Efficacy of the Cross

     The death on the Cross subdued the power of the devil, who is the cause of suffering. The Christian message guides us to look through the cross and behold the higher purpose of God. The cross here becomes not a painful end, but a window, an icon, through which we see God’s purpose. The higher purpose of God is to save us from eternal death to restore us to our first rank, and to live forever. Through it we see the purpose of God who works not in spite of suffering but through suffering. The cross became the symbol of redemption and salvation, that through it the love of God revealed to us. Through the cross Christ trampled death, broke through the bonds of death freeing us with Him. He has taken the bitterness of death and converted it to joy and salvation. “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” (I Cor. 15:55)

     Through the cross, the ultimate love of God was revealed to us. The righteous is dying for the sinners … the innocent is dying for the guilty. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13) The essential significance of the Crucifixion is summed up in the words of Saint Athanasius:  “It was fitting for the Lord to spread out His Hands as one would hold his hands for an embrace . . . with one outstretched arm He might draw the ancient people (the Jews), and with the other the Gentiles, to unite both in Him. This is what He said by Himself, signifying by what death He would die to redeem us, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” (John 12:32)

The Cross in our lives

     What we may perceive as suffering is firstly a reflection of God’s love portrayed on the Cross, and secondly an opportunity for the glory of God to be revealed in our lives. Since the suffering of the Cross is no longer for the wicked but a path to go as Disciples of Christ. In this path we no longer fear but anticipate the joy of sharing in Christ’s suffering. Many passages predict the kind of life we are to expect. “Go your way, behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves” (Luke 10:3)… “And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake” (Luke 21:17)… “You will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy” (John 16:20)… “The time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service” (John 16:2). At no time did our Lord promise a trouble free life but rather He warned, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).  

     It was to the cross that Christ came. As a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, He bore the world’s anguishes, grieves and sorrows (Isaiah 53:3,4),  and asked us to follow Him in this path saying, “take up the cross, and follow Me.” (Mark 10:21 ; Matthew 16:24 ; Luke 14:27). This suggests that Christ can be found in the path of suffering. Christ walking in the path of suffering empowers those who are found walking with Him. Paradoxically, His presence converts the gloom of suffering into a certain kind of peace and joy. Those who walk through life searching for a meaning to it will not find it except on the Cross. St. Paul would have it no other way but to proclaim the Crucified Christ, “I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1Cor. 2:2). St. James confirms that, one could find joy in suffering if walked with Christ, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials” (James 1:2).

     In denying the reality of pain and suffering that was caused by Christ’s crucifixion, one looses the meaning to life. Why? Sin and evil produce pain and suffering. Those who deny that there is pain, deny the existence of evil that causes the pain. This line of thinking falls under the modern philosophy of relativism. Relativism states that all that occurs is by chance or by personal interpretation, for there exists neither evil, nor good. These people give an example of their proposal that there is no evil in murder or in rape, but an incident that occurred by chance. It is clear that this philosophy of relativism will soon lead to misdirection and a greater interest in existentialism. People will become morally unethical and ethically neutral since there is no evil or pain. When immorality prevails, Neurotic reasoning will fail to answer basic questions of identity, “who am I, what is my destiny, why am I alive.” Modern days’ man will never find the answer to suffering unless he admits the truth of the pain that the Crucified Christ endures. Until then suffering and pain will confuse, distract and disappoint the people of the world.