Christians believe that Jesus is God; that gives his death a universal significance. we spend a lot of time, perhaps too much, arguing over what it means to be ‘saved’. To me it is simple – our sin dies in Jesus, and our new life rises with him. But not all of us will choose to embrace him, not all of us will reach out to receive his love. That death on the cross, that once and for all oblation for our sins is a symbol of the clash between his perfect love and our human sinfulness – because all have sinned, and he who says he has not has not the truth in him; even the Virgin Mary – the best of our race, needed saving. Unlike so many Protestants, I have come to have no problem in believing that she was saved from her own conception by the Grace of God; who will say it could not be so? Who amongst us will so blaspheme as to place a limit on God? Enough of such talk.
That Cross and the Lord of the World hanging on it is a mirror of humanity, fallen humanity in its vanity and its pride. It could not receive him – though he made the world, it received him not.
Some, it is true, were faithful to Golgotha – and it is no accident it is the women and the disciple Jesus loved who were there – as it was no accident that the men brave in words and willing to draw a sword were nowhere to be found; that is such a reflection of the reality we all live. I cannot judge them, because I am one of them, I can only hope that having been redeemed by the Risen Lord, my witness is more akin to that of those Apostles after the first Easter Sunday; and if I ever come close to that, that will be soon enough to pass a judgment on those who ran when the going got tough.
We all, I fear, choose the worthless and reject the perfect. We all follow too much the devices and desires of our own hearts, and without him, there is no health in us. We all find, enthroned in our hearts, a little tin-god of our own making, enthroned in his castle of sin whose walls can be breached only by the love of God. And yet who are we that the Lord of Creation should be merciful to us, should come in humility to suffer the worst our fallen race can do? If we read that riddle aright, we get some indication of the blessed state for which we are born, for the answer to it is love, love divine, all loves excelling.
There is here a wondrous thing, the most wondrous man ever heard, which is that the Prince of Glory reaches down from that Cross to raise us up with him. That he loves me I know, why it should be save that he is my father and I his unworthy son, that I cannot know. Yet I am glad it is so – how could I not be – and what joy fills my heart at the thought!
So, my brothers and sisters here, let us put aside the little tin-god, let us dethrone him. It took me years to see that sectarian arguments got me nowhere, and that surrendering to the love of God and accepting my fellow Christians was the only way love allowed me to grow in him. That small pearl I share with you, not in the spirit that we compromise, but in the Spirit who raises us all up. Amen.