Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Shaken by the Cross?

“But as for us, we proclaim the crucified Christ, a message that is offensive to the Jews and nonsense to the Greeks.” (1 Cor. 1:23, Good News Translation)

This year, during Easter, how did the cross strike you? Was it like, “Oh, yeah – the cross, Easter, I’ve heard all this before. What a nice story…” When was the last time it really hit you hard, with all the ugliness and scandal, the blood and horror of a man being nailed to a tree and being hung out in the scorching Middle-eastern sun until he died?

Just before Easter, I (Tim) had the opportunity to help with an English camp for children from several schools in Phachi. I was asked to prepare the materials for two of the days, one focused on holidays, including Easter. I decided to edit and show a milder, cartoon version of the last week of Jesus’ life, thinking this version might be better for children than, say, the Jesus film. But when they showed (briefly) Jesus being scourged and then crucified, some of the kids cringed and shut their eyes. And it struck me how I need to be shaken by the cross again. Maybe not in the Mel Gibsonesce bloodlust manner, but seized by the cruelty and shame of that event that still reverberates 2000 years later. Some theologians have likened the cross to “divine child abuse” – a charge that neither appreciates the depth of our sin nor comprehends the Trinity. Yet we must not forget how horrible the cross is, and the love that Jesus demonstrated by enduring ultimate suffering in order that we might be redeemed. And having been shaken, we can then see the cross as “the power of God and the wisdom of God”. 

The cross is where love and truth meet, where righteousness and peace kiss.

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