the shame of the cross

I posted this around Easter last year and am sharing it again this Good Friday.

—–

I know a lot about shame.  There have been times in my life when it has been my most intimate companion.  I bet you could say the same.  I know you’ve probably got trophies on your shelves or diplomas on your walls.  There are smiling photos of you hanging in frames and filling your computer. All these declare you’re happy, accomplished, confident.  But they don’t tell the full story, do they?  Because of the fall, we live among a people who have their own unique combination of arrogance and insecurity and selfishness masking things like fear, guilt, and shame that consume from within.  And the truth is that even those of us who are redeemed are not exempt from continuing to experience a portion of it (but only for a little while longer).

The glory and the mystery of the cross is that One worthy of exalting Himself chose humility instead.  He demonstrated a meekness that takes my breath away.  Our Creator left splendor and stooped to kneel by taking on human skin.  When He endured the cross, He crouched with His mouth to the dust.  He actually became a curse (Galatians 3:13).  Our Savior was naked before the critical eyes of Roman soldiers and His own kinsmen.  The fact that they had no right to condemn Him did not remove their scornful stares. The Messiah who could have unmade them all submitted to the most disgraceful death possible and the agony of separation from His Father. Jesus embraced the crushing weight of sin and humiliation that we would do anything not to feel.  He bore it for us so we could be clean. He made a way to call us His sisters and brothers (Hebrews 2:11).  He did it so that you and I could run into the throne room of our Dad.

The apparent shamelessness of the world system is a garish attempt to disguise the shame inside.  It never works.  The Accuser whispers that we can never be pure or whole, that our case is just too extreme.  The earth-shattering wisdom of God is that He overcame the shame originating from the fall by humbly receiving it.  It isn’t the way you or I would have fought.  It is the last weapon we would have chosen.  And it was the only one that could ever have succeeded.  Royalty in a feeding trough… a King on a cross…a Creator who dies to save His creation:  God’s wisdom is like nothing I’ve ever known.  And it is the only thing that could have saved us.

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law having become a curse for us–for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”–in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” (Galatians 3:13-14).

“Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.  For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God.  But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption…” (I Corinthians 1:25-30)

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