The cross is brutal. The intensity of nails being driven through the hands and feet of any individual presents an incomprehensibly ugly scene. Especially when that one is the Son of God. Our twenty-first century sensibilities cannot take it. So, we tend to turn our heads. We cannot bear to look. The blood flowed. We do not like that. We flinch. We recoil. We avoid it. Or, at least try to. We cannot. It is at the very center of our faith.
We are scandalized at the notion of such a barbaric act. How could anyone possibly participate in it? A lengthy string of instigators was involved; jealous religious leaders, a stirred-up mob and a spineless government official. The atmosphere was electric. They all joined forces in the oddest coalition of conspirators imaginable. No one could have ever guessed who was behind it all.
Ridicule and cruelty ruled the day, or so it seemed. An innocent man was subjected to the most inhumane treatment conceivable. From the spit in His face to the crown of thorns on His head, He was totally humiliated. His prophetic role was mocked and His back was whipped to a bloody pulp. Then they crucified Him, a joke of a Savior in their mind. He could not even save Himself. The Messianic wannabe had been dealt with once and for all. Even His once-loyal associates abandoned Him, and the master-mind of it all got His way.
It stretches our minds beyond their boundaries to think that this was the plan of God. The cross brings into clear focus how horrible sin is in His eyes. We have been conditioned to think of it in modern terms not His. The world presents it as attractive and desirable. From the beginning The Lord has described it in much more graphic ways that always end in death for the participant. It is truly a matter of life and death, and the cross makes that clear.
It took the most radical act in history to solve our most devastating problem, and that presents the other dimension of the cross; the immensity of the love of God. Humanity was in trouble. The dilemma was universal, and the consequences were eternal. It had a stranglehold on His once-perfect creation. In a move that defies comprehension, a baby was born. He was the perfect missionary sent to bring healing to a broken world.
As the world turns a brief eye at this time of year toward the birth of the Savior, let us never forget His purpose. Lights are pretty and presents are fun, but Jesus came to save us. He was born on a path to the cross. His steps took Him from the wrong side of the tracks to the heart of religion. His journey eventually led to that brutal showdown. Sin and love collided that day on a cross. Love won.