Hiding our face from the cross
I try to read from the Bible every day. Currently, I am reading Romans. Sometimes, the letters of the New Testament contain some pretty thick theology, and I return to more narrative parts of the Bible (let’s face it, stories are an easier read).
I always like to go back to the gospel accounts. The miracles, preaching and wisdom of Jesus engage me. It’s all good stuff, and I feel good reading it. But, in the back of my mind, I know there’s a crucifixion coming. He’s going to be beaten, spat upon, rejected, crucified, and He will die. It’s my natural inclination to want to speed through this portion of Scripture.
I don’t want to “see” a bloodied Jesus. I don’t want to see human cruelty. I don’t want to see torture and execution (on a cross). I don’t want to see the humiliation of my Lord. But, it’s there. God had it recorded not once or twice, but four times. Each gospel writer gives us an account of this event. And all other events leading up to this appear to happen very quickly in comparison to the slow, arduous chapters depicting His death. It’s as if the authors grab us from the back of the head and push our faces into Jesus’ death. They don’t want us to miss the impact of it.
The reason I want to turn away from this “movie” of His death is because I don’t want to remember that it was my sin that caused it. I want the Jesus who is happy with me. I want the one who is my brother. I want the one who feeds me my daily bread, teaches me doctrine, brings me to remember upbeat spiritual songs. The other vision is much too depressing.
Perhaps this is why so many Christians reject the image of the crucifix. We’re o.k. with a picture of Jesus talking with the children or breaking the loaves, but Jesus on a cross? It’s too gruesome. It’s … offensive.
And that’s exactly what the cross is! This is what God wants us to look at, again and again. It tells us that the sum of our best Christian works amount to the death of God. We can sanitize, clean up and white wash the death of Jesus. Or, like most in the church, we can just bypass it like a freeway driver getting a glimpse of an accident.
But, this is not the message handed down from the apostles. Paul states, “We preach Christ and Him crucified”. So, look again. Look at the cross which ended our Lord’s life. Look at the wounds that healed us. Look at the thorn-crowned head which bore the pain of knowing all our intimate sins … intimately!
If you want to know that Jesus loves you, look up to the man on the cross between two criminals. Look at the man who the Father was pleased to crush. Look at the man who bore the weight of our guilt. He is the one who takes upon Himself all of our sin, even the sin of looking away from Him! His love for you and me empowered Him to endure rejection, beating, crucifixion and the Wrath of God so that we would … we will never have to.
He has saved us from our sins, and given us eternal life. It’s the promise secured in His blood.
To God be the Glory both now and forever.