Holy Week 2014--Good Friday

The sermon I heard today asked "what does the cross mean to you?"

For me, it is a symbol of suffering and humiliation.  To die that way--in pain, slowly, in the sight of everyone--is one of the worst ways I can think of to die.  Perhaps there are ways that are as bad, but I have hard time coming up with something worse.

But it is not simply the brutality of the death, though it is brutal.  It is also the humiliating way that it was carried out.  Pilate placed "The King of the Jews" on top of the cross not as a confession of faith but as a sign of contempt for an oppressed people under his rule--if your "king" would die in this lowly way, think how low the rest of you are.  His own people scorned and mocked him.  His Apostles ran away.  The only people that were present to witness His death were women, who were worth little at that time.

And yet, Jesus picked that way to die.  He could have come at a different time, and suffered a different death.  He could have gone out in an easier way.  But He didn't.  He accepted death in this brutal, horrifying, and humiliating fashion.

To me, He accepted the cross for the same reason He accepted becoming incarnate--to show us that our Creator is truly in solidarity with us.  God is not a distant, impersonal force that created us once and then leaves us adrift.  He walks beside us, and we know this because He walked the paths we walk.  Laughed when we laugh.  Cried when we cried.

The cross is the ultimate sign of that solidarity, because it shows that the solidarity is total.  Jesus walks with us even in the ultimate places of human evil and suffering.  There is no place we can go, no experience we can have, no trial we can face that Jesus has not already been to.  He understands what we go through, because He went through it as well.  We can be tempted to think that we are alone in our suffering, that no one could ever understand what we are going through.  The cross reminds us that Jesus understands.

That's what the cross means to me.

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