Good Friday — Judgment and Mercy

The cross of Christ is critical in the life of the believer. This year, it is a stark symbol for our time. We need to pay attention.

The way of the Cross is the way of humiliation. Our God is not the vengeful, warrior God. He is not about “conquering” the way we think in current American conservative Christian practice. Our current mentality is “war.” Our Lord is about the way of humiliation. The Cross is that symbol.

This Easter is a time of liberation… and judgment. If we see the way of the Cross again as the way of humility, we find true life. If we ignore the Cross and humiliation and continue to only seek “power” and “might,” we will find failure. We will find judgment. God will deal with our arrogance.

God, forgive us.

Christ, have mercy.

Domesticating the Cross of Christ

“It is startling to reflect on just how diminished the average modern Western Christian vision of ‘hope,’ of ‘inheritance,’ or indeed of ‘forgiveness’ itself has become. We have exchanged the glory of God for a mess of spiritualized, individualistic and moralistic pottage.And in the middle of it we have radically distorted the meaning of the central gospel message: that, in accordance with the Bible, sins are forgiven through the Messiah’s death. We have domesticated the revolution.” (NT Wright, The Day the Revolution Began, emphasis added)

The cultural status of our Christianity

I am taking a bit of a break from my normal daily lectionary reading and going back to something I have enjoyed my adult life walking with Christ. It is to walk slowly through a book of the Bible and pray. I like walking through a book of the Bible and study, pray, think devotionally, theologically, etc. This is something that has bubbled up in my spirit lately, so I asked the Lord where to land and I find myself in 1 Corinthians.

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The continuous lessons of the cross

34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Mark 8:34-36, NIV)

I can remember a seminary professor saying, “You don’t need to go looking for a cross. One has been readily provided.”

Lord, too often my aversion to the cross steers me away from the glory of your resurrection. Keep me in the shadow of your cross and may its daily work have an ever deepening impact on my life. Amen.

The power of self-giving love

45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45, NIV)

Self-giving love is the key. This is the power set loose on the world. This is the heart of the revolution launched on Good Friday. (NT Wright, “The Day the Revolution Began”)

The hard road of the cross is still beautiful

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34)

I can remember a professor New Testament in seminary saying these beautiful words: “When Jesus calls us to take up our cross, we don’t need to go looking for one. One has already been provided.”

Following Jesus is the ultimate risk and the ultimate joy. It is a calling that brings sacrifice… and reward. The hardest way is the most joyous way.

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We only see what we want to see

Our perpetual struggle is blindness. Not physical blindness. Mental or spiritual blindness. From claims of conspiracy theories to fake news, we don’t like hearing what is counter to what we hold dear. And here is some news that isn’t fake: it is like this all the time. EverywhereRead more