A joint post with Glen
If you come to our house and climb the stairs, you’ll see two paintings – both by a good (and very talented) friend of ours. The first – a picture of Jesus crucified – was a wedding gift. The second was commissioned for my birthday – a portrait of our 3 month old daughter.
The pictures hang side by side but though the artist is the same, they couldn’t be more different. One is a portrait of new life, the other of death. One is vibrant, the other dark. One draws the eye, the other repels it. One is the sort of art that’s universal to all people and cultures, the other is the strange obsession of Christians.
Only Christians celebrate a tortured criminal in his dying minutes. And ‘celebrate’ – strange to say – is precisely the right word: a man in agony, screaming to a blackened and silent heaven. Yet there it hangs, next to a smiling baby girl.
Because that baby girl is in trouble. Because, smiles apart, she’s already perishing. Because the world she’s been born into is deadly. Because the life she faces is every bit as scary as the darkness of the crucifixion. Because her sin will tear her – and others – apart.
The world offers my baby daughter distractions and entertainment – bunnies and butterflies to help her forget.
Jesus offers Himself – even in the most godforsaken parts. As her parents, we long to shield her from danger. But He alone meets her where she needs to be met. It’s not her earthly parents, but her heavenly Brother who meets her in the darkness of the world – and the darkness of her heart. If He’s not ashamed to be her Brother there, then she’ll always be safe.
This is why we celebrate the cross.