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     This Week's Focus: "The View from the Cross"
       Click the link for Luke 22:14-23:56

 
























 






 
Dear Friends,

As it does every spring, our journey towards Resurrection brings us first to the cross. And in this account of that ultimate sacrifice, the Jesus of Luke’s Passion is markedly different from the persona portrayed by the other evangelists. In Mark and Matthew, an agonized, very human Jesus is abandoned and battling despair. In John, a divine Jesus is self-possessed and in total control throughout his ordeal. In contrast, the Jesus of Luke’s gospel is clearly the Son of God become our brother, struggling then triumphing over doubt and fear. In this week’s gospel, our brother Jesus is tested and tormented while he preserves his serenity by clinging to his mission to serve the will of the Father.

C.S. Lewis captured this duality when he described this Passion as: “The perfect surrender and humiliation undergone by Christ: perfect because he was God, surrender, and humiliation because he was man.” To say this is a difficult concept to understand and accept is beyond understatement. Why the cross? The human Jesus clearly wished he were somewhere else. The divine Jesus didn’t have to show up. He could have phoned in our redemption.

The answer is clearly seen in the transformational power of the cross…from an instrument of torture to the transcendent symbol of love. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son. What evil has ever existed or ever will exist that cannot be overwhelmed by the cross? What sacrilege, what obscenity, what betrayal overshadows the love that hung Jesus on the cross? Christ crucified is the “Big Bang” of God’s grace. The reverberations still carry down the centuries to generations yet unborn.

And yet for a moment, it all hung by a thread. In Gethsemane, sweating blood in anticipation of literally shedding his last drop of blood, Jesus asks: Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done. The Father’s answer comes in the form of an angel, who almost like a corner man in a prize fight, coached him and gave him strength. The angel helps the very human Jesus to his feet and sends him resolutely forward into the ordeal.

While his trials, the scourging, the crown of thorns and the cross, all await, the critical point has been passed. The human and divine natures of Jesus are inextricably bound as one with the will of the Father. The tested Jesus will be the tranquil Jesus because he is the trusting Jesus. And in the end, he is the triumphant Jesus, who can confidently proclaim: Father into your hands I commend my spirit.

The Crucifix… the persona of the crucified Christ is one of the world’s most familiar images. Far less familiar is James Tissot’s painting entitled: “What Jesus Saw from the Cross.” The perspective is a Christ’s eye-view from the cross… of Mary kneeling in anguish… of disciples fleeing in fear… of cynics smirking in satisfaction… of Roman soldiers bored by another afternoon of savagery.

While there is a hint of horizon in the composition, it is very much the view of the human Jesus in the moment, rather than the divine Jesus looking past the Passion to endless generations walking with him in The Way of Love.

Inherent in all the moving accounts of Christ’s “Seven Last Words,” there is a single unspoken word that we should make our own. That word is “Yes.” Yes, I can. Yes, I will. Your love has changed my life, Lord. I am yours.

Broken in body, but not in soul, Jesus, our brother, our God, calls us to the cross. When our lives answer “Yes,” the cross… the tool of his execution… becomes our ladder to heaven. Both God and Man, Christ died for us that we may have eternal life. We are saved. We are forgiven.

We are on The Way of Love. We need only answer, accept and live our redemption. Through his life, death, and Resurrection Jesus has taught us to trust him… to walk with him through our own doubts and disappointments… through our fears and falls. And that requires that we forgive, we love and we help others as Jesus has forgiven, loves and helps us. That’s the view from the cross. And it’s beautiful. 

God love you!


 

A Reflection for 
Palm Sunday
©The Reverend Canon David F. Sellery

 
Copyright © 2019 David Sellery, All rights reserved.


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