Friday, April 6, 2012

Jesus Stays on the Cross

Mark 15:29-32 (ESV)
And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, "Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, [30] save yourself, and come down from the cross!" [31] So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, "He saved others; he cannot save himself. [32] Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe." Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.

I have to say I’m confused by this image. Some call it an Ascension Cross. What is wrong with a crucifix? Why can’t we just have Jesus hanging their dying or dead. Luther thought the crucifix was the gospel in image form. Counseled people to hold it before the eyes of a dying man. And it is. Roman Catholics are reminded of Jesus Christ and him Crucified every time they see one. And that is all that Paul would know among the Corinthians where he was said to preach the Gospel. But every time I see one of these things, I think hey look, Jesus is doing what the hecklers told him too! He’s coming off the cross! There was not cross on the Mount of Olives.
Oh well. The hecklers are funny. “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, [30] save yourself, and come down from the cross!" Well if he was going to rebuild the temple, he needed to destroy it. He couldn’t do that, and come off the cross, but yet again, prophecy spoken by the very enemies of Christ, truth spoken.
Christ doesn’t come down off the cross. The hecklers say if he did they would believe. If he had they’d have nothing worth believing in. Mark says even those crucified with him taunted him. Other gospels record that one believed. Perhaps there is a little truth to both accounts. Perhaps the one repented as he saw how things transpired. In any case, had Jesus come down off the cross, neither of them would have had any hope of paradise. There would be nothing to believe in. Sins would not be atoned for, the temple would never be rebuilt.
They would no more have believed if Jesus had come down then when they saw his other miracles. No more than they believed the day he rose from the dead. Jesus knew what he was doing. He stayed on the cross. So can we get rid of this Ascension Cross bit? Lets go with the gospel, not be ashamed of it, have a bloody corpse hang from the cross and throw it around our necks so the gospel is never out of sight, never out of reach.

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