The message of the cross, St Paul tells us is foolishness to those who are perishing . . .
The problem many of have as Christians is that it is foolishness to us also . . .
As we considered yesterday, ‘The key element . . . that sets Christian faith apart, is its understanding of God.
As The former Archbishop of Canterbury, the late Michael Ramsey said, God is Christlike, in God there is no unChristlikeness as all. So as we see Jesus, we must thus reshape our understanding of God.’
Those of us who deep down want a God worthy of us, a God who is little more than a projection of what we think to be our best attributes, our strength, our power, our Careful Love given to the deserving, our Intelligence etc etc – have to deal with the awkward fact of Jesus of Nazareth, and his complete and utter humiliation upon a Roman Cross.
There are two common tricks we employ to dodge Jesus, one is the ploy of ignoring the plain teaching of the church down through 2000 years and saying in effect, when we look at him we do not see his divinity. His humanity is as it were a mask – his divinity is hidden. This is an old heresy and one which we return to in one form or another every day.
We find it all but impossible to accept that the humanity of Jesus perfectly reveals his divinity, that there is NO contradiction – we wait for The Real Jesus to step out from behind the curtain, the ‘God’ we secretly longed for.
The second trick of course is to ignore the Jesus’ way of being – how he refuses to save the world by Good Works, by not resisting evil but by allowing himself to be given over into the hands of sinful humanity.
Both ‘tricks’ are of course ways of ignoring the call of this Galilean fisherman to follow him in the way of vulnerability, in the way of Love. The way of the Cross we will leave to Jesus, he can do the dying bit and then ‘Abracadabra’ we can enjoy Easter as the Real Jesus makes himself known
When we come to Good Friday – it is good to stop there as long as possible, hour after hour after hour – to hear deep within ourselves, ‘This is your God’ – bleeding and dying, giving himself for the Love of those who hung him there.
The rush to Resurrection is a sure sign that we haven’t yet accepted that what we see in Jesus’ humanity is the perfect expression of our Strange God, that he is a stranger to us, that the way of the Cross is foolishness to Us . . .