlier in his ministry, in a synagogue in Nazareth, Jesus was handed the scroll of Isaiah and was asked to read. Luke tells us that, “Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.’” It seems to be very noteworthy that Jesus passes by chapter 53 with its imagery of the cross and its promises of “rejection, sorrows and suffering,” stopping instead at Chapter 61 with its “crown of beauty” and its imagery of a Christ received. In doing so, Christ Jesus displayed his own heart’s desire to go beyond the cross toward the crown. It was God’s intention to lay that very crown upon him while he was on the earth and to bring about a world of peace as a unified human family under God. 

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