There is more and better theology in Calvary than in the head of every apologist, theologian, Doctor of the Church, monk, abbot, mystic, priest, monsignor, bishop, Cardinal, Pope, hermit and saint who has ever lived or will ever live.
Therefore, preach Calvary. The payload of Calvary is knowledge of God. “... for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:9). Fill the earth with the knowledge of God. Open the treasure chest of Calvary and watch the children of Adam and Eve run enthusiastically into the loving arms of the Son of God!
If you do not know what to say, let me teach you.
Having been gone from the house for a long time, its owner returned but the servants of the house no longer recognized Him. In their eyes, He was a meddlesome intruder intent on interrupting their way of life so they tortured and killed Him. Only when His love for them survived their torture and killing were the eyes of the servants of the house opened and only then did they recognize Him as the Owner of the house. At Calvary, the Son of God announced that the owner of the house had returned. The announcement was unique. At Calvary, the servants’ torturing and killing of the Son of God contested with the love of God for the servants. In the contest, the servants’ torturing and killing of the Son of God arrived at their end but the love of God for the servants did not. Love survived. Happy are the servants of the house whose owner loves them despite their wickedness and ingratitude. He is back! He is back! The owner of the house is back! The owner is back to reclaim His house. “... [P]repare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (Isaiah 40:3). He is back!
The foundation of Christianity is the thirty-three year visit of the Son of God to us at and about the city of Jerusalem in a region of the earth called the Middle East more than two thousand years ago. Wow! The Son of God paid us a visit! He was the owner of the house; yet, He came amongst us not as the owner but humbly as our guest. He did not come amongst us on a level above us as befits our God. He came amongst us on the same level as us. He came as one of us - an equal to us in our humanity - a partner with us in our suffering. The Son of God rubbed elbows with us. The Son of God lived with us, ate with us, bathed with us, worked with us, slept with us, cried with us and laughed with us. They say He pitched His tent amongst us. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
Is it not a miracle in and of itself that so much of our civilization is based on such an infinitesimally thin slice of time compared to the thickness of eternity?
But, why? Why did the Son of God Himself pay us a visit? The answer is apocalypse. The purpose of the Visit was to reveal to us the nature of God. The Visit showed us the sweetness of paradise. It ripped the veil in twain that hid from us the nature of God. It exposed the holiest of holies. Who is God? The Visit answered this question.
At Bethlehem, God put a love note into our hands. The Son of God was the love note. At Calvary, thirty-three years later, the Son of God gave us His personal guarantee that the love note was genuine. Calvary was the highlight of the Son of God’s Visit. At Calvary, we tortured and killed the Son of God. If the love note were counterfeit, it would have faded as we tortured Him and died when we killed Him. But it did not. It survived. The foul baptism into which we immersed Him did not extinguish His love for us or reduce it by even the slightest degree. At Calvary, we tested the love note in the boiling cauldron of pain and suffering. The test verified its veracity. The survival of His love for us proved the authenticity of the love note. The test of Calvary guaranteed that His love for us is indestructible. The guarantee is so real that we can put our fingers into its wounds as Thomas did. God loves us and, at Calvary, God gave sinners the proof! No passion; no proof. At Calvary, God gave us more than His word that He loved us. God gave us His body and His blood to prove that He loved us.
At Calvary, we impaled the Son of God on the sharp hook of salvation while He was human, alive, tender and vulnerable. We impaled Him on the Cross with the same insouciant cruelty with which a fisherman impales a live worm on a sharp hook. At Calvary, the Son of God became the sweet bait that the most Holy Trinity cast into the cesspools of godlessness to fish for the children of Adam and Eve.
The Son of God suffered and died.
His Visit to us seemed to end in abject failure. It seemed to conclude in ignominious defeat. Yet, the end is better than it appeared; the conclusion, the polar opposite of what it seemed.
Reality does not exist in a single layer. Reality has depth. Its depth comes from multiple layers. Different stories unfold on the different layers of reality. Many, however, are nearsighted. They only see the story that is unfolding on the skin of reality. They do not see the story that is unfolding on a subcutaneous layer of reality. Therefore, the nearsighted cannot tell the full story of Calvary. Only the full story reveals the nature of God.
Indeed, the story that unfolded on the skin of reality was bleak. We tortured and killed the Son of God while He was human, alive, tender and vulnerable. What worse could we have done to the Son of God than to torture and kill Him? This was the sin of sins.
However, on a subcutaneous layer of reality, a different, glorious, and triumphant story was unfolding. As we tortured and killed Him, He spilled not a drop - not a drop - of His love for us. As we imposed our cross upon Him, He clung to His love for us, held tight and did not let go. He clung to His love for us with the tenacious grip of the the drowning man who clings to a life preserver during a ferocious storm. The dial that regulates His love for us is controlled by Him and not by us or by our sins. There is a disconnect between God’s love for us and our sins against them. Moreover, He keeps the dial set to the highest degree and locked in place. Asymmetrical is the relationship between us and God.
Furthermore, the guarantee of the love note did not come cheap. It was exorbitantly expensive. Yet, the Son of God did not ask us to defray any of its cost. He took not a penny from us. The Son of God gave the guarantee to us gratuitously. He paid for the guarantee Himself entirely out of His own pocket and entirely with His own funds. Moreover, He paid for the guarantee not from His unlimited divine resources but from His limited human resources. He held not a penny back for Himself. He paid all for us. He has never paid more for anything else. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” He sold all He had for us because He considers us “the treasure hid in a field” and thinks us “the pearl of great price”. We are the apple of God’s eye. Wow!
Is He not overvaluing us? Does He not love us more than we love ourselves?
Let me reiterate the guarantee of His love for us with south of the border imagery. At Calvary, we hung a piñata from a tree, beat Him with sticks, broke open His fragile shell and exposed His most sacred heart for the world to see. Remarkably, it was still filled to the brim with love for us. Buckets of blood spilled through the wounds we opened in the body of the Son of God, but not a drop - not a drop - of His love for us. Our brutal cruelty toward Him revealed His tender and intransigent love for us.
Calvary is a pudding made with only two ingredients: 1) Our torture and killing and 2) the Son of God’s love for us. The mixture, when cooked in the furnace of Calvary, produced the guarantee that God’s love for us is indestructible. The proof is in the pudding.
Let me add something that some may consider scandalous about the Resurrection. The real miracle of the Resurrection is not that He defeated death. Indeed, the defeat of death was an awesome display of His omnipotence. However, the real miracle of the Resurrection is the survival of His love for us. He continues to love us nonetheless even though we tortured and killed Him
In the Ten Commandments, God command us to refrain from making graven images of them. Why? God knew that any representation of their nature made by human hands would be inferior to the representation that God would give us at Calvary.
On the canvas of Calvary in pigments of pain and suffering, the Son of God, who is the brush of truth, painted a self-portrait of God’s indestructible love for us. All other representations of the nature of God, before Calvary and since Calvary, must yield to the self-portrait. They are inferior representations of God. Everything must be measured against the self-portrait they gave us at Calvary. Do not be fooled by other representations of the nature of God. Test everything against the revelation that God gave us at Calvary. You do not need to be a rocket scientist or a theologian or a pope to conduct the test. You can do it yourself. That is why the revelation of Calvary is so marvellous. It is a do-it-yourself understanding of the nature of God.
When in doubt about the nature of God - when you become disoriented - when the level of your certainty about the nature of God plummets to less than one hundred percent - when you are confused about God, have recourse to the apocalypse of Calvary. Calvary is my rock. On the rock of Calvary, I build my house. All of my thinking about the nature of God rests on the foundation of Calvary. God’s love for us is indestructible. If torturing and killing Him while He was visiting with us did not destroy His love for us, nothing can or will. Why am I one hundred percent (100%) certain that God’s love for us is indestructible? Calvary. Calvary is the source of my certainty. Calvary is my proof.
Isaiah tells us of nations streaming to the mountain of God for instruction (Isaiah 2:2-3). Why did they stream to God? Why did they open their ears to instruction? They possessed knowledge of God. “... for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:9). They came in possession of the knowledge that God’s love for them is indestructible. Obedience arises when the teacher loves the student and the student loves the teacher. Love opens the ear of the student to the instruction of the teacher. Without love, the ear of the student is closed. Obedience cannot be coerced. It is only won by love. Calvary was a catechesis of love. When love speaks, the children of Adam and Eve listen.
The payload of Calvary is knowledge of God. Therefore, proclaim Calvary! The theology of Calvary gives the children of Adam and Eve knowledge of the nature of God. Knowledge of the nature of God inspires them to learn more. They feel the Holy Spirit tugging at their souls and, curious, they follow the tug back to its source. They explore the mystery, majesty and magnificence of God. During their exploration, they have close encounters with the living God. No one walks away from a close encounter with the living God unchanged. No one walks away from a close encounter with the living God empty handed. Close encounters with the living God lead to intimacy with them. Intimacy with them leads to holiness. Holiness leads to obedience. Obedience does not make us slaves. Obedience sets us free.
Rest your head on the pillow of Calvary to sleep the sleep of the angels.