Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Cross (as in the Cross of Christ) (08/17/06)
TITLE: Cross Purposes
By Donna Powers
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I am the cross where Jesus died. Take a good look at me.
I suppose you could blame me for Jesus’ death, but that wouldn’t really be fair. After all, do you blame the gun, or the shooter; for a death by shotgun?
If you look at me, you’ll see the cross He died on. And yes, I know, it caused Him pain to hang on my wooden arms. I heard Him cry out in pain. I heard Him call out to His Father. I know He died in agony, and that I was the object that led to it.
But take another look; a closer look, and I think you’ll see that I was part of God’s message to the world. God sent Jesus to be His Word: to be the Way that He could best communicate His unending love and mercy for the world. And every part of Jesus’ life was part of that communication. And I was a big part of the last day of that life. So take another look at me.
One of my pieces of wood stretches downward from heaven, and ends by touching the earth. Just like the One Who hung there; it is the bridge extending between God and His creation.
My other piece of wood stretches outward; like the arms of the One Who wanted to enfold the world in God’s love. It is a picture of the way that He reaches out to all who open their heart to Him.
My beams are fashioned in four directions: north, south, east and west. That’s how far His love and grace reach. That’s how far His mercy extends. There is a limit to the length of my beams, but there is no limit to His love.
I didn’t ask to be a cross, you know. Someone chose to make me into one. I could have been part of a house, or part of a cart. I could have warmed someone, in a fire. I could have been part of an idol or part of an altar. But someone decided I’d be a cross. His cross.
To hang on a cross meant to die in disgrace. Only criminals who were considered beneath contempt were executed in this way, but it wasn’t a coincidence that God’s Son was put to death in this way. Jesus not only took the world’s sin upon Himself; He also took the disgrace of that sin. All those things that everyone’s done; that they think are too shameful or secret to share with anyone else? He sees those things, yet chose to die for you. He knows those things, and loves you anyway.
Jesus used His hands to heal, and to bring people together. Yet those Hands were wounded with painful nails. They were made temporarily powerless by weapons that were familiar to Him. Did it ever cause you to wonder how He felt: a Carpenter Who was wounded by nails? He knew from the start what His fate would be; did He think of this, as a young man, while He was fashioning things with nails and wood?
Jesus used his feet to walk long distances, and to meet people that others considered to be outcasts and sinners. Yet He came to show them the Way to heaven, and His feet gathered the dust of the many towns that rejected His truths. Those feet were also pierced by nails; He felt the pain of death from head to toe.
I couldn’t do anything to help Him, but it wasn’t because He was powerless. The Son of God later rose from the shell of His earthly corpse; to glorious New Life at God’s right Hand. But His death was also part of the plan, and as much as it seemed wrong to me – this death of the Innocent – I had to play the part that destiny had carved, for me.
So look at me. But don’t me as the cause of His death. See me as the object that helped Him fulfill His destiny, and provide the entire world with a Way to access God’s Grace.
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