The Creed does not record
the events of Jesus ministry on earth - the miracles and healings do not form part
of this declaration of belief. The are signs of who Jesus is - and do take us onto a
threshold of Mystery and Understanding - but one which can tempt us to look at details and
fail to take in the whole picture. The Creed is about the big picture...
So, having spoken of the birth of Jesus - it moves straight on to the other proof of His humanity - His death - and not just any death - but death by crucifixion...
Most people pray that they will die peacefully in their beds at the end of a long healthy life. For many in the west, death is something we rarely encounter - and when we do, it is usually fairly well sanitised. There are very few who see what a violent death can do to a human being - and for those who do, it can be a traumatic experience, the memory of which never leaves them. Think of soldiers who fought in the First World War - and see how, 80 years on, they have not forgotten the sights - the sounds - the smells - and the sense of anguish in seeing young friends killed and horribly injured.... Lest we forget....
And yet, many people have forgotten that at the centre of our faith is a young man tortured to death in a way that had been so refined that it caused the maximum amount of suffering. Many will have heard the story of someone going into a shop to buy a cross and being asked whether they wanted a "plain one or one with the little man on..." We have forgotten what crucifixion means.
The horror of what Jesus endured - and what His mother and friends witnessed is probably beyond anything we can imagine. The Gospel accounts are fairly sparse - they were writing for people who knew what crucifixion meant. They also knew that it was a death reserved for criminals and slaves...
How can God be crucified? How can God suffer? How can God die? Confronted with this Mystery, some early Christians suggested that He only pretended to suffer and die - that, being God, Jesus did not experience it as a human being would.
The Creed declares that this is not true - Jesus suffered crucifixion - He died - and He was buried. The mention of Pontius Pilate places the event firmly into human history - and the death of Jesus is recorded in Roman manuscripts. It happened.
The One who came down from heaven - who took flesh and was born fully human - had the human life wrung out of Him by a death of unspeakable cruelty...
...and He did this because He loved us...
We hear stories of people giving their lives for others - but the Mystery we confront as we gaze at a cross or crucifix - is that, given the ways in which God could have redeemed His people, He chose this one. Why not choose an easier option?
Why choose the path of human birth - life - and ultimately a horrible death?
Why choose this - if not to show the depths of Gods love....As we gaze at the cross, we can only ask ourselves, what more could He have given for us?
Drinking from the Wellspring
If you have a cross - spend time gazing at
it - and ask yourself the question:
© 1999 Wellspring