the reality of The Cross

Written by Jessica Buttram

I like chocolate, gourmet cheese, and my kids. Not all at once, and not in that particular order.

April 21, 2011


With Easter Sunday just around the corner, and the relevance it has Christians, I found myself feeling a bit more reflective than usual. So hunker down, boys and girls.

I, for one, have always, always struggled with a sense of mediocrity. It’s certainly not the worst internal argument one can have, but it’s mine, so back off. It permeates most aspects of my life, and is sort of an undercurrent, a theme, to how I live my life. There are many things I wish I were better at: writing, art, music, mothering. But the one place I feel the greatest sadness in the midst of this mediocrity is in my faith.

I have truly, unequivocally, unintentionally, and irreparably encountered Jesus Christ. I have walked tightly bound to Him, I have tested tentatively His claim on me, I have learned a great deal about His love, His humanity, His divinity. I have experienced His grace, His beauty, His artistry. I have been touched by His gifts, by His gifted. I have accepted His existence and sovereignty as Truth. I have even denied His claims as Savior, only to come crawling back.

I find myself asking: how does one so undeniably come face-to-face with Christ and yet remain satisfied, even complacent?

Easter is days away, and I find myself on its threshold this year, every year, unprepared. How is it I find myself so blasé, so unmoved by the reality of the cross? And on the heels of that, how do I reach for the right amount of awe, of reverence? Rather, how do I overcome?

So what do I give, how do I draw closer to the heart of God? How do I show proper attention, respect, to what occurred years ago in Calvary? I can never wrap my mind around the “why” — my heart and mind are far from capable — but maybe, possibly, begin to understand the “how.”

For generations, literally thousands of years, mankind reached for God through a smokescreen. GOD, worthy only of the purest adoration…an uncountable number of blood sacrifices made, the incense of fresh, pure blood completely necessary to simply mask the stench of human behavior, our very unchangeable core. It was simply unavoidable. The Lord, a star-crossed Lover, desperate for us, but hindered by His very nature, rendered helpless. The one thing God cannot do, deny Himself, deny who He is.

For those thousands of years, these blood sacrifices ugly and necessary, the high price for a few moments in God’s favor, until the stink of human nature overwhelms the warm fragrance of sacrifice. I can hardly imagine the frustration, the heartbreak of the Lord, having to draw the veil shut too quickly, much, much too soon, the fellowship between Creator and creation cut too short, the passage into God’s throne room sweet but sadly temporary. As the blood cools, the unfiltered thoughts, darkest acts of sin, waft up, and God must turn away in disgust. His Majesty torn – desperate for our adoration, repulsed by our action.

Imagine now His planning, His scheming, for more time with His beloveds, no more stolen moments, but an eternity, an Ultimate Sacrifice, One whose blood will not run dry, will not cake, will not lose its fragrance, One who is more powerful and potent than even the dirtiest of sinful stench, a perfume not to mask the odor, but to wash it completely away.

When Christ came to earth, from the very first beat of His human heart, He was fully intended to be that Sacrifice.

He willingly spilled His blood to cover our sin, not just the sin of those who jeered Him, who cast the stones, stole His clothing, scoffed at His claims of divinity, demanded in crazed fervor for His death, His humiliation, but for the sin we walk in today, tomorrow, constantly, unintentionally, the struggles we feebly attempt to overcome, the pathetic mediocrity we wallow in, the lack of grandeur, the fading awe, the half-hearted reverence.

His blood, today, tomorrow, still warm, still sweet, still washing away the rotten stench of our sins as we unabashedly walk in God’s favor, forever beneath the tide of Jesus’ blood, never having to turn away, never being turned away, never more than a thought, a whispered prayer, away from the Holiest of Holies; our star-crossed Lover who so, so desperately and willingly, bought an eternity with His beloveds. The cost another sacrifice, the cost a human sacrifice, the price the only One worthy of such favor…the price His beloved Son, divine, heavenly, powerful, good.

How, then, does one remain unmoved by such a bold and urgent act?

How does one ignore such devotion?

And yet the Lord, constantly taking that gamble, the prize being me. He didn’t hedge His bets – I am far from worth it. God willingly — desperately, feverishly — traded His Son, His perfect, pure, complete Son, for me, dry, ashamed, damaged, weak, fickle, regrettable, inconsistent, and average in every way.

How do I make that my reality? Not just a revelation, an afterthought, a reflection, but a way of living my life? How do I turn the reality of the cross into just that – my reality, my identity? Do I just allow its grandness to overwhelm me, sweep me away, fully aware of my unworthiness, fully aware of its absurdity, Truth only because God is in the equation?

Or do I ignore the nonsensical, throwing out my inhibitions, and strive passionately to be an active part of that reality? How do I passionately live as Christ so passionately died? To try, to try to make myself worthy of such generous love – to try and live up to the bigger, grander picture that God sees when He looks at me and does not forget. To be more than just a hapless, helpless recipient, to strive for almost equal footing in this love story…

God intended each of us for greatness – there is no doubt in my mind. He tucked that greatness in us, He wove that grandeur into our core, He hints at our infiniteness, He nudges us into the spotlight, He urges us to clothe ourselves in the beauty, to put on our God-images, to step into Him again, as intended, as we were created to do.

Finally, finally, the picture is complete. Finally, the sacrifice is sufficient, permanent.

How can I remain unchanged, untouched, when our very existence, our very nature is now coated with an everlasting fragrance, Jesus’ blood sweeter, stronger than anything in this world, sweeter, stronger than even the deepest atrocities we are capable of?

How does each day remain mundane when the reality is the exact opposite? How can I settle for mediocrity while knowing, no matter how inconsistently I know, that the Creator of things much lovelier gazes upon me with devotion, longing, even jealousy? How can I settle for mediocrity when He expects, sees, much, much more, because of how He formed me? How can I accept myself as forgettable when God’s very undivided attention is on me, His pursuit passionate, His declaration clear?

How is that anything but the reality of the cross?


1 Comment

  1. Ellie



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the reality of The Cross

by Jessica Buttram time to read: 6 min