Summary: WE do not desire a cross because it means we suffer. The Christ on the cross is an image of suffering, image of surrender, an image of servant hood, and the cross of Christ is an image of sufficiency.
“We have taken him off the cross?” Mark 8:34
Most pictures we see of the cross of Christ is the cross is displayed as empty.
1. Image 1 of Isenhiem Altar piece The cross of Christ is an image of suffering
• The Isenheim Altarpiece is an image of Christ on the cross which allowed people to see the image of suffering. Jesus suffered on that cross.
• -The purpose of the Alter piece was that the sick could find healing
• One scholar wrote what the sick saw was "the most gruesome, tortured, agonized, tormented, almost unbearable, crucifixion scene ever painted. There, under a monstrous crown of thorns, was a dangling, pitiful body with twisted limbs, covered with countless lacerations and rivulets of blood. The scene was one of unbearable agony."
2. The cross of Christ is an image of surrender Christ humbled himself Philippians 2:8
• Arthur Pink wrote, “Growth in grace is growth downward; it is the forming of a lower estimate of ourselves; it is a deepening realization of our nothingness; it is a heartfelt recognition that we are not worthy of the least of God’s mercies
3. Image 2. Of Isenheim altar piece The cross of Christ is an image of Servanthood 1john 3:16
• Paul understood the significance of Christ on the cross. The gospel shows us in Paul's words, "a more excellent way," a way not of health, wealth and happiness, but of servanthood.
4. The cross of Christ is an image of sufficiency it is all that is needed it is all that is necessary.
5. What we can learn from the Isenheim Altarpiece ?
• We learn Before Jesus could reach "the joy set before him," Jesus had to pass through the pain of many "dark nights" and "shadowed valleys."
• WE learn the cross is "the costly grace of God" St. Augustine talked about "costly grace" Discipleship, servanthood, costs us everything. Everything must go, he said.
• Dorothea Soelle says," Genesis 2:25 conveys this powerfully in the image of nakedness: "And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed."
• To be naked means to be without protection; it is to be unarmed. It requires our surrendering the "weapons" that we usually carry around with us. My credit card, my doctorate, the books I have written -- the whole fortress in which I live -- are all "clothes" that I have to get rid of in order to love . The cross is costly grace God does not favor us with ease. God does not favor us with comfort.
• She continues to say: “we learn the cross is a call to disarmament, called to defenselessness, called to discipleship.”
• One theologian said, “We learn the cross is no promise of success, nor a promise of prosperity --or popularity -- or pleasure. The cross can only promise you hardship, weariness, suffering,”
• Jesus never came off the cross he said, "Not my will, but thy will be done"? Nothing more. Nothing less. Nothing else.
• We learn there is suffering first but there is " joy unspeakable and full of glory coming
• We learn there is surrender but the result we will hear the music of angel choirs;
• We learn the cost of servanthood but this will result in “Well done thy good and faithful servant enter into the joy of the lord. WE learn the sufficiency of the cross