I need to make a confession. I forget about the cross. I’m not talking about the one that is all over my home and office. That one (the empty one) is part of the fabric of my world. It’s the other one... the one with Jesus on it that doesn't stick with me. And every holy week, I am convicted by this forgetfulness.
I know the reason for the empty cross. I know Jesus is risen. I know that he is no longer on the cross and that the resurrection is key to salvation. The problem for me is that my empty cross allows me to forget about the gruesome, bloody torture that Jesus endured to provide for my sin. I forget about the back that was ripped to shreds by forty lashes with a cat of nine tails. I forget about the fact that he died from asphyxiation, and that every word spoken from the cross came at the cost of lifting himself up on the nails.
My forgetting about the terror of the cross makes me forget about the seriousness of sin. When the blood is out of sight, my sins just seem like little mistakes, a couple of “oops” along the way. I ask for forgiveness, if I think about it, and go about my day.
But the cross has another message altogether. Its message screams across millennia that sin is serious. Like the nails in Jesus' body, sin breaks things. It creates pain and death and causes people to lose the ones they love. When I look at the cross and see the blood of Jesus, I realize I have desensitized myself to sin. I have minimized its consequences in my mind and have allowed myself to think of salvation and forgiveness as common, cheap things when they are the most costly things in my world.
A friend of mine came up to me after talking about this and said that maybe the Catholics have it right. Maybe we need more crucifixes so that we cannot forget the sacrifice. Maybe.
Either way, my prayer this holy week is that God would help me not end up in the same place next year lamenting my desensitization.