July 14, 2009
The Humanity of the Cross
"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:2 (NIV)
Several years ago our church showed Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” to commemorate the Easter season. I will never forget feeling physically sick watching the scene at Golgotha. What I remember is pieced together from a few fleeting, tear-blurred glances at the screen.
Crucifixion was one of the most brutal and inhumane forms of torture ever conceived. I’ll admit that I have been guilty of trying to move quickly over the carnage it portrays. When in moments of worship or reflection, the Holy Spirit has led me to consider the Cross, I try to soften its jagged, bloody edges by reminding myself that Christ was God, trinitarily divine.
I want to protect Jesus (and myself) by pretending that He didn’t need to feel every bone-crushing blow that nailed Him to that beam for my sin. It seems to make it just a little easier to think of Jesus on the cross not as man, but as God. That Jesus is God is a certain and theological truth, but I must not diminish the act of His suffering by thinking He would abuse His divinity.
Jesus didn’t recoil into His divine nature to escape the pain of death on the Cross. He didn’t sweat drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane simply to prove a point or for dramatic effect. Jesus agonized over the pain He knew He would endure.
In Matthew 27, Scripture tells us that Jesus cried out from the Cross on two separate occasions. The first cry in verse 45 reflects Jesus’ torment over His alienation from the Father. The second cry in verse 50 reveals His body’s physical release from the pain of death as “he gave up his spirit.” I believe Scripture records both of these cries to indicate that each outburst represents a distinct reaction - one spiritual, one physical.
I wonder if we aren’t meant to relate to the Cross in similar fashion: spiritual and physical. I also wonder if we aren't guilty of reserving our concentration on the Cross for the yearly Easter celebrations. After Easter, is the reality of the Cross still poignantly fresh? In his book “Outrageous Mercy: Rediscovering the Radical Nature of the Cross,” William Farley says of the Cross, “There is nothing deeper. It is a bottomless well, a fountain of vibrant truth, a pinnacle of wisdom and knowledge. In it lie the depths of the mysteries of God. The first sign of spiritual maturity is when one increasingly thinks about, ponders, marvels, and wonders at the mystery of the cross.”
One of my ambitions is to think regularly about the Cross. I want to see the whole picture of the Cross. I want to experience it eyes wide open in painstaking reality. I don’t want to deceive my heart in thinking it was less than horrific. My sin demanded such horror. I hope that in enduring the Cross with Jesus, I’ll worship more deeply, weep more sincerely and rejoice more abundantly at His Resurrection.
Dear Lord, thank You for the grace of the cross. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Jesus Calling by Sarah Young
Sanctuary: A Devotional Bible for Woman in the New Living Translation
Reread each gospel’s account of Jesus’ crucifixion. Try to read them as though you’ve never heard the story.
What sights would you see? What sounds would you hear? What emotions are particularly real to you?
Do you believe that Jesus really endured such torture for you? How does that affect your confidence in today’s Power Verses?
Hebrews 2:14-18, “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants. For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (NIV)
© 2009 by Whitney Capps. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
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