Tuesday, 22 October 2013

The Cross and the Crucifix

The Man of Sorrows, Aelbrecht Bouts (c. 1460-1549)
The Cross is not a detour or a hurdle on the way to the  kingdom, nor is it even the way to the kingdom; it is the kingdom come.
 -John Howard Yoder

There was a time when reflecting on the Cross,  I might have tried a 'cold approach'. It's the approach that collapses and restricts my thinking about Jesus' death into Easter Weekend OR WORSE into one specific dominate atonement theory. It's the approach that treats Jesus more as an object than the Lord that I imitate. It's the approach that is cold to the way of the Cross. The 'cold approach' allows me gloss over seeing myself in the story of the Cross. I am guilty of having a 'cold approach'. There was a time when I was more excited about memorizing facts on 'hot-topic' theological issues than about Jesus and the way of the Cross. You can get a lot of energy from theology, but don't try getting life from it. It's a dangerous path that can lead to idolatrous certainty. Get life from Christ. 

I've long since given up the 'cold approach' on my reflection on the Cross (and Jesus for that matter). I've shifted my thinking to see that the Gospel writers are not merely recording history, but each author has a rich theology that must be paid attention too! I have opened up shop on the Gospels and I have found a very deep, deep, deep well. I no longer see the Cross as Jesus dying so that I don't have too, but rather I am crucified with Christ


It is important to remember that Jesus first identifies the way of the Cross in the context of being a disciple who follows him. (Luke 9:22-24, Matt 10:38, Mark 8:34) If any person is to follow Christ they must take up the Cross and lose their life in order to find it. I too must take up my Cross and follow the Risen Lord. Christ has bid me come and die. It's a sobering thought... but I can't escape the deep implications of Christ's call to me. 

These days I find myself praying Paul's words to be "resolved to know nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified." (1 Cor 2.2) I've never been more cut to heart than meditating about Jesus on the Cross. It takes a lot out of me. I feel a weightiness about the Cross. It brings me to tears. I endlessly contemplate Jesus' words to, "Take up your Cross and follow me". Prayer for me has often become a time of beholding Jesus on the Cross. I sit in silence and contemplate on the mystery of the Cross as a stumbling block, as foolishness, as the power of God. (1 Cor 1) 

I see on the Cross:

The disfigurement.

The Suffering Servant.

The scandal.

The offensiveness. 

A humanity driven by fear, pride, and maintaining the axis of power enforced by violence. 

The beauty of the Son of God who speaks the words of forgiveness from the Cross of his death. 

The Son of man who fully identifies with humanity in suffering. 

The Father who has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help. (Ps 22.24) 

The Cross and the Crucifix

This video features a short reflection from Morpeth's Anglican Rector, Reverend Simon White, about his infamous Crucifix that hangs on the wall of his office. I thought the story was worth sharing. I've also thrown in some of my favourite paintings and quotes for good measure. 

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