A LENTEN ADVENTURE for 2024: He Chose The Nails - Part 9, The Gift of The Cross

A LENTEN ADVENTURE for 2024: He Chose The Nails - Part 9, The Gift of The Cross

A LENTEN ADVENTURE for 2024 - Wednesday March 27


Let’s read the following Bible verses to start today’s reflection:

John 3:16 says: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Romans 5:8 says: “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

1 John 4:10 says: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

Frequently – just last night, for example – people have a hard time pronouncing my name:  Beverly.  On occasion, they can pronounce it correctly right away:  B-e-v-e-r-l-y.  But sometimes, people get confused and call me “Bervely”, or “Beth”, or “Bed”, or “Ber”.  I’ve also been called “Kimberley”.  I sometimes wonder: what if I had kept my maiden name when I got married?  If “Beverly” is complicated, how would people have handled “Unterweger”?

I struggle with being merciful with those that mispronounce my name.  But I also want to be accurate.  I want to be kind, but I also want to be honest.  How can I be both at the same time? 

“On an infinitely grander scale, God faces with humankind what I faced with people who mispronounce my name.  How can He be both just and kind? How can He dispense truth and mercy?  How can He redeem the sinner without endorsing the sin?  Can a holy God overlook our mistakes?  Can a kind God punish our mistakes?  From our perspective there are only two equally unappealing solutions.  But from His perspective there is a third.  It’s called ‘the Cross of Christ’”. (ML)

“The cross. Can you turn any direction without seeing one? Perched atop a chapel.  Carved into a graveyard headstone.  Engraved on a ring or suspended on a chain.  The cross is the universal symbol of Christianity.  An odd choice, don’t you think?  Strange that a tool of torture would come to embody a movement of hope.  The symbols of other faiths are more upbeat: the six-pointed star of David, the crescent moon of Islam, a lotus blossom for Buddhism.  Yet a cross for Christianity?  An instrument of execution?  Would you wear a tiny electric chair around your neck?  Suspend a gold-plated hangman’s noose on the wall?  Would you print a picture of a firing squad on a business card?  Yet we do so with the cross.” (ML)

“Why is the cross the symbol of our faith?  To find the answer look no further than the cross itself.  It’s design couldn’t be simpler.  One beam horizontal  -- the other vertical.  One reaches out – like God’s love.  The other reaches up – as does God’s holiness.  One represents the width of His love; the other reflects the height of His holiness.  The cross is the intersection.  The cross is where God forgave His children without lowering His standards.   How could He do this? In a sentence: God put our sin on His Son and punished it there.” (ML)

2 Corinthians 5:21 says: “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”

“Envision the moment.  God on His throne.  You on the earth. And between you and God, suspended between you and heaven, is Christ on His cross. Your sins have been placed on Jesus.  God, who punishes sin, releases his rightful wrath on your mistakes.  Jesus receives the blow.  Since Christ is between you and God, you don’t.   The sin is punished, but you are safe –  safe in the shadow of the cross …” (ML)

“Besides, consider what He did. He gave His Son. His only Son.  Would you do that?  Would you offer the life of your child for someone else?  I wouldn’t.  There are some for whom I would give my life.  But ask me to make me a list of those for whom I would kill my daughter? The sheet will be blank.  I don’t need a pencil.  The list has no names.  But God’s list contains the name of every person who ever lived.  For this is the scope of His love.  And this is the reason for the cross.  He loves the world.” (ML)

How wide is God’s love?  Wide enough to include the rich, the poor, the famous, the unknown, the thin, the fat, the young and the old, the Africans, the Europeans, the Latin Americans, etc.  “‘For God so loved the world …’  How wide is God’s love?  Wide enough for the whole world?  Are you included in the world?  Then you are included in God’s love … When asked to describe the width of His love, He stretched one hand to the right and the other to the left and had them nailed in that position so you would know He died loving you.” (ML)

“But isn’t there a limit?  Surely there has to be an end to this love …” (ML)  But Moses the assassin never found it.  Jacob the deceiver never found it.  “David the adulterer never found it.  Paul the murderer never found it.  Peter the liar never found it.  When it came to life, they hit bottom.  But when it came to God’s love they never did.”  (ML)

“They, like you, found their names on God’s list of love.  And you can be certain that the One who put it there knows how to pronounce it.”  (ML)