There is, of course, one other reason why it is so difficult to find ourselves in the narrative of the Cross. It's because of all the places we could be in this story, and we've looked at several of those possibilities in the past few days, the place where we most truly are is in the heart of Christ Himself.
In this one scene, this one grand scene, this turning point of not only history's story but our own stories, as well, we are so wrapped up into the heart of God that His story and our story are inseparable.
After all, isn't that what the Cross is all about?
God didn't come to the Cross just to prove that He's God, as though if He could show you His amazing nature, you'd just have to love Him. It's not like some New Testament version of the mountain where God shows up and defeats Baal in consuming fire; no, the consuming fire on the Cross was His own burning heart. God came to the Cross not to demonstrate His God-ness, but His goodness. And in the same breath that He declares that He is worthy, He says that you are, too.
It's how it has to be, really. Because you can say all day that God is loving, but until you are loved, what does it mean? You can say all day that He is gracious, but until you receive that grace, who cares? It does not matter much if God is who He says He is if you are not also who He says you are. In the Cross, this is asked and answered.
This is not to say that God is nothing without us. Not at all. God does not require men in order to be God; He was God over the formless and empty before there ever was anything at all, and He will continue to be God long after we are gone from this place. So do not misunderstand the theology here.
But without man, there is no Cross. Without our stories carried in His heart, there's no reason to walk this worn, dusty road. Without our wounds crying out, there's no reason to shed His blood. God doesn't carry the Cross for the formless and empty; He carries His Cross for the bruised and the broken.
That's you. That's me.
I don't think we truly understand this. I think we say so often that "Jesus did for you and me" that it's become essentially meaningless, that we've forgotten the very real heartache, the very real burden, the very real blood that He shed for a very real reason. Somehow, we've taken ourselves out of the equation in the same breath we put ourselves into it. He died for us, without our having to be there. He died for us, then wrapped His death with a bow and gave it as a gift. He died for us, meanwhile, somewhere back in Galilee....
And then we continue to ask where we are, who we are, in the story of the Cross.
When will we learn? When will we remember? When will we dare again to walk that worn, dusty road ourselves, to look up at our Savior as He hangs broken, bleeding, to gaze into His eyes and see there His love reflected, and to know that this...this is where we are in the story of the Cross - in the very heart of Jesus as He makes this stunning declaration: I am Who I say I am, and you are who I say you are.
And here....here, our stories are inextricably woven together.