THE SERVANT GENERAL
OUR THEME FOR 2010
THE GOSPEL OF THE CROSS
The authentic gospel is the gospel of the cross.
is the gospel that says suffering is a prelude and even pre-condition
to redemption. It points to the necessity of a Good Friday
before an Easter Sunday. The good news of salvation in Jesus
was achieved through his suffering and death on the cross.
Jesus “emptied himself, .... he humbled himself, becoming
obedient to death, even death on a cross.” (Phil 2:7-8).
And what is the result of Jesus’ sacrifice and suffering?
“Because of this, God greatly exalted him ....”
the Father sent His Son to the cross. In turn, the Son calls
on us, all children of the Father, to also live the way of
the cross. This is at the core of the call to discipleship.
“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Lk 9:23).
There are three essential aspects to discipleship: (1) self-denial;
(2) embracing the cross; and (3) following in the footsteps
Today, people, even many Christians, do not like to deny themselves.
They look to comfort, convenience and pleasure. Life in the
world is dominated by materialism, secularism and selfishness,
and even hedonism.
Christian preachers, in their desire to keep and enlarge their
flocks, have resorted to the so-called gospel of prosperity.
Accept the Lord Jesus and you will see your dreams fulfilled,
whether this is about wealth, miraculous healing, power and
position, thriving in a foreign land, or whatever. Of course
it is true that if we accept Jesus and live according to God’s
ways we will be blessed. But the blessings are not how we
define them. In fact, suffering will be part of God’s
blessings. The gospel of prosperity is a false gospel.
Taking up the cross
Now we are called not only to deny ourselves, but to embrace
do not like the cross, much less embrace it. The whole goal
for secular society is to evade the cross. People look to
avoiding pain. The cross is “foolishness to Gentiles”
(1 Cor 1:23b).
different it is for the apostles and the saints of old, and
to the very few saints in our day and age. The apostles took
up the cross as their Master did. The apostles were those
who were directly taught by Jesus, commissioned by him, and
knew him intimately. Though it was hard for them to accept
that the cross would be the instrument of salvation, and they
actually abandoned Jesus when he was arrested, and later Peter
and others went back to fishing, they ultimately lived the
true gospel. And they died embracing the cross.
did the apostles die?
was crucified upside down on an x-shaped cross, as he told
his executioners that he was unworthy to die in the same
way that Jesus had died.
was crucified on an x-shaped cross in Patras, Greece.
son of Zebedee, was beheaded at Jerusalem.
faced martyrdom when he was boiled in a huge basin of oil
during a wave of persecution in Rome, but was miraculously
delivered from death; he was later sentenced to the mines
on the prison island of Patmos.
(Nathaniel) was flayed to death by a whip due to his preaching
suffered martyrdom in Ethiopia, killed by the sword.
was stabbed with a spear in India during one of his missionary
trips to establish the church in the sub-continent.
was thrown over a hundred feet down from the pinnacle of
the temple, survived the fall, but was then beaten to death
with a club.
was killed with arrows when he refused to deny his faith
was stoned and then beheaded.
was tortured and then beheaded by Emperor Nero at Rome in
was dragged by horses through the streets in Alexandria,
Egypt, until he was dead.
was hanged in Greece as a result of his tremendous preaching
to the lost.
Throughout the history of the Church, many have been martyred
for their faith in Jesus. They took up their crosses, even
Benedict XVI, citing St Peter Damian, says, “One who
does not love the cross of Christ does not love Christ.”
Many Christians today will profess their love for Jesus. But
the genuineness of their love will really be put to the test
by his cross.
cross is precisely the manifestation of God’s love for
us (Jn 3:16). The cross is precisely the way to salvation.
“The message of the cross is foolishness to those who
are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power
of God.” (1 Cor 1:18). If we are to truly love Jesus,
and if we are to truly experience salvation, then we must
embrace the cross.
As we deny ourselves and take up our cross, we are called
to follow Jesus. This means we obey him and we model our lives
follow Jesus in many different ways.
grow in holiness and righteousness (1 Pet 1:15-16).
love one another (Jn 13:34-35).
serve others and in doing so take the lowest place (Jn 13:14-15).
proclaim the gospel of the kingdom through evangelization
and mission (Mk 16:15; Mt 28:19).
rejoice in the privilege of suffering for Christ (Heb 12:2).
humble ourselves before the mighty hand of God (Phil 2:5;
Mt 23:12; 1 Pet 5:5b-6).
trust completely in God, who is just and righteous.
we follow Jesus, he will lead us all the way to the cross,
The fruit of the cross
Job, though he was just and righteous, suffered severely.
His path, imposed on him but accepted by him, was one of affliction,
pain, suffering, rejection, ridicule, mockery, wretchedness,
mourning, grief, abandonment. Hey, that looks very familiar.
Yes, it is the very path Jesus took!
was Job not blessed? Indeed he was! And after his suffering
came restoration, or redemption. In fact, he was doubly blessed--materially,
emotionally, and certainly spiritually.
What for us will be the blessings that come with embracing
and living the cross of Christ?
Nothing purifies as being put in the fiery furnace of affliction.
We realize how we are nothing without God, and how our puny
lives are totally dependent upon His mercy and grace.
closer to God. It is only in our hopelessness and helplessness
that we truly turn to God, often because we have nowhere
else to turn. It is only in our affliction that we truly
learn the lessons God desires to teach us. In the cross
of Christ is wisdom for our lives.
to God’s will. Our human flesh is prone to living
according to our own ways, having our own preferences and
priorities. Often these lead to death. The cross removes
our pride and self-centeredness, and brings us to surrender
to and acceptance of God’s will.
in Jesus. The cross makes vivid for us what Jesus has done
for us, in winning for us our salvation. If he does that
out of love for us, even when we were sinners, then he is
one we can fully trust in. We can confidently place our
lives in his hands.
for greater things. God wants to use us as His instruments
for the life of the world. Once purified and placed in the
proper posture before Him, then God can and will use us
in the power of His Spirit, to proclaim His glory throughout
Such is the gospel of the cross. Such is the very way of God
in bringing us to salvation.
loved Job and so allowed his affliction. May we also be so
loved by God.
After being whipped severely by seven soldiers, they tied
his body to the cross with cords to prolong his agony. His
followers reported that, when he was led toward the cross,
he saluted it in these words: “I have long desired and
expected this happy hour. The cross has been consecrated by
the body of Christ hanging on it.” He continued to preach
to his tormentors for two days until he expired.
 The Roman officer who guarded James watched amazed as
James defended his faith at his trial. Later, the officer
walked beside James to the place of execution. Overcome by
conviction, he declared his new faith to the judge and knelt
beside James to accept beheading as a Christian.
 John was later freed and returned to serve as Bishop of
Edessa in modern Turkey. He died as an old man, the only apostle
do die peacefully.
 The leader of the church in Jerusalem.
 Matthias was the apostle chosen to replace the traitor
Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:26).
 Paul was called directly by the risen Jesus to be an apostle.
 Mark was not one of the twelve apostles, but is the John
Mark who accompanied Paul and Barnabas on a missionary journey
(Acts 12:25, 13:3), and was close to Peter (1 Pet 5:13).
 Luke was not one of the twelve apostles, but was the missionary
companion of Paul.
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Theme for 2010- Part 8[PDF]