What does the Cross mean to me? That is a little bit of a moving target.
I have an M.Div. I am ordained. I learned words like “atonement,” “reconciliation,” “redemption” and more that I don’t remember.
The question “what is the meaning of the Cross to you?” seems to beg some kind of theological response. What, besides the actual events of that Good Friday, occurred that explains the eternal consequences for me as relates to my Creator?
For the last several years I would have pointed to the forgiveness of my sin. God keeps exposing the dark parts of my heart and bringing them to the light in a way that makes the sacrifice of Jesus so necessary and so real. The Cross is my daily hope for restoration to the Father. It is my chance to start anew, to serve again, to know the Father’s love in a way that offers the courage and calling to reengage in the Christian life.
But this year, I have a new insight about what the Cross means. It means that perfect love triumphs over sin and death. The fallenness of this world will not have the last say. Health that fails, sin that marks and controls and stains, disappointing relationships and careers – none of these will have the final word. Jesus triumphs. We get a new heaven and a new earth that will bring all that we have hoped life would have been. Our longings for life will be realized. Jesus triumphs. Life works, and it works because we are rightly restored to right relationship with the Father through the Son.
As I get older, the end game matters more. I am still very grateful that the Cross makes repentance possible. I can face my sin, seek forgiveness, be wiped clean and start again. Nothing is too big, too shameful, too long-standing or too dark to be covered. In that moment of repentance I am made new once again.
But I still know that I will go back there. I know that I will fail and that I will be failed. I know that my own body is declining and I know that some, even many of my earthly dreams will never happen. I know that this world is broken, and while pieces of it will be repaired here and now, much will not. But I also know that Jesus triumphs on Calvary’s Cross. I know that the momentary restoration of personal “rightness” will become permanent. I know that the glimpse I have of the world I long for will in fact happen (not just the way I envision it, but certainly better). It will be a world marked by love, perfect love, from the Father and Son but freely exchanged with one another. We will experience the triumph of grace. It will be so cool!
Palmer Trice is an ordained Presbyterian minister. He is married to Lynne, has three children and has been in Charlotte since 1979. In his spare time, Palmer enjoys golf, tennis, walking and reading.