The Wisdom And Necessity Of The Cross

The Wisdom And Necessity Of The Cross September 14, 2022

No artist listed: Love And The Cross / pxhere

In one sense, the cross didn’t have to happen. In another sense, it is a part of the eternal kenosis of God, and so is central to who God is. The cross wasn’t necessary for the sake of our salvation. God could have chosen other ways to save us, but each of those ways would not have been as fitting to who and what God is, for through them, God would have ended up imposing salvation upon us as act of divine omnipotence instead of showing us that salvation comes to us from God’s love. Thus, in and through the cross, God makes room for us to act for ourselves, choosing, in such a fashion, how we will act with God.

God is love, and the cross is the presentation of that love. The wisdom of God is revealed to be the wisdom of love. God’s wisdom is the way of love, not the way of a power which works to impose itself upon the world. The cross reveals the true glory of God, the glory of love, the self-giving sacrificial love which is at the heart of God. This love had  God create so that God could truly have an other to love, and as it is done in and through love, the other, creation, truly had to be set free.

The cross is salvific because it allows the darkness of sin to exhaust itself. Jesus willingly let himself be taken to the cross. Upon it, he suffered the blows of sin. By his great compassionate love and embrace of humanity, he allowed humanity to come together and focus upon him all their hate and anger, all their sorrow and disappointment. Jesus was able to take it all and more. What remained after sin had exhausted itself, Jesus welcomed to come to him so it could receive all the gifts and boons, all the grace and healing it needs. Once we accept that love for ourselves, we can be taken in by him, and rise up with him in glory.

“Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gets understanding, for the gain from it is better than gain from silver and its profit better than gold”  (Prov. 3:13-18 RSV).  God’s wisdom is mysteriously revealed to us on the cross. It is shown to be more precious than silver and gold because it offers us what silver and gold cannot, the glory of the kingdom of God. When we truly see the wisdom of the cross, when we truly understand it, we will embrace it for ourselves, which means, we will embrace the cross and its path, knowing that no matter how long and difficult that path is, we will be changed and made better by it. “She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called happy” (Prov. 3:18 RSV). Jesus has truly opened ourselves to the tree of life, restoring to us what we lost thanks to our sin. Such life, of course, must not be confused with mere temporal life; rather, what we are offered and promised is eternal life; by receiving it, we will be transformed so that we can transcend temporality and experience and participate in the eternal kingdom of God. And then, we shall see the cross, and Jesus on the cross, not in the temporal sense (in which the actions can be seen as being conditional and not necessary), but in the eternal sense, where we will understand how  it is related to God’s eternal love.

The wisdom of the cross also shows us more than this. We  see how the cross reverses the way many things appear to be; those who are in power, those who have embraced the will to power, might be able to execute it  to some degree, and yet, in the end, that power will be lost, as it is but temporal. Thus, even the power of sin, with the way it has put a sting upon death, is overcome by way of the cross. All those who engage oppression will have to overcome all the evil and defilement they have engaged in order to participate in the  glory of the kingdom of God. On the other hand, those who have been unjustly treated and oppressed, insofar as they have suffered such injustice, are shown through the cross that Jesus stands with and embraces them with his love. As Jesus is God, this means God is on their side. They will then have the choice to embrace the cross for themselves and embrace the way God wants to elevate them beyond their oppressors,  or to succumb to the logic of their oppressors and deny the grace and deification and glory God wants them to have. This is one of the many ways the words of the prophet Isaiah can be interpreted, where we are told the oppressors will find themselves made low, while the Zion of the Holy One of Israel will pass through hate and oppression to find themselves reigning with Jesus in his eternal reign:

The sons of those who oppressed you shall come bending low to you; and all who despised you shall bow down at your feet; they shall call you the City of the LORD, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.  Whereas you have been forsaken and hated, with no one passing through, I will make you majestic for ever, a joy from age to age. (Isa. 60:14-15 RSV).

This is also why it can be said that, “the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18 RSV). For the cross reveals the folly of sin, and those who continue to embrace sin, those who willingly engage ungodly hatred towards their neighbor, to the rest of creation, or to God, will find that they will undergo the consequences of that hate for themselves. They will truly experience the folly of their unlove. Thankfully, though, God has shown that the experience of sin can be brought to an end. Those who sin are not outside of God’s loving embrace. They too can and should find their place in the kingdom of God.  All they need to do is divest themselves of their unlove and embrace the cross, and the love which is revealed on it. If they do so, they shall be able to join in  and be with the Zion of the Holy One of Israel, reigning in glory with the rest of those who have overcome unlove and embraced love. They shall then understand the cross, and see its necessity lay in the love of God.

 

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