“…he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!” – Philippians 2:8
We call today “Good Friday.” We remember a dark day. The day Jesus died on the cross, humbling himself to a humiliating and extremely painful experience. It can be hard to see anything good about it.
I have heard criticism for wearing the cross as a piece of jewelry or on an article of clothing. The criticism makes sense, we are wearing an ancient torture device that resulted in death for its victims. The cross is ugly. The day is dark.
We know from scripture that Jesus on the cross was God’s greatest revelation of who he is. It was an act of love towards humanity collectively and individually. In Jesus Christ displayed on an ugly criminal’s cross, there is beauty in the depth of love God has for each of us, saying that having a relationship with us is worth the pain of the cross.
Over two thousand years ago, God declared clearly just how much he loves us and how far he will go to save us from sin and Satan. Max Lucado says it like this: “The maker of the stars would rather die for you than live without you.”
The cross is everything. God’s very heart for humanity hung on a cross.
Jesus looks at the cross and says it is worth it.
“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people. When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, ‘Surely he was the Son of God!’”– Matthew 27:50-55
The victory cannot contain itself, even for three days. Darkness and earthquakes make those present know that this was no ordinary man, so declared by the Roman Centurian.
The curtain in the temple tearing in two claims victory over sin and Satan that would keep us forever separated from our loving creator; The presence of God let out of religious confines to flood the world it loves so much. PEOPLE rose from the dead! It was as if death itself had been shown its true place- that it would have no lasting victory.
We have the privilege of knowing that the resurrection victory is coming, but that victory was won on the cross. Only to be proven three days later. Jesus won a decisive victory, declaring, “It is finished.”
“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”- Philippians 2:9-11
I wear a small silver cross necklace quite often. I am aware of the ugliness of the cross, but I also see the beauty in the love displayed on it.
And isn’t that exactly the transformative work our God does? His upside-down kingdom takes the ugliness of the world and of us and transforms it into something that declares truth, goodness, love, grace, and beauty.