Pain of cross readies us for joy of Easter

Published 6:49 pm Saturday, March 12, 2016

With Easter just a couple weeks away, I thought this old column of mine might be appropriate. It was first published in 2013.

When I first saw the headline, I looked away without reading the story. I couldn’t bring myself to face the tragedy.

But a couple days later, my curiosity got the best of me. I wanted to know every sickening detail.

The headline read: Baby shot dead in stroller.

Two teenagers in Georgia are accused of fatally shooting a 13-month-old boy as his mother pushed him in a stroller.

The mother told reporters that the incident occurred as she was walking home from the post office.

“A boy approached me and told me he wanted my money, and I told him I didn’t have any money,” she said. “And he said, ‘Give me your money, or I’m going to kill you, and I’m going to shoot your baby and kill your baby,’ and I said, ‘I don’t have any money,’ and ‘Don’t kill my baby.'”

One of the teenagers tried to grab her purse and opened fire when she tried to tell him she had no money, she said. The mother said she was then shot in the leg.

She continued: “And then, all of a sudden, he walked over and he shot my baby in the face.”

The mother attempted CPR. Neighbors called 911. But it was no use.

What kind of person could shoot a 13-month-old in the face? What kind of person could stand there while someone else pulled the trigger? Is this the evil we now face? A tragedy like this speaks volumes about the world we live in.

But despite this, hope remains for this mother — and this world. It’s found in a man whose miraculous defeat of death will be celebrated on Easter.

While the miracle of Christ’s resurrection is certainly worthy of celebrating, we too often overlook what preceded that event. We are too quick to look past the pain of the cross to find the joy of the empty tomb.

Maybe we can’t bring ourselves to face the tragedy. Maybe it’s too horrible to look upon.

But without knowing the full measure of pain that Christ experienced, how can we fully appreciate his sacrifice? How can we ever know the full love of Christ?

I don’t think we can. And I think we minimize the sacrifice when we focus only on Sunday’s joy and ignore Friday’s pain.

Crucifixion was a deliberately slow and painful method of execution. It was not humane.

The Roman philosopher Cicero described crucifixion as “a most cruel and disgusting punishment.” He said, “the very mention of the cross should be far removed not only from a Roman citizen’s body, but from his mind, his eyes, his ears.”

While we will never know Christ’s cause of death on the cross, medical science has given us a few clues. Possibilities include heart failure, asphyxiation, blood loss, the list goes on and on.

Cicero was partly correct. It was a cruel and disgusting punishment, but it should never be removed from our minds.

And when we are reminded of the just how horrible this world can be, let us remember where our hope is found.  Yes, it is found in Easter’s triumphant resurrection. But it’s also found on a bloodied cross.

 

Luke Horton is the publisher of the Daily Leader.