No cross - no resurrection?

It is the season of lent. Our deacon gave the homily today. He looked up from his notes and paused dramatically. The pause warned us in the pews that we were about to hear something of significance. We waited in suspense. He said, "no cross, no resurrection." Then he paused again. The second pause gave us ample time to digest the profundity of his four word proclamation.

Right then and there I knew that He did not understand the connection of significance. He made a connection all right. However, the connection of significance is not between the Cross and the Resurrection. The connection of significance is between the Cross and God's indestructible love for us. 

Reality does not consist of a single layer. Reality has depth. Its depth comes from multiple layers. Different stories unfold on the different layers of reality. The story that is unfolding on the skin of reality is different than the stories unfolding on the subcutaneous layers of reality beneath the skin.

At Calvary, on the skin of reality, unfolded the story of the evil we did to the Son of God, that is, the torture and death that we inflicted on the Son of God while He was human, alive, tender and vulnerable. However, it is an utterly meaningless story unless and until it is connected to the next layer of reality immediately underneath the skin.

The next layer of reality immediately beneath the skin of reality is not the Resurrection. 

The next layer of reality immediately underneath the skin of reality holds the story of the love of the Son of God for us. What is happening to the Son of God's love for us as we torture and kill Him with lash, thorns, nails and spear. Do we extinguish it? Do we reduce it by degrees? Is it affected? Is it unaffected?

According to ordinary human human calculus, we would expect that the Son of God's love for us would have faded as we tortured Him and would have died when we killed Him. However, God's ways are not our ways. God's love for us neither faded nor died. The Son of God's love for us survived. The survival of His love for us despite the evil we did to him debunked ordinary human calculus. The survival of His love for us taught us a revolutionary new calculus. From it we learn, in general, that love can be indestructible and, in particular, that the Son of God's love for us is indestructible. His body and blood were as precious to Him as our body and blood are precious to us. Yet, like coin, he paid them all for us. He held back not a penny for Himself. He has never paid more for anything else. If torturing Him and killing Him while He was human, alive, tender and vulnerable did not extinguish His love for us or reduce it by even the slightest degree, nothing can or will. The dial that controls His love for us is in His hands not ours. Moreover, it is set to the highest degree and is locked in place. 

Calvary's disclosure of the indestructibility of His love for us is the revelation that knocks me off my feet. It is the revelation that makes me ask myself, "Where do I sign up?" "How do I enlist?" "How do I join the kingdom of the God who loves me this much?" His irreducible love for us is the sweetness of paradise. It draws us out of godlessness and back to paradise as honey draws bees to the hive. The guarantee of His love for us that the Son of God put into our hands at Calvary is the rock on which we can build our understanding of the nature of God. By virtue of Calvary, no longer do we have reason to doubt God's love for us.

When we look at the Cross, most of us stop at the bloody wounds we opened in the body of Christ. But do not stop there. The bloody wounds are windows. Look through them. Look through them to the most sacred heart of Jesus. See that His most sacred heart stays filled to the brim with love for us. Buckets of blood spilled though the wounds we opened but not a drop - not a single drop - of His love for us spilled as we tortured and killed Him.

But I cannot blame the good deacon for not seeing the meaningful connection. Take a look at the Nicene Creed or the Apostles Creed. The two creeds also do not mention God's indestructible love for us. God's indestructible love for us is the most important aspect of Christianity; yet, our imperfect ability to clearly see the multiple layers of reality stops us from making the connections that are appropriate and meaningful. Our good deacon intuitively knew that a connection between two layers of reality was necessary to make the evil we did to the Son of God meaningful. Hopefully, this explanation of the different layers of reality will convince him and you that he skipped the layer of reality in between the Cross and the Resurrection. This in between layer of reality, when combined with the skin of reality, reveals to us the most significant aspect of Christianity. God is love. How do we know? Calvary tells us so. Rejoice and be glad.