The trouble with responding to such a question is that the cross of Christ isn’t just one thing but rather a labyrinth of sacred mystery. At the cross, all that is wrong with humanity and the civilizations we have built is dragged into the light. It is also the place where we encounter God’s forgiveness and the redemptive alternative that God offers to the world.
Upon being asked to assign meaning to the cross, I was immediately reminded of this brilliant statement from the great Swiss theologian, Hans Urs von Balthasar:
“Being disguised under the disfigurement of an ugly crucifixion and death, Christ upon the cross is paradoxically the clearest revelation of who God is.”
Translation: If you want to know what God is like and what that God is up to in the world, look to the cross.
In my previous post, “Reading the Bible Right,” I advocated for a Christ-centered reading of Scripture. Today, let me suggest that the cross is the most Christ-revealing moment of the Bible. Put differently, God is defined at the cross, or as the German Theologian, Jürgen Moltmann, writes, “The death of Jesus on the cross is the center of all Christian theology. All Christian statements about God, about creation, about sin and death have their focal point in the crucified Christ.”
So what does the cross mean to me?
At the cross, we sinned our sins into Jesus and he forgave us.
At the cross, Jesus judges sin, casts out Satan, and re-founds the world.
At the cross, Jesus re-orients the world from the way of Cain (collective murder) to the way of Abel (co-suffering love).
At the cross, Jesus achieves solidarity with all who suffer.
At the cross, Jesus reveals a God who would rather die than kill his enemies.
At the cross, God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.
At the cross, Jesus joins humanity in death that we might join him in resurrection.
At the cross, Jesus descends into Sheol/Hades that he might open the door to eternal life.
At the cross, we find the coronation of the world’s rightful king.
At the cross, Jesus does NOT satisfy the wrath of God but INSTEAD magnifies the love of God.
At the cross, Jesus does NOT save us from God, but INSTEAD reveals God.
This Lent, may we fix our eyes upon the crucified Christ because this is who God is, this is what God is like.
Let us not come to the cross looking for a formula or a theory.
Let us come to the cross looking for God.
The crucified God.
The guilty God.
Guilty of love.
Look to Me, and be saved,
All you ends of the earth!
For I am God, and there is no other.