The scandal and offense of Jesus’ crucifixion lies mostly buried under 2000 years of familiarity. Isaiah writes of the shock that the nations experience when Israel, that no-account postage stamp of land they were used to running over en route to fighting more important peoples, turns out not only to be exalted and lifted up on high, but also the means of their salvation, in accordance with the Abrahamic covenant. Similarly, that a minor Jewish political threat hanging like a ragged corpse on a cross outside Jerusalem—just like so many others, before and especially after—should turn out to be the Savior of the World ought to surprise us, or at least inspire a little incredulity. We often say that the Jews were expecting the wrong kind of messiah, but really, who can blame them? According to the Gospel accounts, even Jesus’ closest associates did not expect him to die, and certainly not like this. Their shock still resonates through the stories recorded many decades later. [Read more…]
O Jesus, on the cross, alone,
you are the only God I know;
my pleading heart a barren stone
no heaven finds but here below.
I met you hanging on a tree
in woods obscure, half spent the day,
forsaken by your God, like me,
without a friend to share the way.
Companionship then let us keep—
though mortal fear each footstep bars—
as we descend through dark and deep,
together searching for the stars.