Jun 26, 2010
Maybe you haven’t given much thought to this, but a cross is a pretty odd symbol for our faith. Crosses were an instrument of torture and execution, a brutal reminder of oppressive power on public display. The Romans executed many people this way, though Roman citizens themselves were exempt- it was considered too awful, too degrading. This form of punishment was reserved for base criminals and those the empire wanted to make an example of. The message: “Mess with Caesar, this is what you can expect.”
And yet we Christians (literally, “little Christ’s”) cherish the cross and all that it accomplished for us. See the words tacked up over Jesus’ head—“The King of the Jews”. Placed there as mockery, but we bow in worship, for He is indeed King of All. Stare in wonder at wounds that tore open flesh on hands and feet, knowing that “He was pierced for our transgressions.” Kneel before a crown of cruel thorns, knowing that the King of Kings is crowned in unbearable anguish.
And this is what separates Christianity from other faiths– these paradoxes and mysteries. The Cross reveals that only in dying does Jesus bring us life. That the pathway to glory is found in suffering and humility- the way up is truly down. For the Cross turns on their heads the gods of this world. The god of comfort and ease is trumped by a cross and it’s pain. The god of power and might is overthrown by surrender and apparent defeat. The god of achievement is bested by One scorned by all, dying alone and penniless. This is our King and His Kingdom of the Upside Down.
And so we cling to this Cross, this horrific symbol of suffering, for only by Jesus’ death do we live, in his shackles are we freed. Only by His pain are we healed. And only by entering in with Jesus to His Upside Down Kingdom do we discover reality as it truly is. In the words of the old hymn, “I will cling to the old, rugged Cross.” Won’t you?