April 1, 2012
Rooted at the heart of the Christian faith is the insistent declaration that Jesus “died for us.” The implication of Christ’s death is that it has put us right with God. Theories abound as to how his death accomplished this but the bottom line is that somehow by his death on the cross, Christians have come to trust that Jesus spans the divide between humanity and the divine. I grew up being told that Jesus’ death saves humanity from the destruction that the perfect justice of God demands. The emphasis was all about our human sinfulness. Frankly, this no longer resonates with me.
For me, at its simplest and most profound, the death of Jesus is, like the life of Jesus, an event that reveals the way of God with the world. The cross simply discloses the heart of God. I see two realities in the cross:
First, the cross portrays in starkest terms a love so vast as to descend to any depth for the sake of us. Second, the cross is a sign that God has passed through the very suffering that is bound up with our human condition. The death of Jesus becomes the living out of God’s love for us and presence with us even in the darkest depths of our experience.
The cross keeps us from being naïve about suffering, injustice, and loss. The center of the Passion story exposes the high-water mark of evil. But evil does not get the last word. In the death of Jesus, God descends into human suffering, absorbs and incorporates—takes in God’s corpus, God’s body—the whole of our brokenness and pain. On the cross, God becomes our sure companion for every step of the journey, whether bright or overcast, fair or stormy. By the death of Jesus, God speaks that there is no pain that we might bear that God has not borne, no darkness that can overshadow us that God has not seen, no fear that might grip us that is not known to God. In Christ, God has been there and is with us.
So yes, for me, somehow the death of Jesus, an event that might have been just another installment in the "sorry human epic of torture, injustice, and death," is transformed by resurrection and becomes a death with meaning. Somehow on the cross, the love of God reaches across the chasm between humanity and the divine and pulls us across into eternal, outstretched arms. Somehow!
Thanks be to God.
THE CHURCH BUILDING IS CLOSED
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