The cross

I have always preferred the resurrection of Christ to his death on the cross.

I love the hymn that begins:

Up from the grave, he arose
With a mighty triumph o’er his foes.

But I recognize that the resurrection would mean nothing if the cross had not come first.  If Christ had not died to pay for my sins, I could not enjoy life with him forever.

But what am I to make of the cross?  I feel a need to explore this further.

One of the big things about the cross is that it shows how much I am loved by God.  We are all familiar with Jesus’ words in John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

Another thing that stands out in my mind is how much he must have suffered when the Father turned his face away from him on the cross.  It is hard to over-estimate the tragedy this was for Jesus.  No one has ever experienced a love that compares with the love the Father has for the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Their love for each other is untarnished by sin and selfishness.

But, Jesus obediently went to the cross, knowing that he would suffer rejection at the moment that my sin was heaped on his shoulders.

Personally, I feel that this emotional and spiritual suffering was far greater than the physical pain he bore.

As a human being, I have a small understanding how hurtful rejection is.  But it is nothing compared to what Jesus faced.

Along with Christ’s love and the suffering he went through for me, I also see that the cross speaks about the importance of sacrifice in my own life.  That’s probably the reason I am not as enthusiastic about Easter Friday as I am about Easter Sunday.

Christ’s whole life was about self-giving.  It was one reason people loved him.  They knew he cared for them in a practical way.  He was an honored Rabbi but he spent much of his time healing the people he met and stepping in to help them with such mundane things as food.  He was always interested in them.

And he faced constant abuse and threats to his life.  He was at everyone’s beck and call throughout the day – he had little time to himself.

A lesser man would have said: “This isn’t worth it.”

When I look at myself, I see someone who plans his life to satisfy his own needs and desires.  I tend to resent any interruption to my plans.

But I am learning.  I see examples all around me – including, as I have said before, my own family.

And I know that God has not given up on me.  As the apostle Paul said in Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

In other words, God is working on me.  His goal is to make me more like Christ.

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