We’ve all heard the old adage: Preach the gospel, … and if necessary, use words!
For my part, I’ve come to believe that the Crucifixion is one of the few places we really see that happen. The more I read the Gospel stories of Jesus all throughout that last day, the more I’m convinced Jesus preached His most eloquent sermon while hardly saying a word.
Everything He preached in the Sermon on the Mount, and everything He taught along the way, all of that He lived in those final moments on the Cross.
Turn the other cheek – and He turns to be struck yet again by a Roman soldier. Go the second mile – and He rises up with His Cross to stumble a few more steps. Pray for those who persecute you – “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Love your enemies. Bless those who curse you. And on and on it goes.
It’s no wonder that at the end at least one person comes to the altar to pray for forgiveness – “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” The only wonder is that more people didn’t see it, that they were not so moved.
And still today if we’ll let it, it’s a sermon that moves us. On the one hand, it moves us to constant conversion, to fall at the foot of the Cross and to pray with the penitent thief for God’s continual saving grace.
And on the other hand, it moves us to live out the gospel message more fully in our lives. The Sermon on the Mount apparently wasn’t pie in the sky, after all. Jesus really meant that stuff. It can be done. It can be lived. After all, Jesus did it – every step of the way to Calvary.
It’s a sermon that speaks volumes even this many centuries later. The question is, will we take up our cross and follow after Him?