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"The fathomless mystery of the crucifixion"

Jill Carattini:

crucifixion.jpgThere was a body on the cross.  This was the shocking revelation of a 12 year-old seeing a crucifix for the first time.  I was not used to seeing Jesus there--or any body for that matter.  The many crosses in my world were empty.  But here, visiting a friend's church, in a denomination different from my own, was a scene I had never fully considered.

In my own Protestant circles I remember hearing the rationale.  Holy Week did not end with Jesus on the cross.  Good Friday is not the end of the story.  Jesus was crucified, died, and was buried.  And on the third day, he rose again.  The story ends in the victory of Easter.  The cross is empty because Christ is risen.

In fact, it is true, and as Paul notes, essential, that Christians worship a risen Christ.  "[For] if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith is in vain" (1 Corinthians 15:14).  Even walking through the events of Holy Week--the emotion of the Last Supper, the anguish in Gethsemane, the denials of the disciples, the interrogation of Pilate, and the lonely way to Golgotha--we are well aware that though the cross is coming, so is the empty tomb.  The dark story of Good Friday will indeed be answered by the light of Easter morning.

And yet, there is scarcely a theologian I can imagine who would set aside the fathomless mystery of the crucifixion in the interest of a doctrine that "over-shadows" it.  The resurrection follows the crucifixion; it does not erase it.   Though the cross has indeed taken away the sting of sin and death, and Christ has truly borne our pain, and the burden of humanity is that we will follow him.  Even Christ, who retained the scars of his own crucifixion, told his followers that they, too, would drink the cup from which he drank.  The Christian, who considers himself "crucified with Christ," will surely "take up his cross" and follow him.  The good news is that Christ goes with us, even as he went before us, fully tasting humanity in a body like yours and mine.

Thus, far from being an act that undermines the victory of the resurrection, the remembrance of Jesus's hour of suffering boldly unites us with Christ himself.  For it was on the cross that Christ most intimately bound himself to humanity.  It was "for this hour" that Christ himself declared that he came.  Humanity is, in turn, united to him in his suffering and is near him in our own.  Had there not been an actual body on the cross, such mysteries would not be substantive enough to reach us.

She's got more.  It's good.


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Comments (9)

My wife and I had this conv... (Below threshold)

My wife and I had this conversation last night. She was wondering why so much focus is put on the crucifixtion when the glory and power came three days later? I agreed but said it's like when we look back on things in our own lives that were good or bad, we learn from it. But I did agree some spend to much time on the dying Jesus and not on the resurrected Jesus.

The post is great. If I could change anything, it would be to expound more on what went on in the spirit world the three days from crucifixtion to resurrection. That is where the deeper lesson lies. ww

Thanks, Rick. A friend and ... (Below threshold)

Thanks, Rick. A friend and I had this conversation, also, with another friend who is Catholic. This article is very helpful in bringing both points of view together. I agree that it is important for us to remember the suffering Christ experienced in order to have that beautiful empty cross on Resurrection Day

It is also a reminder that ... (Below threshold)

It is also a reminder that while the actual crucifixion and resurection of Christ happened a couple thousand years ago, it was a timeless act. Jesus was nailed to the cross not just for all the sins that humans had committed up to the day that day, but for all the sins that would be commited by humans in the many, many years to come.

Today, thousands of years later, when we sin, we are still driving those same nails into that cross.

Truly a miracle that from 1... (Below threshold)

Truly a miracle that from 12 diciples the world was changed. With no mass communication. Much persecution, the Word spread. ww

Jesus told me to tell you t... (Below threshold)

Jesus told me to tell you that he is pissed at anyone who focuses on his death, rather than the lessons he taught while still alive. Jesus, what is wrong with you people?!?!?!

Stan - You really don;t kno... (Below threshold)
Big Mo:

Stan - You really don;t know what you're saying. Jesus' dying on the cross and victorious rise from the grave IS the point. Without His sacrifice and assuming the sins of the world, we would all be lost -- permanently.

Stan probably thinks da Joo... (Below threshold)

Stan probably thinks da Joooooooz killed Jesus.

Jesus told me to tell yo... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

Jesus told me to tell you that he is pissed at anyone who focuses on his death, rather than the lessons he taught while still alive.

Only Good Friday about his death; it's about Him dying on the cross for the rest of us—yes, even you. And the Easter season is 100% central to the belief in a Risen Christ. We mourn today, but only today.

In Easter, we rejoice in Ch... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

In Easter, we rejoice in Christ's resurrection and the proof of his power over all things in this world, even death.

In Good Friday, we are astonished, not that God should love us, but that He loves enough to bear any cost for us, any pain, even to die for our sin. One must utterly reject or accept the truth of Christ's sacrifice - if he is rejected, then he died for nothing, a fool, which would be tragic but a human could understand this. If we accept the truth of Christ's sacrifice, we begin to see not only how truly worthless we ourselves are, but to see something of the persons God intends for us to become.

The crucifixion is our conviction; the resurrection is our redemption. Both are necessary for Man and holy to the Lord.






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