Saturday, April 7, 2012

He Is Not Here, for He Is Risen: Why We Should Embrace the Cross

In lieu of a New Year's Resolution post this weekend, since it it Easter tomorrow I want to re-post something I wrote two years ago about how I, as a Mormon, view the cross.  I believe we have done a serious disservice to that potent symbol in our attempts to distinguish ourselves from other Christians and focus almost exclusively on the garden.  I do not mean to de-emphasize that garden experience in any way; rather, I simply mean to offer a reason why I believe we err in not teaching the importance of the cross more explicitly and centrally along with the garden.

When I talk about the Atonement, I also reference the Sermon on the Mount – and I emphasize the command to be perfect. The wording in verse 48 says, “Be ye therefore perfect.” In the overall context of Chapter 5, I agree that this conclusion means that we become “perfect” by becoming the type of “blessed” person described in the opening verses of the sermon - the Beatitudes. Further, our footnotes for verse 48 define being perfect as being “complete, whole, fully developed” – and, in connection specifically to the garden and the cross, I re-word that as “finished”.

It only was at the end of his time on the cross that Jesus declared, “It is finished” – just before he “gave up the ghost”. In other words, it only was after the cross that the Atonement was complete – that Jesus fulfilled his own command to “be ye therefore perfect.”

I honor Gethsemane, but when we ignore Golgotha we worship an incomplete, partially developed, imperfect Savior and Redeemer.

There have been any number of pronouncements in the history of this world that carried special significance for those beyond the people to whom they were addressed. Among them, within just our Christian heritage, are the following:

"Multiply and replenish the earth."

"Moses, my son."

"For unto us a child is born."

"Thou art blessed among women."

"This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear him."

"It is finished."

All of these have grave import, but the greatest pronouncement in the history of the world might be simply:

"He is not here, for he is risen."

I simply add my voice here and state, with my own conviction, that, in a very real and powerful and important way:

He can be here, for he is risen.

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