The Glory of the Cross

Splendid article in CT by Jeremy Treat on the Glory of the Cross. Some excerpts:

Throughout the Old Testament, God accomplishes his sovereign purposes through weak people and broken circumstances. He builds a nation from an infertile elderly couple (Abraham and Sarah), names the nation after a backstabbing trickster (Jacob), and grows the nation through a slave-child abandoned by his brothers (Joseph). God uses little David as the humble and even foolish means of defeating a giant, and then makes David a king whose reign is marked by adversity and suffering. And Isaiah 52 and 53 tell of a servant whose sacrificial atonement is framed by glory and exaltation.

All of this points to Jesus, who came to establish God's glorious kingdom through suffering, sacrifice, and service. As Jesus approached his death, he said, "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself" (John 12:32). At first, it seems that Jesus is talking about his coming entrance into heaven. But the following verse explains that Jesus is referring to his crucifixion: "He said this to show what kind of death he was going to die." John's gospel builds toward the climactic hour when Jesus' being "lifted up" on the cross is the moment he is enthroned in glory (John 12:23–32; 3:14; 8:28). The Cross becomes the throne from which Christ rules the world.

From the bruised heel of Genesis 3:15 to the reigning lamb of Revelation 22, the Bible tells the story of a crucified Messiah who is glorified through suffering.

Many of us instinctively feel that if we are faithful to Jesus, then life will go well for us. We will find comfort, success, and maybe even wealth. But that's the logic of the American dream, not the gospel. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, "A king who dies on the Cross must be the king of a rather strange kingdom." A strange kingdom indeed. And the king who was glorified on the Cross advances his kingdom by calling his followers to take up their own crosses.

Our world operates according to the logic that weakness and power are opposites. But the Cross turns this concept on its head.

All this is possible because of the glory of Christ's crucifixion. Majesty and meekness, sovereignty and servitude, humiliation and exaltation—such is the paradox of the crucified Messiah. Our lives are filled with pain and pleasure, glory and garbage, dreams and despair. That's the tension of a world marred by sin yet sustained by grace.

Read the whole thing.