Where was God at the Cross
Philip Yancey has a gift for articulating the knotty issues of faith. In his book, Disappointment with God, he poses three questions that Christians wonder but seldom ask aloud: Is God unfair? Does God care? Is he there? In this profoundly personal book, these questions are answered with clarity, richness, and biblical certainty. Philip Yancey points to the odd disparity between our concept of God and the realities of life. ‘Why, if God is so hungry for relationship with us, does he seem so distant? Why, if God cares for us, do bad things happen? What can we expect from God after all?’ In his book, Yancey ‘points us beyond life’s disappointments and the cynicism they can breed to a stronger, wiser faith, a confidence in God’s deep love for us, and a thirst to reach not just for what God gives, but for who God is.’
We are not immune to pain; we are not strangers to suffering. Hence, these are not questions with which we are unfamiliar. These are not theoretical questions. Perhaps we do not articulate them this way. But, at some time, we have probably wondered: ‘Where was God when _____ happened?’ Indeed, not so very long ago we heard these screams when several thousand Americans were brutally murdered in the twin towers on 9/11 by terrorists. Not a few people across our country were crying out ‘Where was God?’
We find a situation of similar magnitude in our text this week. This Lord’s Day we will consider Mark’s account of the crucifixion in Mark 15:21-39. It looks like the Jewish and Roman steamroller have rolled over Jesus. Where is God on that dark day? On that bad Friday (which we now call, ‘Good Friday’), where is God? He seems to be nowhere near. Was he there and we simply missed him? Where is God at the cross?
When we look at the cross, God seems to be absent. But, what if we looked more closely? Would we discover that the God whom we thought was absent, was there all along? Was He there, but hidden? You will want to make sure and join us this Sunday as we look more closely at the text to discover that God is there at the cross. God is present; but His presence was in ways we might not have perceived before.
Now, If God is present at the cross in ways we may not have first noticed, is it not also possible to be the same in the circumstances of Jesus’ people? That is, when God seems to be absent and distant He may be closer than you’ve ever dreamed. This would be a good weekend to bring a friend along with you as we learn how to discern God’s presence in the midst of suffering, brokenness and heartache.
This Sunday is Palm Sunday, and the celebration of the triumphal entry of Christ leading to the week of his passion (suffering) and cross. Let me encourage you and your family to mark out some time this week to focus on the themes of the cross of Jesus Christ and his resurrection, even as you prepare with your family to celebrate Easter morning. Throughout the week, several churches in our area, and around Birmingham, are offering special services, particularly on Good Friday (you may want to visit Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Gardendale for their Good Friday services @ 11am & 7pm). Whether you participate in different services throughout the week or spend your time in solitude and silence, do take some time to reflect on what God has done for your redemption.
I remember you always with joy and thanksgiving in prayer to the Lord. It is such a privilege and joy to serve the Kingdom of Christ alongside of you. May God grant us reformation!
Soli Deo Gloria,