The Attractive Draw of the Cross:
When I watched the crucifixion seen in the Passion of the Christ I had to force myself to keep my eyes glued to the screen. I didn’t want to see all the blood and violence but I figured if Christ endured it, I can at least witness it. On the surface there is something repulsive about the cross. But when Paul talked about the one thing he wanted to preach on over and over again it was Christ crucified. On the surface that doesn’t sound like a very attractive message. It is messy, bloody, andgorey. Then you have Jesus who talked about what would draw all men to himself. It wasn’t plush auditoriums, hip music, or motivational speeches. Jesus himself said if he is lifted up he would draw all men to himself (John 12:32), speaking of the cross.
What makes the cross attractive in spite of everything inside of us that wants to look away? It is the same answer to the question, Why did Jesus constantly refer to his crucifixion as his glorification, which sounds quite the opposite of what we would think of the shameful cross. Because on the cross and later his exaltation from the grave and back to his throne in heaven, Jesus was demonstrating the power of God over sin and death and the ultimate objective of God for all to come to repentance and live in relationship with him forever.
The irony of the cross is it attracts those who thought dying was the only option. Through the power of the cross the door is opened to newness of life. Let us never shy away from the true and powerful message of Christ and let it attract who it will attract and drive away who it will drive away. Christ himself experienced both reactions when he lived among us, should we expect any different? He didn’t sugar coat, water down, or hold back the difficult parts. And still, against every grain of our upside down thinking on what would be attractive, his message has changed the world.
One last disclaimer – I don’t mean to make straw men out of energetic worship or anything else. I am just saying when we keep the main thing the main thing then we will draw who we will draw to something honest, worthwhile, whole, and salvific. That doesn’t mean all new methods are shallow or that all emotion is distracting. I hope I have made that clear enough in the last two posts.
Another good post!
In 1 Cor 2:2, when Paul says he determined to know nothing among them save Jesus Christ and Him crucified, he used a perfect tense. This means he preached only the cross and its results.
He preached more than the blood and gore. In fact, I see little of the “blood and gore” preaching in the New Testament. I think that this is often used more to generate emotion than enlightenment. Of course, a first century audience knew what crucifixion and the cross entailed. It was not necessary to describe it to them. Modern audiences may need more description.
Yet, the blood and gore is not the focus of the message. The point is that by His dying and being raised, we are empowered to die and find new life.