“When I survey the wondrous cross, on which the prince of glory died…” so the song goes. It puzzles me how someone of royal lineage would die in such a crude way, and that by choice. My experience of power and those who have power is that it is meant to insulate you from discomfort, grief and pain. Who discards power and chooses to be killed by peasants in an utterly humiliating fashion?
The conundrum gets more interesting when you pause a moment longer to consider the One who died. The prince of glory. God himself. How could God die? It feels like we’re standing on the precipice of a chasm of wonder and fathomless depths. He surrendered Himself to death, even death on a cross. How though? The mechanics elude me, but like Lewis said, understanding precisely how the thing works isn’t the be all and end all- it just works. So, here is a God who has all power, yet He casts/sets aside His life, power, majesty and subjects Himself to death and humiliation. It says a lot about Him. It also says a lot about us. I wouldn’t do such a thing. The reason I know is that in everyday interactions with people I tend not to relinquish power. I want the upper hand. I want to be the smartest in the room. I don’t want to be belittled, or ignored, or treated in a way less than my rank deserves (whatever that may be- it varies depending on whose company I’m in). Maybe I grab onto power because I have too little? Perhaps, but that’s arguing contrary to the facts as they are- I can only speak from what I am and have done.
The humility I see quite clearly evinced by Jesus in His life and death is something I don’t have by nature. And I suspect I’m not alone in this. I’ve been pondering the various ‘revolutions’ going on in North Africa at the moment. On my continent, leaders seem quite reluctant to step down from power, to become plain citizens again after having graced the halls of power. Would they ever bear a cross, public humiliation? In many cases, leaders fear prosecution for crimes that they perpetrated- would this not be a just cross to bear though? Unlike Jesus who allowed himself to be punished unjustly, they would be suffering a humiliation that has been earned. The wonder of the cross is that God would subject Himself to us, allow us to kill Him. That is awesome, in the traditional sense of that word. The horror it reveals is us- our desperate wickedness, desire to hold onto power by any means, our lack of humility. It shows us as we truly are- people that would rather kill God than yield to Him; in other words, power hungry little despots, rebels holed up in trench warfare against the King of the universe. Oh, the horror. The horror.