The Easter Cross

The road to the cross was long and bleak yet with sparks of light bursting through. Jesus spoke of his death often yet always with a promise of something spectacular to come. In the story of betrayal by Judas a moment of beautiful worship is also recorded balancing the positive with the negative. At a point in time when Jesus must have felt so alone along comes Mary with her jar of expensive perfume. Peter denies Jesus three times in the courtyard yet he was there – his attempt, however flawed, to be there with Jesus. Even in the face of fear and certain death Jesus gathered with his friends around a table in Jerusalem – the heart of the lion’s den.
Imagine for a moment if Pilate had listened to his wife who told him to have nothing to do with Jesus. Imagine if Pilate had said no to the crucifixion…there would be no cross. Even Pilate had to carry a cross for God.
Sometimes we must pass through the valley of the shadow of death before we can witness God’s awesome power and love. For when we hit rock bottom and allof the world appears at least to have turned its back on us, God is still there. To know joy we must know suffering. To know love we must know hate. To know life we must know death.
Yet even in death God is there. He never leaves us nor abandons us. Jesus may have felt abandoned by God on the cross for there is only so much the human form can take. Jesus understands the absence of God – those times when we wonder if God is even present.
Yet even in death God was there – as creation herself mourned the death of her creator in the earthquake and the sky. Human religion – a structure built upon the premise of God was torn in two as the curtain split. All mourned the death of Jesus on the cross as did we on Friday night.
Yet the cross is the heart of the story – an important part without a doubt. We cannot follow Christ without taking up our cross and following the plan God has for each and every one of us. But we are not called to carry our cross alone…
Jesus needed the help of others with his cross and he too helps us carry ours. Mary helped to carry Jesus’ cross with her perfume. Simon of Cyrene carried the physical cross. Peter help to carry the cross with his loyalty for with his sword and in his tears was the gift of loyalty. We too helped Jesus to carry his cross as we remembered that fateful day.
However if we believe that we must carry the cross we must also believe in the resurrection for why else would we even contemplate carrying the cross.
The cross is a promise fulfilled
– a gift of redemption offered willingly and without prejudice to the whole world.
A gift of life – not earned with good works, martyrdom or money but a gift given to all who would recognise that God is the one true God and there are no others like him.
A gift of hope – that this is not all there is. Yes like Jesus we are called to make better what we have through sharing the gifts of the spirit, healing the sick, bringing good news to the poor, reaching out with hands of justice and love. This world is not to be left to go to rack and ruin but rather to be enhanced by all who have witnessed God’s great love for us.
We hold onto the cross as the symbol of our faith because the cross reminds us that the path we are called to walk, the narrow way is a path that may be littered with suffering, stress, frustration and betrayal but it is also scattered along this path is light, peace and life.
We celebrate an empty tomb with an empty cross. We look to Jesus and know that the marks are still on his hands and feet – an eternal reminder of his gift of life.
Will people see the nail marks in our hands and feet and know that we too have received the gift of life, and that we too carry our cross?
Without the resurrection there is no hope, no peace, no life. Without the resurrection all is for nowt and there is no point to any of this. Without the resurrection there is no eternal refuge for any of us.
But with the resurrection there is hope, peace and life. The Fall as we understand it separated us from God and there was nothing we could do by ourselves to fix it. God himself rewrote the rule book in our favour and made it possible for us – creatures made from dust to once again experience the fullness of the divine relationship.
Jesus was able to lay down his cross as he left the tomb. We too will lay down our cross when we leave the tomb. But until then we live confidently as Jesus did knowing that it will be worth every heartache, every struggle, every moment of joy to walk once again in the garden with God.

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