Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Quotes on the Cross, part 2

What was once used as a means of torture stands as the central image of the Christian faith. The Cross. There is no doubt that as a Christian living 2,000 years removed from this event, the horror of the cross is lost on me. I simply view it as the place my savior died. But for those living at the time of Jesus, to glory in the cross would be to glory in torture and the end of life. It would be sickening. It would be humiliating. It would be inhumane.

The quote for today is from John Stott's classic work, The Cross of Christ, and it explains some of the madness of the symbol of the cross.
"The Christians' choice of a cross as the symbol of their faith is more surprising when we remember the horror with which crucifixion was regarded in the ancient world. We can understand why Paul's 'message of the cross' was to many of his listeners 'foolishness,' even 'madness' (1 Cor 1:18, 23). How could any sane person worship as a god a dead man who had been justly condemned as a criminal and subjected to the most humiliating form of execution This combination of death, crime and shame put him beyond the pale of respect, let alone worship. Crucifixion . . . is probably the most cruel method of execution ever practiced, for it deliberately delayed death until maximum torture had been inflicted. The victim could suffer for days before dying . . . The fact that a cross became the Christian symbol, and that Christians stubbornly refused, in spite of the ridicule, to discard it in favor of something less offensive, can have only one explanation. It means that the centrality of the cross originated in the mind of Jesus himself. It was out of loyalty to him that his followers clung so doggedly to this sign . . . What are we justified in saying about Jesus' perspective on his own death? Beyond question he knew that it was going to happen--not in the sense that all of us know we will have to die one day, but in the sense that he would meet a violent, premature, yet purposive death." (29-35)

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