The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Friday, March 25, 2016


“Woman, behold your son! . . . Behold your mother!” – John 19:26 and 27

Cross-fit is a relatively new way of exercising that relies on the idea of muscle confusion. In other words rather than use the same exercises over and over again a wide assortment of various exercises are used to keep both the exerciser and their muscles interested. But there is another cross-fit exercise I want to discuss with you. “Bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come” (1 Timothy 4:8). There is a cross fitness that touches on the here and now but that goes further and transcends mere physical fitness. Cross fitness of your physical body does profit “a little.” But I want to talk to you about a cross fitness that will yield eternal benefits. I want to talk to you about the benefit of the cross of Christ to you, your relationships, family, and the life of those precious family members you already have and that you love so much.


Healthy relationships and families are formed at the foot of the cross of Christ. In John’s gospel we are given a wonderful insight into the creative power of the cross of Christ. Here it recounts:

“Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” 27 Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.” (John 19:25-27).  This is a beautiful and powerful picture of how families are formed at the foot of the cross.


It was in the shadow of the cross that John’s family and the family of Jesus in His mother were joined and formed. Jesus had four brothers and more sisters (Matthew 13:55-56) yet He chose to entrust His mother to the care of John the apostle. Jesus was more concerned about eternal relationships than temporal ones (Matthew 3:33-35; Luke 8:21; cf. also fulfilled prophecy of Psalm 69:8). When we come to the cross of Christ we are adopted into God’s family and are eternally united (Romans 8:14; 1 Peter 4:17). Are you a part of the family of God? Do you treat your fellow Christians as family?


In our day the family is more broken and fragmented than ever. The world is redefining family and they’re making a real mess of things. The world has left God’s scripture revealed definitions of marriage between one man and one woman in order to permit and even encourage that which God calls sinful. Marriage is not seen as a life commitment made by two people to each other in the presence of God consummated by intercourse. Marriage is seen as mere formality to affirm worship of the god of sex. Sex before marriage, what God calls the sin of fornication, is a regular practice, even among Christians! People “fall in love” and “fall out of love” with abandon. This leads to the proliferation of adultery. The world is at a loss. They’ve tried open marriages. They try “living together.” The current trend is a mighty push for the legalization of same-sex marriage. The moral gates are bulging and near breaking under the rising flood waters of polygamy, pedophilia, pederasty, the removal of age of consent and statutory rape laws, human-animal unions, transient marriage where people switch male/female roles on a whim, and a host of other such sinfully creative ways (cf. Romans 1:24-32).  The cross-less world needs some cross-fitness training.


The sin of our first parents threw a monkey wrench into the relational mechanism. Groping in the darkness people look in the mirror and can’t even see who they are. The real problem is in the human heart. And you can’t fix a heart attack with a change in clothes or a change in genitalia.  People without God don’t know who they are and seeking solutions in science only complicates the problem.


Tempting ungodly and unscriptural attractions are often rooted deeply in the psyche and life story of those who battle them. The solution is not to embrace such temptations. That is the way of the world. The world is at a loss to deal with such problems and so they simply incorporate them into their system. But no amount of worldly proclamation that something is right can change what God declares is wrong. God made us and knows what is best for us.


God offers us a promise. He says, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). You are not the only one with sexual temptations. You are not the only one who has messed up a relationship or relationships. Your temptations are common to others and God is aware of them. He promises to be faithful to not allow you to be tempted beyond your capacity to resist. With the temptations He promises to provide you a way to escape and bear them. God will not allow you to be crushed. God promises to bring you through. He is reaching down and offering you a helping hand. Will you take hold of it? Will you let Him train you? Will you enter into and follow His cross fit plan?


The solution is found in Jesus Christ and in particular at the foot of the cross of Christ. The apostle Paul said, “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). The cross of Christ is the heart of a powerful gospel that is able to deliver us from the power of sin (Romans 1:16). So powerful is the cross of Christ that Paul made it his central focus. “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, but whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14). The cross is an instrument of demarcation between us and the world. The cross is our protection. The cross is what God puts between us and the world when we trust in Jesus as Savior. The cross is impregnable. The cross is the greatest most powerful weapon against the temptations we face.


By faith in Christ we receive forgiveness for our sinfulness. By faith we accept that Jesus on the cross paid all that was necessary to fulfill God’s just requirements to forgive our sin. And by faith we receive His righteousness put to our account (2 Corinthians 5:21; cf. also Romans 5). By faith we identify with Jesus. By faith we cast the “old man” of sin behind us and put on the “new man” of Christ-likeness (e.g. Ephesians 4:17-24). By faith we live by leaning on Jesus trusting in Him to help us and hold us and love us. By faith we hear and echo Paul’s inspired proclamation, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I love by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Jesus and His cross is the solution to our temptations, sins and confusion.


It is at the foot of the cross that families are reconciled to God and each other. Think of a family where the husband loves his wife like Jesus loved His bride the church. Think of a wife who lovingly sacrifices and submits to their husband. Think of Dads and Moms who love their children with Christlike love. Think of children growing in and being discipled in the love of Jesus. Oh what a family that could be! (cf. Ephesians 5 and 6). Have you brought your family; your spouse; your children; your parents to the foot of the cross?


When we are born again through faith in Christ we receive the regenerating indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9-11; Titus 3:4-7). And wonderfully the Holy Spirit is called “the Spirit of adoption; (Romans 8:15). That means that every person regenerated by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is adopted into God’s family. We become “sons of God” or daughters of God (Romans 8:14). And we are able to call on God as our Father. “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba [i.e. “Daddy”] Father” (Romans 8:15).


“The Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:16). What are the benefits and blessings of being a part of God’s family? “And if children, then heirs – heirs of God and join heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17). And though as a family member of God’s family we may be persecuted we will suffer “with Him.” And if we suffer with Him we will “also be glorified together” in the presence of God (Romans 8:17b). That should put everything in perspective. As Paul was inspired to write, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). Adoption into the family of God puts all things in proper perspective. Such a family goes beyond this world into eternity.

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