Jesus Christ is what God does, and the cross where God did it.
The most experienced psychologist or observer of human nature knows infinitely less of the human heart than the simplest Christian who lives beneath the Cross of Jesus. The greatest psychological insight, ability, and experience cannot grasp this one thing: what sin is. Worldly wisdom knows what distress and weakness and failure are, but it does not know the godlessness of man. And so it also does not know that man is destroyed only by his sin and can be healed only by forgiveness. Only the Christian knows this.
Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. At the end all his disciples deserted him. On the Cross he was utterly alone, surrounded by evildoers and mockers. For this cause he had come, to bring peace to the enemies of God. So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thick of foes. There is his commission, his work. ‘The kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies. And he who will not suffer this does not want to be of the Kingdom of Christ; he wants to be among friends, to sit among roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the devout people. O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are doing who would ever have been spared’ (Luther).
In Jesus Christ on the Cross, there is refuge; there is safety; there is shelter; and all the power of sin upon our track cannot reach us when we have taken shelter under the Cross that atones for our sins.
Through the death of Christ on the cross making atonement for sin, we get a perfect standing before God. That is justification, and it puts us, in God’s sight, back in Eden before sin entered. God looks upon us and treats us as if we had never sinned.
By the cross we, too, are crucified with Christ; but alive in Christ. We are no more rebels, but servants; no more servants, but sons!
God proved His love on the Cross. When Christ hung, and bled, and died, it was God saying to the world, “I love you.”
The motive of grace is the infinite, compassionate love of a merciful God, but the work of grace was the death of Christ on the cross.
Edward McKendree Bounds
All God’s plans have the mark of the cross on them, and all His plans have death to self in them.
I would catch a glimpse of the cross—and suddenly my heart would stand still. In an instinctive, intuitive way I understood that something more important, more tumultuous, more passionate, was at issue than our good causes, however noble they might be…. I should have worn it…. It should have been my uniform, my language, my life. I shall have no excuse; I can’t say I didn’t know. I knew from the beginning, and turned away.
But when the cross is working deeply a believer comes to know himself. He realizes how undependable are his ideas, feelings and desires.
H. Richard Neibuhr
To some of us it seems that in the cross of Jesus Christ, in the death of such a man who trusts God and is responsible to him as a son, we face the great negative instance-summarizing and symbolizing all the negative instance-is faced, faith in the universal power as God must rest on quicksand; in facing it however, we have the demonstration in this very instance of a life-power that is not conquered, not destroyed. Reality maintains and makes powerful such life as this. The ultimate power does not manifest itself as the Father of Jesus Christ through his resurrection from death. The resurrection is not manifest to us in physical signs but in his continuing Lordship-his session at the right hand of power, as the old creeds put it. So we apprehend the way of God as manifested not in creation and destruction but in these and resurrection, in the raising of the temporal to the eternal plane.
No pain, no palm; no thorns, no throne; no gall, no glory; no cross, no crown.
What was once foolishness to us-a crucified God-must become our wisdom and our power and our only boast in this world.
Frederick W. Robertson
The deep undertone of the world is sadness – a solemn bass, occurring at measured intervals and heard through all other tones. Ultimately, all the strains of this world’s music resolve themselves into that tone; and I believe that, rightly felt, the cross, and the cross alone, interprets the mournful mystery of life, the sorrow of the Highest – the Lord of Life, the result of error and sin, but ultimately remedial, purifying and exalting.
Christ and His cross are not separable in this life; howbeit Christ and His cross part at heaven’s door, for there is no house-room for crosses in heaven. One tear, one sigh, one sad heart, one fear, one loss, one thought of trouble cannot find lodging there.
Dorothy L. Sayers
Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross. They had never known a man like this Man – there never has been such another. A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, never flattered or coaxed or patronized; who never made arch jokes about them, never treated them either as “The women, God help us!” or “The ladies, God bless them!”; who rebuked without querulousness and praised without condescension; who took their questions and arguments seriously; who never mapped out their sphere for them, never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for being female; who had no axe to grind and no uneasy male dignity to defend; who took them as he found them and was completely unself-conscious. There is no act, no sermon, no parable in the whole Gospel that borrows its pungency from female perversity; nobody could possibly guess from the words and deeds of Jesus that there was anything “funny” about woman’s nature.”
Hans Urs von Balthasar
It is to the Cross that the Christian is challenged to follow his Master: no path of redemption can make a detour around it.
Love was compressed for all history in that lonely figure on the cross, who said that he could call down angels at any moment on a rescue mission, but chose not to – because of us. At Calvary, God accepted his own unbreakable terms of justice.
Any discussion of how pain and suffering fit into God’s scheme ultimately leads back to the cross.
In the cross there is a cure for every spiritual disease. There is food for every spiritual virtue in the Savior. We never go to him too often.
He, the Life of all, our Lord and Savior, did not arrange the manner of his own death lest He should seem to be afraid of some other kind. No. He accepted and bore upon the cross a death inflicted by others, and those other His special enemies, a death which to them was supremely terrible and by no means to be faced; and He did this in order that, by destroying even this death, He might Himself be believed to be the Life, and the power of death be recognized as finally annulled. A marvelous and mighty paradox has thus occurred, for the death which they thought to inflict on Him as dishonor and disgrace has become the glorious monument to death’s defeat.
In the Christian theology of history, the death of Christ is the central point of history; here all the roads of the past converge; hence all the roads of the future diverge.
The Cross is the place were people’s stories turn around.
Sermon: Baptism, from the Series “Cross Examine,” Nov. 25, 2018
Melito of Sardis
And so he was raised on a cross, and a title was fixed, indicating who it was who was being executed. Painful it is to say, but more terrible not to say. . . . He who suspended the earth is suspended, he who fixed the heavens is fixed, he who fastened all things is fastened to the wood; the Master is outraged; God is murdered.
The inner criterion of whether or not Christian theology is Christian lies in the crucified Christ . . . we come back to Luther’s lapidary statement, the cross is the test of everything: Crux probat omnia.
Christ is to us just what his cross is. All that Christ was in heaven or on earth was put into what he did there…Christ, I repeat, is to us just what his cross is. You do not understand Christ till you understand his cross.
Theophan the Recluse
Remember that each of us has his own cross. The Golgotha of this cross is our heart: it is being lifted or implanted through a zealous determination to live according to the Spirit of God. Just as salvation of the world is by the Cross of God, so our salvation is by our crucifixion on our own cross.
Thomas À Kempis
Jesus today has many who love his heavenly kingdom, but few who carry his cross; many who yearn for comfort, few who long for distress. Plenty of people he finds to share his banquet, few to share his fast. Everyone desires to take part in his rejoicing, but few are willing to suffer anything for his sake. There are many that follow Jesus as far as the breaking of bread, few as far as drinking the cup of suffering; many that revere his miracles, few that follow him in the indignity of his cross.
The cross is not a sign of the church’s quiet, suffering submission to the powers-that-be, but rather the church’s revolutionary participation in the victory of Christ over those powers. The cross is not a symbol for general human suffering and oppression. Rather, the cross is a sign of what happens when one takes God’s account of reality more seriously than Caesar’s. The cross stands as God’s (and our) eternal no to the powers of death, as well as God’s eternal yes to humanity, God’s remarkable determination not to leave us to our own devices.
Precisely how a man nailed to a cross 2,000 years ago, who claimed to be the Son of God, came to signify reality, in contradiction to the sawdust men of destiny with their fraudulent wars and revolutions and liberations, is something that can be understood, but not explained. You either see it or you don’t.
Samuel M. Zwemer
If the Cross of Christ is anything to the mind, it is surely everything – the most profound reality and the sublimest mystery. One comes to realize that literally all the wealth and glory of the gospel centres here. The Cross is the pivot as well as the centre of New Testament thought. It is the exclusive mark of the Christian faith, the symbol of Christianity and its cynosure. The more unbelievers deny its crucial character, the more do believers find in it the key to the mysteries of sin and suffering. We rediscover the apostolic emphasis on the Cross when we read the gospel with Moslems. We find that, although the offence of the Cross remains, its magnetic power is irresistible.
Thomas Howard and J I. Packer
Cross-bearing is the long lesson of our mortal life. It is a part of God’s salvation, called sanctification. It is a lesson set before us every moment of every day.” “If life were an art lesson…we could describe it as a process of finding how to turn this mud into that porcelain, this discord into that sonata, this ugly stone block into that statue, this tangle of threads into that tapestry. In fact, however, the stakes are higher than in any art lesson. It is in the school of sainthood that we find ourselves enrolled and the artifact that is being made is ourselves.
Christ goes to the cross, and we are invited to follow to the same cross. Not because it is the cross, but because it is His,”
Making Sense Out of Suffering (Ann Arbor, MI: Servant, 1986), 137.
Every cross adorning a church is in itself a sermon—a sermon proclaiming that if Christ can transform the Roman instrument of execution into a thing of beauty, there is hope that in Christ all things can be made beautiful!.
I believe every Christian should hang on a cross for at least thirty seconds. Their lives will never be the same.
Christian Reader, Vol. 34, Actor Bruce Marshiano, who portrayed Jesus in the Matthew video series.
In order to speak of the crucified God we need a theology of abandonment, of dereliction, of an alienation so profound that it can only be expressed in language marked by paradox and by great daring and risk. The Crucifixion of the Son of God by one of the most advanced civilizations in the ancient world does not seem to be an acceptable or reasonable method of redeeming the world. There is something so outrageous and obscene about it that the agony in Gethsemane becomes the only comprehensible part of the whole saga.
[At Calvary] Satan triumphed visibly, but Christ triumphed invisibly.
The Son and the Father are doing this [the crucifixion] in concert, by the power of the Spirit. This interposition of the Son between human beings and the curse of God upon Sin is a project of the three persons. The sentence of accursedness has fallen upon Jesus on our behalf and in our place, by his own decree as the second person.
Hide not the offense of the cross, lest you make it of none effect. The angles and corners of the gospel are its strength: to pare them off is to deprive it of power. Toning down is not the increase of strength, but the death of it.
The gospel of the cross will never be a popular message because it humbles the pride of our intellect and character.
The Roman world was largely unanimous that crucifixion was a horrific, disgusting business.. . . The relative scarcity of references to crucifixions in antiquity. . . are [sic] less a historical problem than an aesthetic one. . . . Crucifixion was widespread and frequent, above all in Roman times, but the cultured literary world wanted to have nothing to do with it, and as a rule kept quiet about it.
Executed publicly, situated at a major crossroads or on a well-trafficked artery, devoid of clothing, left to be eaten by birds and beasts, victims of crucifixion were subject to optimal, unmitigated, vicious ridicule.
“Crucifixion,” in The Cambridge Companion to Jesus, ed. Markus Bockmuehl (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 91.
The axis of the cross marks the turning point for God’s plan for this universe.
Taken from Competing Spectacles by Tony Reinke, © 2019, p.81. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.
The cross is the victory, the resurrection is the triumph…The resurrection is the public display of the victory, the triumph of the crucified one.
The figure of the Crucified invalidates all thought that takes success for its standards.
Pope Leo The Great
Christianity is a religion founded on the mystery of the cross of Christ.
The Encyclopedia Britannica
From its simplicity of form, the cross has been used both as a religious symbol and as an ornament, from the dawn of. . . civilization. Various objects, dating from periods long anterior to the Christian era, have been found, marked with crosses of different designs, in almost every part of the old world. India, Syria, Persia, and Egypt have all yielded numerous examples, with numerous instances, dating from the later Stone Age to Christian times, have been found in every part of Europe.
William Wood Seymour
According to tradition, [during the crucifixion] our Lord’s back was turned toward Jerusalem, which was in the east and his face toward the west. This may have been a refinement of cruelty on the part of the executioners. Jesus’ back was placed toward the capital of the nation of whom the Roman governor had written he was “King,” and his face turned to the setting sun, not only to remind him of his departing glory, as his enemies fondly deemed, but that no torture, however petty, yet agonizing, as the blaze of the sun would be, might be spared.
The cross was not a symbol of the earliest Christians, who preferred the anchor, the fish or Chi Rho. The crucifixion was a problem for the early Church, since it had to convince unbelievers of what would have seemed like a bizarre claim, that its God was a victim of this foul, and then still very current, form of punishment. Historically, crucifixion was not a punishment meted out by Jewish authorities, whose preferred method of execution was stoning: it was imported into Palestine by the Romans.. . . Therefore, it was a particular humiliation for Jesus the Jew to die on a Roman cross.
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