Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Cross

This Sunday I am going to begin a 3 week series on the cross. Take it back to its original setting, and the cross is a scandal. It would be like taking on the symbol of a hangman's noose. That scandal was a stumbling block to Jews that prevented many of them from accepting Jesus as Messiah. It was equally as revolting to the Romans.

The cross has lost its scandal. It has become for us an almost sentimental symbol. We think of Jesus there -- and we cry. Or, in today's religious climate -- many talk around it. "Sacrifice? Blood? That seems barbaric. Let's just talk about the love of God." But you can't talk about the love of God without going to the cross.

We need to return to the crisis of the cross. The cross is not something we simply acknowledge. It is something we take up. We are to share in Jesus' suffering. it is a symbol of denial. It is a symbol of surrender. Yes, it is even a symbol of death.

It is scandalous! Yet the irony is: It is our only hope.


Jonathan said...

Yet so often, I find myself forgetting the POWER of the cross. Here some lyrics from one of my favorite songs.

Oh, to see the dawn
Of the darkest day:
Christ on the road to Calvary.
Tried by sinful men,
Torn and beaten, then
Nailed to a cross of wood.

This, the pow'r of the cross:
Christ became sin for us;
Took the blame, bore the wrath—
We stand forgiven at the cross.

Oh, to see the pain
Written on Your face,
Bearing the awesome weight of sin.
Ev'ry bitter thought,
Ev'ry evil deed
Crowning Your bloodstained brow.

Now the daylight flees;
Now the ground beneath
Quakes as its Maker bows His head.
Curtain torn in two,
Dead are raised to life;
"Finished!" the vict'ry cry.

Oh, to see my name
Written in the wounds,
For through Your suffering I am free.
Death is crushed to death;
Life is mine to live,
Won through Your selfless love.

This, the pow'r of the cross:
Son of God—slain for us.
What a love! What a cost!
We stand forgiven at the cross.

mchristophoros said...

I heartily agree. If there is value in Gibson's "Passion of the Christ", it is the plain portrayal of a place of execution.

I like to call it "the Great Injustice". Through which justice is done, wrongs righted, and as Lewis wrote, "death worked backwards". And through which God through his Son empathizes completely with everyone who has ever suffered, fairly or unfairly, pain, injustice, ever lost a child, lost a family member, or a friend.

Praise God.


Jeff said...

I'm looking forward to this series.

Beverly Ross said...

Great words, Jonathan! I can't wait to hear your thoughts over the next few weeks, Rick!!!!

Kyle R. said...

One Cross.

In our culture today, it is easy to forget that crosses weren't originally gold-plated and diamond-studded. Crosses didn't rest atop and beautifully adorn houses of worship. Nor were they cherished as religious relics guarding doorways of homes.

Real crosses were heavy, they had splinters, and they stained with blood.

On one cross, justice was served and mercy was extended. Justice and mercy--a paradoxical dilemma that only One God can satisfy at one time, through One Man, on one cross.

One hope.