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by Prentice Meador
The story goes this way...
He is remembered for his cunning and able statesmanship at the Congress of Vienna (1814-1815), which was dominated by the four major powers who defeated Napoleon. His name: Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord. Even though France had caused all the turmoil and should have been severely punished, she got off lightly due to the diplomacy of Talleyrand. Later, a Frenchman asked the astute Talleyrand for his advice on how to start a new religion. You might want to be crucified and be raised on the third day! he responded.
When God goes to work, its awesome! Mysterious! Far-reaching! Beyond our comprehension! No human could have foreseen salvation through a cross! Who would have thought of great work being done in a cemetery? Only God connects the dots of crucifixion and resurrection.
But why was God at work in Christ? After creation, why didnt God simply withdraw? God could have allowed people to go their own way.
Instead, he set about to accomplish something more with his creation. Far from withdrawing, God became deeply and compassionately involved with his lonely, guilty, fearful, and insecure human creatures. Deep within him is the urge to mend broken people.
How is God at work on the cross of Jesus? Consider two insights: (1) hate never looks more like a loser than when it wins; (2) love never looks more like a winner than when defeated.
In any given moment, a nail, a scourge, a bitter cup, or a hammers blow may appear to win. A good life breathes its last breath. Hatreds way of getting back at people is almost unbelievable. It can, in the name of right, produce the greatest wrongs. No matter what it looks like it is doing, hate can only destroy; it has no power to build. Hate can seduce, but it cannot convince. Hate can manipulate, but it has no power to create trust or commitment. Thats the scene on Friday at the cross.
Love, on the other hand, has the power to endure. Reviled, love does not return the same. Hurt, it does not retaliate. Bruised and defeated on a cross, love proves victorious. For, beyond the moment of death on a cross, it endures as self-giving love the greatest power ever known on earth. Love rises to endure never to be defeated. Thats the scene on Sunday morning at the tomb. Ernest Freemont Tittle frames it in eloquent language:
In the face of his enemies, Jesus tells several stories that astonish; parables that remind his harshest critics that God cares about sinners and that his grace is not only amazing and mystifying, but it is made powerful by his sacrificial love. Those stories will have to wait until next time, but if you want to sneak a peak at them, go ahead and read Matthew 20:1-16; 21:28-32; and Luke 7:36-50. Just remember, God is at work, and nothing, not even our religious preconceptions, will ever be the same.
(Next week, Part 2)
* Ernest Freemont Thrie, Jesus After Nineteen Centuries (New York:Abingdon Press, 1932), 142-143.
Author: Prentice Meador
Publication Date: April 28, 2001
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