Jesus said to Nicodemus:ot
“No one has gone up to heaven
except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man.
And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him.
The cross and the crucifix. Two ways of looking at the same thing. They are best understood as a before and after event.
The violence, the pain, the ultimate death that Jesus endured on the cross, we too endure. His cross is our cross, like it or not. Who of us does not know pain, or violence? Who of us has not feared or even had to look death right in the face? When we look at him, the very Son, and see what He endured, how can we not expect the same? The cross, our being crucified by life is inevitable. It is our cross, it is our walk, it is our story like it or not. But, and this is the biggest BUT of all time, the cross, the pain and death and suffering of this life did not have the last word with Him and neither is it the last word for us. Jesus tells us more than once to be ready for the cross and to pick up our cross if we want to follow Him. He never promised us an easy life. But He did tell us that eternal life would have the last word – now that, he promised.
The cross by itself is triumphant. When we see it bare, we see what was left behind. We don’t see us, we don’t see Him. St. Paul tells us that we must be crucified with Christ, die with Christ, but also, be raised up with Him. In the end, we leave our cross behind, we move beyond. In an odd way the triumph of the cross is triumphant precisely because the cross is not triumphant. Being raised up with Christ and leaving our cross behind is what is triumphant.