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April 2, 2015, 12:22 PM

A Brief Meditation on the Cross and Resurrection

Prompted by the third chapter of Job

Job’s cursing of his own birth betrays an anger and despair at his circumstances turned inward rather than outward.  Job refuses to curse God, but it does not stop him from cursing himself.  Grief has overwhelmed him.  He is immersed in suffering – and yet God does not censure him.  God allows these cries of anguish and self-recrimination not because they are inherently good or healthy, but because they are real.  Trapped in our own limited vision of the world, and even of God, we cannot help but grieve.  At times, perhaps, we cannot help but wonder whether it might not have been better to have died before this present misery. 

Joy should not, indeed it cannot, be discovered by denying reality, but by transcending it!  At its heart, Jesus’ resurrection illustrates this principle.  Jesus experienced the depths of human suffering – mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually (Hebrews 4:15).  He did not shy from it.  He never once shielded Himself from the ugly terror of sin, death and hell.  On the contrary, Jesus “became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:8).” The cross was a form of execution cruelly designed to magnify not only physical suffering, often stretching the death process out for days at a time, but mental anguish and public humiliation as well.    It was not by escaping this reality that our Lord rescued us, but by graciously entering it.  Only then did the Father raise Him in victory, “exalting Him and bestowing upon Him the name that is above every name (Philippians 2:9).”  All of this Jesus did “for the joy that was set before Him (Hebrews 12:2),” but He did not avoid our misery.  In freely entering our brokenness and suffering, Jesus ultimately transcends it – and in Him, so can you and I.

During this holy season, let us not deny the reality of human suffering, vainly pretending as though it were some sort of wicked delusion.  Suffering is our reality.  Let us then face it fully, emboldened by the vision of our Lord, crucified and risen, “the Pioneer and Perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).”  Only in this way can we know the true heights of transcendent joy - when we join our Savior in embracing the bitter experience of authentic suffering with those around us.


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