Understanding the Cross
I’ve struggled in the past to understand the cross. Part of that struggle is because so many of the theologies about the cross twist Christianity into something toxic.
The cross is used as a way to shame people into not sinning, “because look at all Jesus did for you.” Some use the cross to turn God into a villain, pit the Father against the Son, or present suffering and death as something good. Even one of my favorite Easter hymns, "In Christ Alone," speaks about the wrath of God being satisfied.
Jesus’s passion and death redeems us, not from the anger of a wrathful God, but from sin and death.
In his passion and death, Jesus experienced the violence of human sinfulness, participating fully in fallen humanity. When you reflect on the brutality that humanity is guilty of, the brutality of the cross begins to make sense.
He died my death, suffered the consequence of my sin, and then destroyed my death by rising from the grave. And he did all of that knowing full well the sins I’ve already committed, and the sins I will commit tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.
In this story suffering and death are nothing other than the natural consequence of sin and a fallen world. It's not something God gives us or desires us to have. Period. Otherwise God is not good.
The cross is a sign that God took the worst suffering this world has to offer, defeated it, and used it for glorification.
The wounds on Jesus' resurrected body mock suffering and death because these inevitable realities we all experience are now the vehicles of healing and transformation. The cross is a sign of hope, hope that God will bring some greater good from the violence of this world. And by uniting our sufferings to the cross, we are claiming this hope for ourselves in whatever circumstances we find ourselves in.
Christ’s passion was an act of solidarity with our fallen humanity in order to raise up that fallen humanity up to divinity.
Jesus's death didn't satisfy the Father's wrath, it fully revealed God's love for each of us.