I wonder if you have ever had the experience of finding a book so emotionally painful that you have been unable to continue reading it – I know I have. Many years ago I recall being unable to continue reading the book – “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” [a book about the extermination of Native Americans in the American West in the late nineteenth century] and more recently setting aside a book on the Holocaust. It is hard, sometimes impossible, to contemplate such suffering and inhumanity.
I have also to admit that I find it very difficult to contemplate the suffering and death of the purest human being who ever lived – the man we call Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Although most of us are familiar with the crucifixion story – and have perhaps, because of that familiarity, at times become anesthetized to it – I find it so harrowing that again, it is sometimes impossible to contemplate.
And yet, and yet – it is to the cross I must come – for only there do I see the full extent of God’s love for me. It is as I stand there, unable even to begin to understand or comprehend the suffering of the Sinless One as he absorbs all the evil of this world into his own person, that I realise the overwhelming, unimaginable love of God for me – for you!
As we stand before the cross I believe we stand before a sea – a boundless ocean of love and truth – and that little by little God invites us to go deeper – to see a little more clearly, in the words of the hymn writer – “What it meant to Thee, the Holy One,To bear away my sin.”.
And, it is as we contemplate the “Sin Bearer” that all fear melts away, any thought of our own righteousness dissipates, any idea that my religious observation might be enough to please him crumbles. I realise as I gaze at the “Sin Bearer” hanging on the cross that I stand only and forever in grace – ever loved – ever accepted – ever secure.
Unto Him who loves us – gave us
Every pledge that love could give,
Freely shed His blood to save us,
Gave His life that we might live,
Be the kingdom
And the glory evermore.