Friday, 9 January 2009

The News of the Cross

Christ on the cross - simply with us in our suffering, or achieving for us an eternal hope of new life? Art speaks powerfully - and in this instance, the old debate is reheated: to fix our eyes on Jesus, crucified perpetually, or the symbol of his death and resurrection? I tend to think that seeing the empty cross reminds us, as Krish says, of the reality that we worship a God who died, but who also was raised to life, reigns, gives eternal life knowing the Father, and will return to judge the living and dead.

The argument runs that it is with a crucifix that one comforts the one facing death - that they see Christ with them in their suffering, his arms outstretched in love. Now that is true. But it is not the whole truth. What point is there in a good man who suffered alongside: even a supremely loving, welcoming man who suffered alongside, if that was all he did - if he stayed there? No, he came and suffered for us and for our salvation, and to all of us facing death, he holds out life. The cross is empty - he announced his task accomplished, and gave up his spirit to the Father. His tomb is no memorial, but empty - never needed again. Our tombs, and our sufferings? Merely borrowed, merely granted for a little time. For he was delivered up for our trespasses, and raised for our justification. [Rom 4.25]

[HT: Krish, who participated in the debate]

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