No, the deeper we go, and as the layers fall away, we move to something greater. He gets larger, more uncontrollable, more inconceivable, and more wonderful than our minds can imagine. We are the ones left to weeble and wobble.
Yet, there is a seed, a core to the historical Jesus as well as the exalted Christ of our faith. It is the element of sacrifice. There, at the end of it all, when the onion is peeled, is a cross. Jesus, for two millennia, has been marked by this instrument of death. More accurately, he has been marked by the cross since before the threads of time were ever spun. He was “slain before the foundations of the world,” John the Revelator said.
There is a cross hanging above my desk where these words are being typed. I sometimes wear a crucifix around my neck. I even have a Celtic version of the symbol inked into my skin. And while I behold the cross every day, I cannot take hold of all its implications.
C. S. Lewis challenged us to look at the cross, not as a display of godly anger toward Jesus or the world, but as a Lover absorbing the shame and humiliation of betrayal and unfaithfulness. Lewis said, “Jesus shows on the cross that God’s love is not about violence and retaliation. The cross is the only true language of forgiveness.”
That stick of wood is a display of agonizing love shown to a world lost in self-centeredness and self-delusion, a world that has done nothing but be disloyal to and reject its Maker. That cross shows us how far love will go: God, humiliated and bleeding in a suffering mess, bearing up underneath the betrayal of His own creation. If you can get to the bottom of that, please let me know. You’re a smarter person than most.
Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, pastor, and author of multiple books. You can read more and receive regular e-columns in your inbox at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.