Meeting God

LUTHER

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When Defeat was Defeated

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When Hell’s hatred inspired cruel hands to nail Jesus of Nazareth to a Roman cross—the victim turned everything around and became the Victor.

On that cross death was defeated, the Serpent’s head was crushed, the curse was annulled, sin was overthrown, guilt was eradicated, captives were set free, Hell was humiliated, and Love won.

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Someone said that “a successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.” Jesus took the cross, the nails, the cruelty, the injustice, the mocking, and hatred—and laid a firm foundation for a new world, a New Creation.

“And through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross” (Col. 1:20).

It doesn’t get any more “successful” that.

–Jurgen O. Schulz

Image: The Cross by Thomas Kinkade

God, explain yourself

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How is faith to endure, O God, when you allow all this scraping and tearing on us? You have allowed rivers of blood to flow, mountains of suffering to pile up, sobs to become humanity’s song–all without lifting a finger that we could see. You have allowed bonds of love beyond number to be painfully snapped. If you have not abandoned us, explain yourself.

We strain to hear. But instead of hearing an answer we catch sight of God himself scraped and torn. Through our tears we see the tears of God.

―Nicholas Wolterstorff
Lament for a Son

That is the God for me

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I could never myself believe in God, if it were not for the cross. The only God I believe in is the One Nietzsche ridiculed as ‘God on the cross.’

In the real world of pain,
how could one worship a God
who was immune to it?

I have entered many Buddhist temples in different Asian countries and stood respectfully before the statue of the Buddha, his legs crossed, arms folded, eyes closed, the ghost of a smile playing round his mouth, a remote look on his face, detached from the agonies of the world. But each time after a while I have had to turn away. And in imagination I have turned instead to that lonely, twisted, tortured figure on the cross, nails through hands and feet, back lacerated, limbs wrenched, brow bleeding from thorn-pricks, mouth dry and intolerably thirsty, plunged in Godforsaken darkness.

That is the God for me!
He laid aside his immunity to pain.

He entered our world of flesh and blood, tears and death. He suffered for us. Our sufferings become more manageable in the light of his. There is still a question mark against human suffering, but over it we boldly stamp another mark, the cross that symbolizes divine suffering.

 John R. W. Stott
The Cross of Christ

Our prison door is open

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Look once again to Jesus Christ in his death upon the cross. Look and try to understand that what he did and suffered he did and suffered for you, for me, for us all. He carried our sin, our captivity and our suffering, and did not carry it in vain. He carried it away. He acted as the captain of us all.

He broke through the ranks of our enemies.
He has already won the battle, our battle.

All we have to do is to follow him, to be victorious with him. Through him, in him we are saved. Our sin no longer has any power over us. Our prison door is open . . . When he, the Son of God, set us free, we are truly free.

–Karl Barth
(1886 – 1968)

Love beyond measure

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Jesus said, “He who sees Me sees the Father.” From our brother Jesus, who alone knows the Father, we learn that there is a welcoming love, unconditional acceptance, a relentless and eternal affection that so far exceeds our human experience that even the passion and death of Jesus is only a hint of it. Think on that for a moment: the torn, broken, lacerated, spit-covered, blood-drenched body of Jesus is only a hint of the Father’s love. The very substance of our faith is an unwavering confidence that beyond the hint lies love beyond measure.

–Brennan Manning
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