The mystery of the cross

Into this kind of self-centered, earthly kingdom, Jesus brought a different and dramatic – albeit radical – response to pain and suffering. His answer was a stumbling block then, and it is a stumbling block now. But only if it is properly and seriously understood can its beauty be seen amidst its obvious pain and hatred. I refer to the cross of Christ. The cross stands as a mystery because it is foreign to everything we exalt – self over principle, power over meekness, the quick fix over the long haul, cover-up over confession, escapism over confrontation, comfort over sacrifice, feeling over commitment, legality over justice, the body over the spirit, anger over forgiveness, man over God.

[I]n the cross alone, pain and evil meet in consummate conflict. In the cross alone are integrated love and justice, the twin foundations upon which we may build our moral and spiritual home, individually and nationally. It is theoretically and practically impossible to build any community apart from love and justice. If only one of these two is focused upon, an inevitable extremism and perversion follow. Throughout history, mankind has shouted its ideals of liberty, equality, and justice; yet the ideologies that have risen, supposedly in the pursuit of human progress, have left in their wake some very dastardly experiments that echo with the whimpering sounds of man, like a trapped animal. Rising above the cry of liberty, equality and justice is the more rending plea for that sense of belonging we call love. And love unbounded by any sense of right or wrong is not love but self-centeredness and autocracy. In the cross of Jesus Christ, the demands of the law were satisfied and the generosity of love was love was expressed.

Ravi Zacharias, Can Man Live Without God, Word Publishing (1994), pages 171-172.

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