The Reach of the Cross
I want this morning to reflect with you on the Cross of Jesus. In first Corinthians, the Apostle Paul makes a remarkable claim about the Cross. He writes: I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 1 Cor 2:1-2 Why did the Apostle Paul, in coming to the Corinthians, focus so exclusively on the Cross? Why has the Cross played such a preeminent role in Christian theology? Even in the iconography of the Church, the Cross is absolutely central. Why is that? In the Cross, the eternal Son of God enters fully into the human condition, takes on himself the totality of human sin and 1 pain, and once and for all extinguishes the power of evil over our lives. To accomplish so great a redemption, the Lord Jesus paid the ultimate cost. Truly, there is no greater suffering than what Christ experienced on the Cross. But do we really believe that? Consider a diary entry by Anna Williams, a scientist active in the early part of the twentieth century. The Cross gave her no comfort. As she saw it, Jesus knew that his anguish would be momentary and that in exchange he would save the world. As she wrote in her diary, “This knowledge... if we were sure, oh! what would we not be willing to undergo.” [[See John Barry, The Great Influenza, p. 273]] How should we respond to Anna Williams? Does it help to note that the cross was the ultimate instrument of torture in the ancient world? Was Anna Williams therefore taking the sufferings of our Lord too lightly? As a cosseted ivory-tower intellectual, what did she know about suffering anyway? Didn’t Christ on the Cross suffer more than she ever did in her bourgeois little world? Instead of whining about the Cross not being enough, shouldn’t 2 she have gratefully accepted the redemption that could be hers only through the Cross? But this response misses the point.
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