As Jesus teaches us, for a grain of wheat to have life, it must first die. But upon its death, it is transformed into a stalk which produces fruit abundantly. So with Jesus, and so also with us, that death is the prerequisite to an abundant, transformative life.
Looking Through the Cross
The purpose of the Cross isn’t simply to overcome and redefine wisdom, evil, power, identity, suffering, ambition, and failure. Rather, the Cross does these things for the purpose of reconciling humanity both within itself and to God so that we may obtain the mystery of life eternal.
Through the Cross, our ambition is redirected from ourselves towards others and it is through the Cross that our failures, like Peters, are set aside and overcome.
The Cross, however, calls us not to an individualistic love of selfish ambition, but an ambitious love for others.
One of the points that Tomlin brings out in this chapter is that any discussion of Christ’s suffering on the cross must end with the Resurrection. There simply is no salvation in a Christ who only suffered and died for that would mean that death had ultimately triumphed.
At the Cross, we see a God who suffers as we suffer and a God who feels as abandoned as we do. We have a God who has assumed our human condition. In looking at the Cross, we know that God is with us because he has become one of us.
But can this new identity also be revealed by looking through the cross deeper into ourselves – not only externally but internally? Can Christ be found and make himself known not only from without but also from within?
If we simply identify as “Christian” as a way of separating ourselves over and against the “ungodly” then, although our identity has changed, the nature of our identity as a means of exclusion remains. Unlike other identities, to identify as Christian means to identify with those who aren’t.
In the Cross, however, we see a radical flattening of society so that even the difference in the power structures between slave and free disappear.