The Easter cross … manifest love

By Myron Godinho

 

Myron Godinho hails from Bahrain in the Persian Gulf. Presently he is studying Medicine at the Melaka-Manipal Medical College, in Karnataka, India. A youth leader, Myron has many interests including music, debating and theology.

Each Easter shines forth like a light at the end of the tunnel, resplendent like a rainbow after the rain. However, without a preceding Good Friday there would never have been an Easter.  With no death there would be no resurrection.  It is true that Jesus promised eternal life to all who follow him, but following him, he said, also meant each person taking up their cross, and denying themselves for love’s sake. (see Luke 9:23).

I find it marvelous that ‘perfect love’ loves ‘till the end

In his Gospel (John 13:1) the evangelist tells us that as Jesus realized that ‘His hour had come’, he would love ‘those who were his own’ with a ‘perfect love’. This last phrase, ‘perfect love’, is more often translated as ‘till the end’.  I find it marvelous that ‘perfect love’ loves ‘till the end’. The God revealed in John is indeed Perfect Love.

Perfect love casts out fear
                                                                                - 1 John 4:18

Even more marvelous, is the way that Jesus describes his relationship to his Father (John 5:19). He says: ‘the Son can do nothing on his own; he does only what he sees his Father doing. What the Father does, the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing.’

While this might sound ‘new’ to modern ears, Jews listening to Jesus at that time might have shrugged their shoulders and chuckled among themselves. They might have said, ‘So what?’ or ‘Of course!’  They well knew that Jewish fathers had for generations taught their sons their trade and given them a code of conduct. Likely it was a trade and code that their fathers had in turn taught them. It was a generational thing

John highlights Jesus’ perfect love

Jesus we know was speaking on a different level. John has Jesus speaking out of an awareness of his union with the Father. ‘I and the Father are one…’ (John 10:30) and ‘if you have seen me, you have seen the Father… ’(John 14:8-11). If to be a good father was to pass on the family traditions and trade, then to be a good son would be to become an image of the Father. This is why the Son gained the right to inherit the Father’s ‘name’, the surname, because he successfully becomes the “exact likeness” (or, ‘Spirit and image’ - Hebrews 1:3) of His Father, bearing the father’s nature.  Jesus assumes this when he prays, ‘…your name, the name you gave me…’ (John 17:6)

So if Jesus only does ‘what he sees the Father doing’, it is clear that Jesus has come to be the visible image of the invisible Father; indeed he said ‘the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me’ (John 16:27). Given the way John builds his case, it should come as no surprise that it is near the end of Jesus life, when the Cross before him, that John highlights Jesus’ perfect love (John 13:1).

It is not true the love of God could only come to us through suffering. The Gospels make the point that the sufferings of Jesus were occasioned by his closeness to the poor and the outcastes. They show how Jesus’ choices on behalf of ordinary little people threatened the entrenched power of the leaders. His suffering was not a prerequisite for showing his love, but it gives full witness to how much he loved.

Christians choose the loving way, even if it is hard

In turn the followers of Jesus become an expression of Christ’s love in the true worship of relating to all, especially the poor and the outcasts. True Love – God-Love – at the cross is, through the resurrection, among us still. So when Christians pour out their lives offering true worship to the Father, they become themselves images of the Father. They become his children and heirs to His inheritance. To be a child of God is to be an image of the Father who is love.

Living a life of love will often require sacrifice – choosing integrity rather than ease, especially when no-one is watching. Sometimes, people choose the hard way simply because it’s harder. But that is not the Christian way. Christians choose the loving way, even if it is hard.

If in reaching out to others, especially the poor and broken, if Christians find themselves between a rock and a hard place, if they find their backs to the wall, if they find themselves being poured out in their loving  efforts, then, St. Paul says, their suffering is one with Christ’s; it completes Christ’s suffering (Col.1:24).

Paul points out that in ‘the Body of Christ’ we bear sufferings as Christ did: His redemptive work continues on through us – hence we become ‘co-labourers with Christ’ (1 Cor 3:9). For it was ‘through sufferings that [Jesus] learned what true Obedience was’ (Hebrews 5:8-9) making him his Father’s Son. Suffering for love’s sake will do the same for us.

This is a Resurrection. It is new life

The word ‘suffering’ as it appears in the scripture is a dramatic word. For some maybe it conjures up images of martyrdom and torture for the faith’s. But in the lives of most people suffering will appear more modestly - daily routine, difficult children, testy colleagues, an arrogant boss, pesky relatives.

In whatever way suffering may enter people’s lives, they can consciously join it with Christ’s sufferings, offering it all with ‘the work of human hands’ to become the bread of life and humanity’s spiritual drink.

I am convinced that Christ’s sacrifice of perfect love, and our sufferings joined to his, ensure his Cross is firmly planted in the midst of the Easter story.

So, what is Easter? It is not God bringing Jesus back to life – that would be resuscitation. No, this is a Resurrection. It is new life. As Paul writes, baptised into Christ’s death, we are raised with him into new life.
This Easter, may you and I learn to ‘suffer’ joyfully, as the saints have done for centuries. Then may we come to see that God’s Glory is present every time we choose to love as Jesus loved. And he has loved us as the Father has loved him.

I love you, just as the Father loves me
                                                           -John 15:9