Conversations around the Gospel of Luke, ch. 24:13-35 Do you ever wonder why these two unnamed disciples decided to go back home? They were walking away from the biggest event in history. And Jesus was good enough to go after them, not let them wander off with their unanswered questions. They had already heard something about the empty tomb. They said as much, “Some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body.” But evidently the whole idea of the Messiah suffering and dying just didn’t make sense to them. The cross was an ugly exclamation point at the end of their hopes for what Jesus was going to be. That’s why Jesus addressed them quite bluntly, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” It was all about that ugly cross. It just didn’t make sense.
It doesn’t easily make sense to many people today either. It just seems so archaic. The Son of God gets murdered by some puny Roman governor. What difference can that make for a man or woman in the age of smartphones? We church goers are so familiar with the picture, the theme of God’s love, the victory of the empty tomb, Jesus standing with them in the upper room, all that. But this picture is full of holes for a lot of people. Let me just add one piece of that meaning, the one that has opened up for me while interviewing people in recent years. I’ve listened to a lot of stories of suffering and stories of people whose loved ones were suffering. I’ve come to see the cross, the long hours of Jesus’ pain meaning something besides the more common themes that get preached and taught. Salvation through his sacrifice, forgiveness, the price paid, “all we like sheep have gone astray,.. and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” That is all good and right. But there are other messages in the cross that we need to hear, that I need to hear at some times.
This is a very messy world. God seems to have taken some big chances when he gave us free will, that is, free enough to make a mess of it. And countless people blame God when their lives turn into pain avenues. Others just give up on God completely. That’s why I think God took the risky strategy of getting into this world himself, in the form of Jesus. Perhaps God could never forgive himself, or be forgiven by us for creating a world of such awful possibilities if the Creator had not also chosen to inhabit that world with us. So the Divine One made an eternal choice to be incarnated into flesh, into pain, into bloody love, as a pact with suffering humankind. “That is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself…” (I Cor. 5:19). That helps me make sense of the Cross. Any time or place where my road gets rocky- I know he’s already walked that path. Isaiah put it, “With his wounds we are healed.” The cross is God’s marvelous and risky strategy to change the world. And I love God for taking that step for me, and for all of us.