Savior. Teacher.

The crucifixion of Jesus Christ was seemingly the final goodbye for sympathetic onlookers, early in the first century. Splintered, wooden beams served as the cross, the primary tool of the Roman Empire to inflict shame, humiliation, hatred, rejection, pain and a slow death on criminals that it deemed worthy of this end-of-life punishment. With tearful goodbyes the tiny remnant of gathered believers cried out to their Master and Messiah, hanging upon his cross and breathing His last breath upon the hill of Calvary. By all appearances the dying Jesus was the end of their hope. Little did they know what was to come.

The great disconnect

After roughly three years of public ministry along with a close inner circle of disciples (twelve were called His apostles), Jesus was crucified. Many people today know that Jesus was a true historical figure and that He willingly suffered and died on that torture device – the cross. While the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ are the pinnacle events of the Christian faith, it seems like many believers have not personally identified with the mystery that Christ’s death on the cross was the only way to His resurrection life. The cross is the point of disconnect for so many believers. The notion of following Jesus is resisted or neglected even though the cross is the only way for believers to experience the miraculous transformation of a resurrection life.

From my experience growing up in church, I was aware of this expression “taking up your cross” as a young believer. But the story just wasn’t complete. So I didn’t understand, nor did I have any interest in becoming a follower of Jesus after what He went through on the cross. In my early years when role models were so important, I never really got to know this Jesus who could’ve been the most life-changing teacher of my young life.

So along I went for many years on my own, at a distance from my Savior, thinking I had to just act like a Christian externally, to do good things and be nice and not sin! I was saved but confused and misinformed. It was a kind of a pointless religious life to me for so long. Of course, it didn’t change me. Not only did I never really understand the surprisingly incredible truth about what it means to really trust, admire and follow Jesus, but more importantly what it would lead to once I accepted the invitation to take those steps to get to know Him as Teacher. My church at the time, and people I looked up to in my faith, never went any deeper into this mystery of the cross. I never was given the key to unlock that mystery that could’ve ultimately changed the trajectory of my life in the best possible way.

The prolonged suffering and death of Jesus in the hands of a cruel authority was not a final goodbye that it seemed to his grieving followers who were blinded by the fear of His death. They had no idea what was in store.

Little did they know at the time, although it was a deeply painful goodbye it would also mean something unimaginably wonderful and victorious. After all, as we know now, if there had been no grievous dying, there could be no resurrection! If the story ended with Christ’s death, there would be no church, no hope, and no eternal life. It is but one side of a two-sided coin. Every step that Christ stumbled up the hill of Calvary to His death was at the same time a step closer to Life!

Did you catch the significance of that last sentence? “Every step that Christ stumbled up the hill of Calvary to His death was at the same time a step closer to life!” In the space of just three days, Jesus Christ demonstrated in the flesh that in Him, death is life.

The great paradox

The mystery of goodbye is this: Death (goodbye) holds the key to the ultimate life (hello) that has always been available to those of us who believe in and receive Jesus Christ. When we respond to His call to trust and follow, we identify with His death in a different way (our goodbye) so that we will, by the power of His Spirit and our faith, really live out that life (our hello) for which we long, and for which we were created.

This is the life of a follower, disciple, student of Jesus. It starts with responding to Him, coming to Him, and trusting in what He promises. It starts with a simple relationship between a student and a Special Someone, a Role Model, a Teacher that models the transformed, goodbye-to-hello life.

Unlocking the mystery

We trust that the following articles will help you too, to unlock the mystery of goodbye, to experience and live the goodbye-to-hello life! The first set of articles address essential aspects of becoming a student of Jesus. They together will lay the groundwork upon which to build a foundation for your life and relationship with God. The second set of articles, “Traits of a Christ Follower,” will paint a picture for you to help you visualize what a growing intimacy with Jesus will look like in you. We trust you’ll see these traits in their beginning stages, developing in your own life, upon that forever firm foundation.

To proceed simply click on one of the links of the bottom of the page. The link to the right will always be the one to go to the next article.

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