“Crucified, Dead, and Buried”

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“Crucified means rejected… Death is the end of all present possibilities of life… In the grave [man] drops into forgottenness” (Barth). This describes the fate that humanity has chosen for itself in choosing sin, choosing rebellion against the Creator, choosing the distortion of the created nature. And it describes the fate that Jesus Christ, God’s Son, took upon himself in our stead, to fulfill righteousness and to reconcile us to God for eternal life. The prolonged torment of crucifixion was “the most cruel and horrifying punishment” (Cicero). Once you were on the cross, the only remaining comfort was death—which is no comfort. Jesus gave himself to suffer the most violent hostility. The cross of Christ is the picture of our conflict with God, the showcase of our kind of power… and now it is the symbol of our peace with God, the showcase of God’s kind of power, because through it God has killed our sin and death. Jesus became our sin (2 Corinthians 5:21), he became our curse (Galatians 3:13), and as such he died, according to God’s plan.

This is the glorious power of God because it is the shape of his love. Jesus didn’t put his divine glory on pause while he was crucified, dead, and buried; the “hour” of his cross was the hour of his glory (John 12:23; 17:1). The God-man was willing to endure death for us. His freedom to love us like this is identical to his power. The cross is the ultimate exercise of Christ’s authority, which is an authority to give himself for the sake of those who would usurp God’s authority and distort his power in their self-exaltation. Christ died to give life to those who killed him, and in this he is glorified.

Are you able to trust in and give thanks for Jesus’ death on your behalf? How do you feel about God’s love being cruciform in shape? Is the Father’s love for the Son visible in the cross, or is this just divine child abuse? What does Jesus mean when he says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23)? Is the Father’s love for you as his adopted child visible in the cross you’re called to bear? How does this vision of God’s love shape your own love? Are there people in your life who do not receive the love of God through the cross of Christ? Can you imagine what their particular reservations might be?

 

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