We are three quarters of the way through the season of Lent (starting at Ash Wednesday going through Easter). This is the time of year that believers typically prepare – through prayer, penitence, almsgiving, and self-denial – for the Holy Week and ultimately Resurrection Sunday .
The facet of this season that has stood out to me in a new way this year is this: how is it that the central icon of the Christian faith is a Cross? A cross is what split history into two. A cross is what launched the most significant movement in human history. A cross is at the center of what has transformed millions of people’s lives.
Consider how unusual that is.
All the other religious founders of the major religions died old and successful. Moses gets the children of the Israel to the border of the Promised Land and died over 100 years old. Buddha lives to 80 years old and claimed to achieve enlightenment. Mohammed lives into his 60’s but doesn’t die until he unites all of Arabia under one faith.
In contrast you have Jesus, who dies on a Cross at age 33. He dies in agony. He is abandoned by everyone in his life. He died alone, young, stripped naked and stared at, and crying out to God and asking why he has been abandoned. The high point of his ministry is Jesus hanging from a Cross.
What is it about a Cross that changed not only human history but also changes the human heart?