5 augusti 2016

#412. The signs of the cross…

The crucifixion is the touchstone of Christian authenticity, the unique feature by which everything else, including the resurrection, is given its true significance. The resurrection is not a set piece. It is not an isolated demonstration of divine dazzlement. It is not to be detached from its abhorrent first act. The resurrection is, precisely, the vindication of a man who was crucified. Without the cross at the center of the Christian proclamation, the Jesus story can be treated as just another story about a charismatic spiritual figure. It is the crucifixion that marks out Christianity as something definitively different in the history of religion. It is in the crucifixion that the nature of God is truly revealed. Since the resurrection is God’s mighty transhistorical Yes to the historically crucified Son, we can assert that the crucifixion is the most important historical event that has ever happened. The resurrection, being a transhistorical event planted within history, does not cancel out the contradiction and shame of the cross in this present life; rather the resurrection ratifies the cross as the way ’until he comes.’ […]

The fact that the English word ’witness’ is, in Greek, the same as the word ’martyr’ is a semantic indication of how quickly the apostolic witness-martyrs came to understand that their testimony would be costly. Paul summons his churches to ’interpret the signs of the times’ (Jesus’ own expression in Matt. 16:3). They are watching for God-given opportunities to meet the ’works of darkness’ while wearing the ’armor of light (Rom 13:12). Surprisingly, the liturgical season of Advent, rather than Lent, best locates the Christian community. Advent — the time between — with its themes of crisis and judgement, now and not-yet, places us not in some privileged spiritual sanctuary but on the frontier where the promised kingdom of God exerts maximum pressure on the present, with corresponding signs of suffering and struggle. As if to clinch the point, Paul writes at the very heart of his resurrection chapter that he is in peril every hour. ’I protest, brethren, by my pride in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day!’ (1 Cor. 15:30-31). He wants them to understand that the resurrection life in this world, though free and confident ’in sure and certain hope of eternal life,’ must always be marked by the signs of the cross.”

  • Rutledge, Fleming, 2015: The Crucifixion, Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ. Eerdmans Publishing Co.: Grand Rapids. S. 44-45.

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