SAUCIER — Cross examination


So, what’s it to you?

It wasn’t taunting but haunting, relentlessly popping up over the past few days.

The “it,” in this case, is the cross, and the question a bit of the seasonal affective disorder of Holy Week.

The meaning of the cross has been debated ever since Jesus took those halting, stumbling steps up Golgotha hill.

Origen thought it was ransom, paying the devil the ultimate emancipation fee for humanity’s slavery to sin.

Thomas saw it as atonement, a sacrifice for the offenses of all. An offering so great it merited salvation for even the worst of us.

Anselm saw it as satisfaction, an act so selfless that it satisfied God’s demand for justice.

Luther held it was penal substitution — Jesus punished in the place of sinners to meet the legal demand to punish sin, freeing God to forgive.

There are other theories, but they’re all a little too transactional — an accountant’s ledger insufficient to the mystery of God.

Besides, while theology can do its best to explain the cross, it doesn’t answer the question.

So I gaze upon a cross.

It is an enigma, at once grotesque and moving. It is a symbol of cruel and humiliating capital punishment and an ageless inspiration for art and life.

This cross is unique, with a corpus of Christ that has oversized features.

The fingers are curled in pain around the head of an enormous spike. They suggest the strength of Someone Who worked wood and stone, and yet the gentle power to hold and to heal.

The feet are rough, the toenails ragged as Someone Who spent years and many sandaled miles climbing rocky paths and walking dirty roads to spread the message that earned this death.

The beard and hair stiff with dirt, blood and mucous. The red running down His body looks more like pieces of flesh than droplets of blood, as if He had given His very all to the mission that brought Him here.

His eyes are closed, perhaps in surrender, but maybe a calmness — like remembering all whom He had met, all that He had done, and all without regret.

What’s it to me?

A revelation of Who God is.

A God willing to suffer with us.

A God in Whom the powerless find power, the hopeless hope, the troubled peace, and the outcast refuge.

The killing on the cross was horrible, but the dying remains full of love, forgiveness and promise.