‘Everything we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see’ – Martin Luther King Jr
Just as for Jerusalem, everyone wants a piece of the cross, laying a claim to it. So far as the cross goes, here are some of the claims to consider:
- The Jewish Authorities – without them (the High Priest, the Teachers of the Law, the Pharisees), who would have taken such offence to a person loved by the people as he healed them and taught them? Yet they needed to get someone else to kill him as a ‘cursed convict’ on a cross, so the Roman Empire was convenient.
- The Roman Government - it was their well –trained efficient soldiers who carried out the execution, using wood, hammer and nails from trusted local suppliers. Pontius Pilate even decided to stick a label on it.
- Simon of Cyrene – he carried it didn’t he?
- Judas Iscariot – well, wasn’t it all his fault?
- Christian Denominations and theologians of every kind – each one has a ‘take’ on how the cross ‘works’, what you must or must not believe
- The world, media and populist interpreters – it is after all our world, ours to interpret, to inform on and to advise the slant which should be taken at different times and with enlightened understanding, so why should the cross be any different? It’s public property after all.
All these claims are as mad as imagining an oak tree without an acorn, a chicken without an egg or a shadow without light! The subject of the cross is The Subject of The Cross – Jesus Christ himself. Inspiration of art, music and of billions of people, this most famous death of history has made history because it was no mere criminal being executed:
‘No mere man; no third party, not angel, but God himself was present in a unique way in the person and sufferings of Jesus on Calvary. That is what makes the cross so special: the identity of the sufferer. There never has been and never will be a parallel to that’ – Michael Green
All of the Old Testament pointed forward to the fulfilment of God’s plan to rescue the fallen human race. Jesus spent three years preparing the disciples for the cross but they didn’t understand it until the resurrection and even then it took a while for the penny to drop that he had risen from the dead. Thankfully the risen Jesus gave them time to grasp what had happened, that he had conquered sin that separates us from God and he had conquered death itself – it was on the cross that the collective ‘NO’ of mankind to God was overcome by the unconditional ‘YES’ of Jesus to God. The power of love triumphed over the love of power as mercy and justice met in the willing sacrifice of Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. It takes time and the work of the Holy Spirit to see the need for the cross of Jesus for personal salvation and to realise that, for a true disciple of Christ, the answer to the question ‘whose CROSS’ must include the realisation that it is somehow ‘my cross’ too.
‘We are redeemed from something and for something. The story of the cross is not complete without talk of the way of the cross’ – Martin Robinson
‘Then Jesus said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me”’ – Luke 9:23 This is a daily decision – with God’s help, the way of the cross becomes our way and we become more like Jesus himself. As we identify with Jesus’ cosmic purpose to save us through his blood shed on the cross, so we are identified as children of God, free from the guilt and punishment of sin – this is how the new life begins. The way of the cross leads through the valley of death, our death, to resurrection, our resurrection. So the cross of Jesus becomes my cross as his resurrection becomes my resurrection. These are secret truths that are read quickly but understood slowly.
‘Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day,
Fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town,
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way’ - Pink Floyd
If you have found the way of the cross, here’s a hymn to celebrate:
Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven;
To His feet thy tribute bring.
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Who like thee His praise should sing
Praise Him! Praise Him!
If you are still looking, ask Jesus to help you answer the question ‘whose CROSS’? It’s yours because his – now that is true victory.
TAGS - cross, crucified, Jesus, salvation, sin, way, forgiven