Kingdom Violence: Embracing the Cross for Spiritual Victory

faith habits jesus mindset personal development


Without the cross, there is no Christianity. Period.

 The cross is central to Christianity. Heck, cross jewelry, cross accessories, even cross tattoos are extremely popular in our culture.

But simultaneously, there's also an absence of preaching and teaching about the cross.

Why does no one want to preach the cross? 

If we're honest, there's something within us that resists it.

Jesus said something I want you to ponder, that's so powerful it was recorded four times in three Gospels.

Unfortunately, in modern day Christianity, whenever you talk about the cross and the application of the cross, there is often a repulsion in the hearts of men to anything that has to do with sacrifice, with crucifying something, and with laying something down.

In Matthew 11:12 Jesus makes a powerful statement:

The Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.

We know that Jesus is not speaking of physical violence. When he stands before Pilate, he states, my kingdom is not of this world. So this is not a physical or natural kingdom. It’s not natural or physical violence that the Lord is speaking of.


What is the kingdom violence that Jesus is declaring? 

You have a spiritual enemy, and he's very real. He roams around like a lion, and he's seeking to destroy you. It's very easy to take this statement and apply it to our spiritual enemy.

Now, if he can't do that, he'll distract, he'll deceive, and he'll seek to discourage you. 

But there is another enemy: your flesh.

When you get saved, all of your impulses, natural desires, and all of those negative things you have, that you've had your whole impulses do not vanish instantly; there’s a progression and there's a walking out, there's an application and there is an invitation to walk the road of a disciple. It's on that road where you'll start to lay down those passions, those lusts, those desires, and those cravings.

There's a war within that you must win. This is the place where you must exercise kingdom violence. 


Jesus' Ministry From a Macro Perspective

We know he's in ministry for three years, and in year one and year two, he's really popular. Everyone's pressing in all the time trying to see Jesus. I'm not saying that doesn't happen in his third year, but there is a shift that happens in the last year of his ministry when he's getting closer to fulfilling his mission.

He was born to die; the Word of God states before the foundation of the world, the lamb was slain. So we are never to look at his death on the cross as a tragedy. It was a complete and decisive victory. This was the purpose that Jesus Christ was manifest in the flesh so he could destroy the works of the devil. And he does that.

Through his work on the cross, he says something in his final year of ministry that's recorded in three gospels and it's actually recorded four times.

You need to pay attention when you see something that repeatedly pops up in every single Gospel account. It means the writers and the Holy Spirit wanted you to get this message so strongly that there's a repetitiveness behind it.


Find Your Life and You'll Lose it

This is really powerful guys. Matthew 10, 16, Mark 8 and Luke 9 all record this statement that Jesus is giving at the end or towards the end of his ministry in that last year.

The cross wasn't just for Jesus: every follower is invited to deny himself, pick up his cross and follow him. If you got an invitation from Jesus in the first century to follow him, you were getting an invitation to deny yourself and to pick up your cross.

We are called to live the crucified life. Jesus is telling his followers that if they lose their lives and they take up their cross, they will find their lives. When Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane, it was one of the most brutal and agonizing nights of his life before he goes to the cross. He knows what lies ahead of him, and if there's any time in his ministry and in his life that he needs some support and his friends around him, it's this moment. 

So they go into the garden, which was most likely a place where they met on a regular basis, and Jesus instructs his disciples -- his friends that have been doing life with him for over three years -- and he says,

“watch and pray, lest you fall into temptation.”

And they can't do it. They can't watch and pray with Jesus in the moment of his need; in the moment where he's looking for some support, where he goes deeper into the garden, where he takes the three with him.

“Hey guys, I need you. Stay awake, stay alert, watch and pray. Don't fall into temptation!” 

And what happens?

They fall asleep. That was temptation for them; they were tempted to sleep. And what happens next? The Roman guard and their warriors dressed in full battle attire enter the garden with their swords and their shields, ready for a violent opposition. 

The disciples disperse. They all ran away. Their survival instinct kick in and they were all seeking self-preservation in that moment. Not even a look back at Jesus. They just get up and run. 


Here's the Lesson

As he starts to get closer to his cross, the crowds get thinner, and the disciples thin out. They start separating themselves. 

So I wanna take you now to the next scene, which is the courtyard. And Jesus is now arrested. He's standing before the Sanhedrin, and it says in the Bible that John was in the courtyard.

And here's what the Bible says about Peter. It says, but Peter was following at a distance. Peter was at a further distance in the courtyard than John was. He was standing back the farthest he was there, but he had a distance from the Lord. And here's the principle. As you come closer to the cross of Jesus, as you come closer in proximity, you will be tested.

The cross will always test you to see what your distance is from Christ. So where are you today? What is your distance from the Lord? Are you in proximity to the cross? Are you executing kingdom violence in your life? And what does picking up your cross and losing your life look like? So guys, here's just a couple things.

This list is long. I'm gonna give you a couple starters and then I want you to fill in the blank. You can pick up your cross and you can lose your life in sacrifice and giving. Right now I want you to ask the Lord, where do you need to lose? Your life, your flesh, that thing in you that kicks back against this principle of the cross, that there's something in you that needs to be surrendered.

There's something in you that needs to be yielded. And let me say it the strongest, I can say it. There's something in you that needs to be crucified. So how can you lose your life? And this is how you assess your distance from the Lord right now. How close or how. What's your distance to the cross in your life, guys?

First Corinthians 1:24 says, Christ crucified is both the power and the wisdom of God. 

Will you pick up your cross today and follow him? 

(I'd put your video here?)

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