We argue over metaphors because we think that what happened on the cross can be summarized in a sentence or two in a theology textbook.
But the incarnation is about the Word become flesh, dwelling among us—sweating and crying and laughing and healing and bleeding. And so what happened on the cross can never be contained in a metaphor, explained with words, or argued in a debate. It must be experienced.
We experience the cross amidst suffering, amidst death, amidst reconciliation, amidst hope, amidst sacrifice. And when experienced, the cross can mean a lot of things…
that God Himself achieved what He set out to achieve through Israel
that God Himself loved his enemies to the point of death
that God Himself was a victim of the Empire
that God Himself provided a way of reconciliation
that God Himself experienced all the suffering and pain this world can conjure
that God Himself became a sacrifice on our behalf
that God Himself dealt with the ramifications of sin
that God Himself declared victory over death
that God Himself became so entirely human that he asked the same question that David once asked of Him— “eli eli lama sabachthani?”
So for a day, let’s stop arguing about metaphors and together acknowledge that, while all of them fit, none of them fit. While we are all right, none of us are right.
The cross is a mystery we can grasp but not tame.
What happened on the cross was never meant to fit into words.
What does the cross mean to you today? With all of its rich and layered meaning, what metaphor or image from the cross illuminates your life right now?
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