10 November 2013

Pope Francis: 'When We Encounter the Cross, We Turn to Mary'

Though it is used in perhaps more materialistic marketing endeavors than any other symbol, the cross is far more than a piece of silver or gold hanging around a person's neck. It is more than a sign splattered across the back of a t-shirt. It is even more than a piece of wood hanging in a church sanctuary.

photo credit: shaggy359 via photopin cc
The cross, in spite of the world's overuse and abuse of it and its symbolism, lies at the very heart of Christianity, for it was upon a blood-spattered cross that the sinless One, the perfect Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ, died for sinners. It is where the wrath of God for the sins of men was satisfied. It is where one man, the God-man, who had lived a life of perfect obedience to God, gave His life so that many may live.

The cross brings us to our knees in a humbling awareness of our unworthiness. The cross lifts our tear-stained faces to the sky as we gaze upon the One who suffered and died in our place. The cross causes great songs of praise and thanksgiving to come forth from unclean lips, lips that have been purged and cleansed by the blood that drips from that same cross. Oh, the cross. The wonderful, glorious, precious cross.

Though He no longer hangs on that cross, when we approach this massive tool of execution we are brought before the Lord Jesus Christ. He was a willing and obedient substitute for unworthy sinners. How can we not thank Him for His sacrifice? Consider our Lord's words in the garden of Gethsemane the night before His murder:
Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. Then He said to them, "My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me."
And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will." And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, "So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."
He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, "My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done." Again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. And He left them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. 
(Matthew 26:36–44, NASB) 
"Not as I will, but as You will." "Your will be done." The cross was the ultimate act of the Son's obedience to the Father. And what love He demonstrated on that day and on that cross! Love for His Father and love for fallen, wicked, vile and hostile men.
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10, NASB)
For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. (Romans 5:6–10, NASB) 
And as our Lord hung on the cross, what did He do? Did He curse and revile those who mocked Him? Did He pray that the Father might send down great bolts of lightening, or open the ground beneath them to swallow them alive? No. On that cross, Jesus Christ prayed for those who had put Him there (Luke 23:34).
and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. (1 Peter 2:23–24, NASB)
As we look to the cross, then, and as we approach that bloodied tree upon which our sinless Savior died, we cannot help but gaze upon the Lord Jesus Christ. The sinner who is drawn by the Spirit to the foot of the cross will find himself transfixed upon Christ, unable to turn away. When we encounter the cross, we encounter the Savior who died "so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness." We encounter the One who gave Himself so that we might "be saved from the wrath of God through Him." And when we approach the cross, we realize with joy and thanksgiving that Jesus Christ no longer hangs upon it. Nor does His body remain in the tomb. He is risen. Oh yes, He is risen, just as He said (Matt 28:6).

He who comes to the cross comes to Christ and to Christ alone. He does not come to Mary or to the disciples or to the ancient saints of the Church. The man who is drawn by the Spirit of God is born again from above when he is brought to repentance and faith in Christ by the power of that Spirit (John 3:3). Salvation is a gracious and merciful work of God (Eph 2:8–9). To turn to any other human, living or dead, to help achieve salvation or to obtain favor before God is not only idolatrous and blasphemous, it is useless and futile.

Perhaps that is what is so grievous about the following tweet sent out on 11 October 2013 by the popular Pope Francis:
Pope Francis has utterly missed the point of the cross. His erroneous and dangerous advice does not surprise, however, for the Roman Catholic Church long ago anathematized the true and saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. Yet the pope's words cause the true Christian to grieve nonetheless. How many continue to be deceived by Rome's damning false gospel? How many have spent hours futilely praying to Mary, not understanding that she cannot answer their prayers? How many do not understand that Mary would not answer their prayers even if she could? For even Mary was aware of her own sinfulness and need for a Savior (Luke 1:47), and that Savior would be the child she herself would bear (Luke 1:30–33; cf. Matt 1:20–21).

When approaching or "encountering" the cross, why would anyone desire to then turn back and seek out a mere man (or woman)? Who would ignore the Savior who was on that cross? Who would disregard the Lamb who was slain?

Come to the cross, yes, but do not turn away in search of Mary or men. Come to the cross and meet Christ. Meet the One who died that men may live. Repent of your sins and trust in the perfect work of Christ for your salvation. Turn to Christ at the cross or do not come at all.

Further Reading
Salvation Is a Work of God
Pope Francis Does Not Know God
Rejecting the Papacy
To Those Who Would Undermine the Headship of Christ: Fall on Your Faces


  1. I was listening to John MacArthur's sermon "Beware of False Prophets" parts 1 & 2 yesterday. In part 1, Dr MacArthur was speaking of the broad way and the narrow way, and how false teachers operate. "as you stand at that crossroads are false prophets doing everything they can in their power to push you the wrong way. They're there, obscuring the narrow gate and waving people on like some spiritual traffic cop to the broad road that leads to damnation."

    So the Pope's comment fits this perfectly. As people gaze at the cross, the false teacher in the form of Jorge Mario Bergoglio AKA Pope Francis, says 'no, no, don't look at Jesus, look at Mary'.

    They really do all they can to obscure the entry through the gate, don't they.

    It's not easy to get in the narrow gate, the verse says many won't find it.(Mt 7:13). How tragic that there are so many false teachers these days pushing people off the Way. They are as rainless clouds and smoke from a hellish fire, obscuring the narrow entry. The word of God is the only hope of clarity and the only clear lens to see the way.

    Your opening portion of the essay was beautifully written and spiritually full. Thank you for that.

    1. Great thoughts, Elizabeth. Thank you for sharing!

    2. Hi Elizabeth. I have only just been visiting your End Time Blog in the last 3 or more days re: Beth Moore bad teachings. I will have to find out how to turn my profile so that it stops saying 'anonymous' instead of my name which is Colette. Thank you for being a strong and brave follower of Christ with your blogs and also to the person of this blog 'Do Not Be Surprised' of which I came to know today due to your blog Elizabeth. What a tall drink of water all of you are. I feel I am surrounded by false teachings and teachers so coming across these amazing, well documented, well researched blogs complete with Scripture to back up what you state is indeed a blessing. Keep sounding the alarm because there are still many who need to hear!

  2. Weeping for joy at the office; hoping someone asks why?

  3. You'd think he'd at least *pretend* to be a Christian. But perhaps that is, after all, asking too much.

  4. Erin,
    Well said! Though I have never replied, I am very blessed by reading I your articles each day!


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