Monday, July 07, 2014

The Cross

Most Christians can talk a good game about the cross of Christ. They will say that it is the reason for their confidence, the forgiveness of their sins, and the like. This is mostly to the good. Yet there is a reason why the whole matter is called by the Church "the paschal mystery." It is forgiveness, the confluence of the covenants, the joining of a people, the realization of long-awaited hope. It is much more than we are able to say.

Let me ask this question: Does God love you? Does God love us? I ask it because I remember when I used to see in the Cross only pardon, toleration, a bemused and distant acceptance, and only for a few of us, at that. It was impersonal, and no matter what we'd say to massage it, it had to be: When God the Father looks at me, he doesn't see me; He sees Christ, or so it went.

But now I see something else. I see in that cross true good news for me. For you. Jesus preaches that gospel from His throne on that cross: This is how much I love you. This is how far I will go. The just for the unjust, with no hesitation. He did not wait, and he does not. The cross does not tell the story of wrath turned away for an undeserving yet arbitrary few; it tells the story of our hatred toward Him turned back, swallowed in unending mercy.

The wrath of God will indeed be terrible, but only because the most affectionate appeal has already been made from the mountain of Calvary. Jesus Himself said, "And after I am lifted up, I will draw all men to myself." No one who preaches it has more to say but, "Look!" Or, if you like, "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!"

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