Cross words

The first ‘Good Friday’ was a day of death, despair and desolation.

Easter Saturday shows us life with the cross as the final word – a life of grief, hopelessness and guilt.

And this is why Easter speaks right into the angst and struggle of our lives. Jesus said he came not for the ‘healthy’ but for the ‘sick’. Not for the proudly self-sufficient but for those who recognise their need. And Easter shows us how God himself enters that guilt, hopelessness and despair in order to embrace it and overcome it.

Few saw the connection more clearly between the cross and its power to face head on the brokenness of humanity than Martin Luther. Here’s a quote for today from a chapter by Mark Thompson on ‘Luther on Despair’ in the book The Consolations of Theology

Martin Luther was a man who knew despair from the inside and knew it in a remarkably intense way. He did not try to explain it away or dress it up or pretend it wasn’t real. Yet he realised that true theology, a proper understanding of God and his purposes, provides the only genuine and effective counter to despair. The living God is not the impersonal executor of cosmic justice. Rather, the intensity of his involvement with us in the midst of our selfishness and preversity is seen in the gift of his Son.

I love those last two lines.

What are your thoughts on this Good Friday?

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2 thoughts on “Cross words

  1. On Good Friday my thoughts move to Hebrews 5:7-10

    “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.”

    Introduced in Heb 4:15, the humanity of Jesus as our high priest always hits me with great force. For we see as a human he experienced the weakness of human flesh, the agony of temptation, experiencing it in every way. He was tempted, just as we are, and yet he was different, for he did not sin.

    It is Jesus’ role as high priest that brings us to the reality of 4:16. Because of Jesus’ high priestly work we are now able to enter into the presence of God with confidence, so we may find mercy and grace in our time of need. Mercy for our past failures and grace for our present and future work. Help in the face of our temptation.

    In Christ we now then have this freedom, a freedom which has two sides, the free right to approach God, a freedom given in the high priestly sacrifice of Christ, which is the essence of the Christian faith, and secondly the free confession of this faith, which is our unshakable hope. These two sides are an inseparable unity.

    In the situation in which we as believers live today we need both to receive the gift that is given in Christ’s priestly sacrifice and secondly the task of confession in our lives as true.

    On this Good Friday I confess the truth of Galatians 3:13 as true: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.””

    In the context of Hebrew 5:7-10 Christ becoming a curse brings tears to my eyes, for with “loud cries and tears” he went to the cross, in submission to his Father in Heaven for his love of humanity.

    On this Good Friday I weep with joy, I give thanks for my Saviour’s love and will celebrate on Easter Sunday the hope of 1 Peter 1:3-5 as one born again through the mercy of our Father in Heaven.

  2. Thanks Michael,

    Your comments are a reminder that the cross is at once amazingly simple (‘Christ died for our sins’) and richly complex (the multitude of images and themes interwoven throughtout the NT that all in distinct ways shed light on what actually happened at the cross). And how at the heart of it all is the love of God that is beyond all measure.

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