During this time of Easter we celebrate the mock trial, the brutal torturing and murder of Jesus Christ just as much as we do his resurrection from the grave. It is in his resurrection that we have hope of eternal life, something indeed worth celebrating. But what about his brutal death? This is the ugly side-or so it would seem-of Christian doctrine because ultimately this was perpetrated by a "good God".
I listened to a young woman on a bus a few years ago complaining about being judged. She said that God would be her judge and that no person had a right to judge her. She was right on both counts but I thought her reasoning was flawed. Personally I would prefer to be judged by another fallen and sinful human being than to be judged by a Holy and Righteous God. His judgements would be good and true and I would be left with no recourse or appeal under the weight of them. Furthermore, His judgements would only serve to reveal and remind me of the sins I am unaware of or have forgotten. The sins I have committed that do not fall into those categories are already sufficient to make me aware of my condemned condition.
I think this woman's mindset is indicative of our society as a whole. Though polls consistently show that ninety or so percent of us believe in God, we no longer see Him as a God of wrath, which is why the cross is such an affront to the modern mindset. We can't reconcile the Crucifixion of Christ Jesus with a good and loving God. Paradoxically, we live in a time of extreme judgementalism. The AIG bonuses, the saying that homosexuality is a sin, the war mongering and lying George W Bush, are but a few examples of judgements that seem to demand some sort of retribution. But how could a good and loving God administer ultimate justice if he is good and loving?
The answer of course is the cross. It reconciles the wrath of God with His love and mercy. For if God is truly good, His judgements must be good and true. And if His judgements are good and true, we are all condemned no less than the evil AIG executives, homophobes and Bush; that is unless someone else takes our place. This would be an act of extreme mercy, especially when the One who takes our place is without sin. And it would by necessity be an act only God himself could accomplish, which he did! This is why we Christians celebrate the death, with all its ugliness, as well as the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is because He is indeed our Savior from the just wrath of a good and loving God.
Majesty and Humility - David's Psalm 8 begins with the glorious, "O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth, Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens...