An issue of thorns


“I could never myself believe in God, if it were not for the cross. The only God I believe in is the one Nietzsche ridiculed as “God on the Cross.” In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it? I have entered many Buddhist temples and stood respectfully before the statue of Buddha, his legs crossed, arms folded, eyes closed, the ghost of a smile playing round his mouth, a remote look on his face, detached from the agonies of the world. But each time after a while I have had to turn away. And in imagination I have turned instead to that lonely, twisted, tortured figure on the cross, nails through hands and feet, back lacerated, limbs wrenched, brow bleeding from thorn-pricks, mouth dry and intolerably thirsty, plunged in God-forsaken darkness. That is the God for me! He laid aside his immunity to pain. He entered our world of flesh and blood, tears and death. He suffered for us.”     John Stott

It is all about Jesus.

The reason I live in joy when surrounded by unjoy is Jesus

My thinking was transformed by the power of his love.

My tongue tamed by his refining fire.

My life surrendered because he surrendered his.

He is perfect (was, is and will be). Perfect in every way and yet he died for me. He allowed his kingly arms to be nailed to a cross. He submitted to the pain and torture of barbaric proportions in order to be a Saviour for all – including me.

He could have waltzed through those 30+ years on earth without feeling, without touching and being touched. He could have come with a long list of do’s and don’ts and imprisoned or zapped anyone who did not comply. He could have come on a golden chariot emblazoned with the most precious of stones. He could have come anyway he chose and yet he chose to come in vulnerability as a child to be born of Mary.

He chose a path that led him into conflict with the religious systems around him. This journey allowed many of the most outcast to meet with God. There were the ill like Peter’s mother-in-law, the foreigners like the woman he met at the well, people with disabilities, people with leprosy, people with mental health issues, tax collectors, prostitutes, children, women. He met them all. He touched and was touched. He cared, he loved, he modelled compassion.

When I look at the cross, I see grace in abundance flowing down to all humanity from God above. I see love poured out and mercy drenching the soil. I see God who entered into human life to save human life. I see hope and I see us. A band of believers all around the world modelling his life in thought, word and deed. I see life, everlasting.