Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Day 37 :: God on a Cross

“Messiah, is He? King of Israel?
Then let Him climb down from that cross.
We’ll all become believers then!”
Even the men crucified alongside Him
joined in the mockery.”
Mark 15:32

In the book, The Cross of Christ, author John Stott writes this descriptive reality about the cross:

I could never myself believe in God if it were not for the cross. The only God I believe in is the one Nietzsche ridiculed as “God on the Cross.” In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it? I have entered many Buddhist temples in different Asian countries and stood respectfully before the statue of Buddha, his legs crossed, arms folded, eyes closed, the ghost of a smile playing round his mouth, a remote look on his face, detached from the agonies of the world. But each time after awhile I have had to turn away. And in imagination, I have turned instead to that lonely, twisted, tortured figure on the cross, nails through his hands
and feet, back lacerated, limbs wrenched, brow bleeding from thorn pricks, mouth dry and intolerably thirsty, plunged in God-forsaken darkness. That is the God for me!

He laid aside his immunity to pain. He entered our world of flesh and blood, tears and death. He suffered for us. Our sufferings become more manageable in the light of his. There is still a question mark against human suffering, but over it we boldly stamp another mark, the cross which symbolizes divine suffering.*

Reflection: Jesus suffered a brutal death. He was executed on a stake as a criminal. Many were they who came within spitting distance of this so-called Messiah. Somehow many of us have become numb to this scene. Perhaps, ever so slowly it has become buried under the rubble of pop culture and consumerist religion. Spend some time reflecting on these penetrating words by Alexander Whyte:

You will understand that spitting scene that night
when God lets you see your own heart.*

Prayer: Humbly ask God to reveal to you what your heart looks like without Christ. Allow this image to produce within you gratefulness today for what He’s done and how He’s begun to give you a new heart.

*John Stott, The Cross of Christ, 326-327.
*Alexander Whyte, The Best of Alexander Whyte, 76.

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