Updated: Feb 7
Often I think people only see the cross through the lens of sacrifice and atonement.
But, I think there’s more going on here. I think about the Abrahamic Covenant where Abraham cuts the animals in half making a blood path. In the Ancient Near Eastern culture, this blood path Covenant was a contractual agreement where two parties would walk the blood path splashing blood on their garments. The symbolism was to say, “If I fail to keep this covenant you may dance in my blood.”
Pretty gruesome picture. The interesting thing is that God passed through the path twice while putting Abraham in a deep sleep. God committed to holding up both ends of the agreement. Since humanity couldn’t and didn’t, God shed his own blood. In other words, God is committed to making a way for He and us to be in a relationship no matter the degree to which we betray the relationship. God wants to be in relationship that much.
God, in Jesus, also entered into suffering. For whatever reason, suffering seems to be a part of the reality that sinful, finite free creatures actualize. God is not just content to wipe it out.
He enters into it and allows injustice, hate, abuse, violence and death have its way with him. He felt everything in his human body—every hormonal exchange of emotion (he was distressed in the garden) and every excruciating lash of the Roman whip.
God incarnate experiences pain with us.
Which isn’t that comforting if it was the end of the story. Like, it’s comforting to have someone who can relate to you and your pain, but it doesn’t fully heal the wounds pain brings.
Jesus faces our ultimate enemy—death. So, not only does God experience pain, but God experiences death. Jesus exhaled a final breath and his human body fell limp. God experienced the trauma of dying.
That was Friday.
Sunday was the first day of the week.
Sunday was the first day of New Creation.
Sunday was the first day of a New Story.
Jesus passed through death, but on the way through He kicked death’s teeth in.
Jesus passed through death and came out the other side to resurrection life. Jesus holds the keys to death and grave.
The Resurrection doesn’t avoid suffering and death. Unfortunately. I feel that would be easier.
The Resurrection calls us to believe something that feels very much unbelievable. The Resurrection calls us to have faith that our longing for hope isn’t an empty longing. The Resurrection invites us to believe that there is Resurrection life on the other side of death.
In Jesus, God is with us in the suffering and allows it to do its worst to him. God, I believe, is not unmoved by the pain and suffering unleashed in our world. But, in Jesus, we hold to a faith that says, “The absolute worst thing evil has done is cause death. In faith, I can face even death and find Jesus there. I can face even death with this mysterious hope that on the other side Jesus will escort me to Resurrection life and New Creation.”
It’s like the question Sam posed to Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings, “…is everything sad going to come untrue?…”
“‘A great Shadow has departed,’ said Gandalf, and then he laughed, and the sound was like music, or like water in a parched land; and as he listened the thought came to Sam that he had not heard laughter, the pure sound of merriment, for days upon days without count. It fell upon his ears like the echo of all the joys he had ever known.”
At the cross, God in Jesus feels the suffering with me. At the tomb of a dear friend—even while clothed in Divinity—Jesus weeps.
But… whatever metaphysical mysteries await on the other side of death—Jesus has already passed through and came out the other side.
One day, everything sad will come untrue.