Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.
Love the Lord you God with all your heart,
with all your soul,
with all your mind, and with all your strength.
The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no commandment greater than these.
This is a series of reflections on Scot McKnight’s book, The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others. It’s a book I unequivocally recommend for anyone. Each chapter opens with recommended Gospel readings. The readings for this chapter are: Luke 23:26-49; John 18-19.
Scot explores the grotesqueness of the cross in a way that is impossible to summarize if you do not already understand it. But I love this bit:
Beginning to end, the crucifixion of Jesus is a grotesque scene, one that is far from the mind of most persons who wear crosses around their necks. No one, to use a modern analogy, has the macabre affront to wear a necklace with a guillotine or a gallows or a noose or an electric chair, or cells on death row.
Scot makes precisely a point I tried (and often failed) to explain to those who were Christian about one reason I became Christian.
In fact, the writer of the Book of Hebrews explains something many Christians miss when it comes to the cross: Jesus suffers to sympathize with our sufferings.
Jesus with us. In our worst suffering, in our darkest hour, in our most hopeless moment, Jesus is right there with us. He understands it all and weeps tears of empathy and love for us. There is no place of sorrow, no depth of abandonment, no height of unwarranted cruelty and despite where Jesus has not gone and is not walking with us. For this he is named Immanuel.
The Cross is thus also, paradoxically, the revelation of the glory of God. It is the revelation of his love and his mercy and his faithfulness to his creation.
Glory to God!