by Chet Klinger
Luke records these prophetic words from Simeon to Mary in Chapter 2:34-35:
“Behold, this Christ is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and a sign which will be spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
Simeon’s prophecy foretells the opposition in the world the newborn Jesus will face, as many fall and rise because of His name and His presence in the world, particularly in Israel. It also tells of a prophecy to Mary that she will share in His suffering.
Dr. Bill Bouknight wrote the article, “The Worldwide Offense of the Cross” in The Confessing Movement’s July-Sept 2015 newsletter, We Confess. He tells about authorities in a southeast province of China giving Christian churches a two-month deadline to remove crosses from public display.
We often hear and read at this time of year of efforts from atheists, from advocates of political correctness and even from soft-hearted Christian folks that displaying nativity scenes in public, conducting Christmas pageants in schools, and wishing people, “Merry Christmas,” are offensive to non-Christians. They argue we should therefore put these signs and symbols away from the view of the public and children in school. Bouknight referred to Paul’s mentioning about the crucified Christ being a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles (1 Corinthians 1:23). He quoted a seminary professor who in 1993 declared, “We don’t need to hear about somebody hanging on a cross, and blood dripping, and all that stuff.” She received a standing ovation.
Bouknight offers some ideas why some modern Christians find messages about Christ and the cross offensive: first, it is too bloody for many peace-loving folks; second, atonement is a mystery too hard to explain; atonement is not the only path to salvation; some believers don’t believe in hell, therefore all who die will be welcomed anyway by God in heaven, making the atoning cross unnecessary. I imagine that the light of truth Jesus casts upon the world is like turning on the lights in the kitchen during the middle of night. The varmints and vermin, if there are any, scurry quickly for the darkness. Wickedness favors the darkness. Christmas lights around the world annoy those who favor the darkness. This is why John Wesley, according to Bouknight, warned “Preaching of Christ crucified will be foolishness to the wise men of the world.” Bouknight says all this pleases Satan, who thrives on distorting or disrupting the message of the atoning cross. Christians who believe in the truth should not be discouraged, advises Bouknight. The cross-centered message will not be popular or politically correct or culturally comfortable: “For 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 Corinthians 1:18). Bouknight says, “The cross will lose its offensiveness only when the Lamb of God returns in glory. Until then, the cross-centered gospel is the only message that can deliver forgiveness, new birth, salvation, and personal and social change. Therefore, LIFT HIGH THE CROSS!”
As for Christmas season, we can continue to lift high our Christmas lights and nativity scenes, and say, “Merry Christmas,” when the opportunity presents itself. Please pray that we will be able to maintain our freedom of religion and that it will not be restricted by governments, employers or social organizations. May Jesus return soon!