Hanging by a Thread

By Bryan Salminen –

The cross confronts us with the fragility of Jesus. He’s no superman who leaps down and says, “only joking.” He suffers to the end. We wonder how this awful spectacle can possible be necessary for our salvation. We’re supposed to wonder that. We wonder whether this tiny, broken, wasted body can possibly be the body of God. We’re supposed to wonder that. We wonder how any joy, any hope, any glory can possibly emerge for this hideous catastrophe.

We’re supposed to wonder that. We wonder why God doesn’t utterly reject us after we’ve shown the very worst we can do. We’re supposed to wonder that. All of those wonderings should be part of our faith, imagination, daily prayer, and compassionate hearts. But for all our wondering and pondering, one thing is utterly clear. When we see the pain, when we feel the grief, when we look upon the loneliness, when we touch the wounds, and when we hear the cries, we know that God will go to any length for us. God will never be separated from us. God’s love for us is written into His DNA. There’s no part of God that has any desire to be except to be with us. Jesus is the embodiment of the way God’s destiny is wrapped up in us forever. Any other notion of God, any other speculation about God’s wishes, any other idea about what lies at the heart of God is gone. Over. Dispelled. Finished.

Jesus’ final word: finished. His life is finished. His ministry is finished. The Scriptures are finished. The reconciliation of God and creation is finished. And a host of misconceptions are dispatched at the same time. Jesus isn’t a cozy companion. He’s not a triumphalist conqueror. He’s not a law-abiding do-gooder. He’s not legal formula. He’s not a heartless onlooker. He’s not a pretext for Christian self-satisfaction. All those idolatries are finished. They’re snuffed out like a line of candles, one by one. Finished. Finished. Finished. Finished. Finished.

Everything is finished. Everything is desolate. Everything is laid waste. Everything is lost except the heart of God laid bare. And if we’re not seduced by a comforting savior, if we’re not mesmerized by a merciless hero, if we’re not domesticated by a model citizen, if we’re not obsessed by a mathematical equation, if we’re not alienated by a distant deity, if we haven’t fled from the cross like most of the church for most of its history, we might just get close enough to glimpse that sacred heart laid bare.