There’s an ancient tradition in these islands of erecting crosses at important places: in the towns, and along the highways and byways. People would gather at those crosses to hear monks preaching about the wonderful news that had reached these shores.
Today we come again to stand by a cross, to hear the good news that is still cutting edge, to hear the greatest message that it’s possible to hear.
At the cross, we hear truth. Truth about the world. Truth about ourselves. Truth about God. All other worldviews are false, but at the cross we find truth, we find Jesus – the only way to God. In the end, all other worldviews simply reduce down to a striving after some sort of morality. Morality might keep us out of jail, but only the cross of Jesus can keep us out of hell.
Coming to Jesus and his cross is all about being saved from eternal death for eternal life through his death and resurrection.
There’s another tradition in this country. The tradition of wearing a cross around one’s neck. I heard of someone who went into a jeweller’s shop asking for a cross. When asked what sort they wanted, they insisted that they wanted one with that strange little man on it.
It is strange, isn’t it? It’s as strange as someone wearing a set of gallows around their neck, or perhaps someone who wears a little model of an electric chair. Like the gallows or the electric chair, the truth is that the cross was an instrument of execution.
Jesus gladly went to that place of execution for us. As the nails were going in, we were his consolation. As he drew his last breath, he was thinking of us.
We owe a debt which we cannot pay, and Jesus, on the cross, paid a debt that he didn’t owe. For us. For us, so that our slate can be wiped clean. So that, through the love of God in Jesus shown on that cross, forgiveness, joy, and eternal life is right there for us, if we accept the gift. So let’s come to Christ today.
Come to the cross of violence, which is the key to peace. Come to the cross of suffering, which is the key to healing. Come to the cross of death, which is the key to life. Come to the cross of weakness, which is the key to power. Come to the cross of punishment, which is the key to mercy and forgiveness. Come to the cross of vicious hatred, which is the key to love.
The Revd Matthew Firth
Northern Diocesan Church Planter