Violence really gets to me. My husband often laughs at my reaction to movie scenes, TV shows, and CSI commercials: gasping, covering my eyes, and cowering in fetal position at sights that to him (and probably most of America) seem relatively mild. Even hard tackles during NFL games set my teeth on edge!
And so the Cross—the mind-numbingly painful and brutal reality of it all—well, it’s hard for me to swallow.
Several years back when The Passion of the Christ came out on DVD, we bought a copy. My bright idea was to watch it every Good Friday as an aid in contemplating Christ’s suffering and death.
It literally took me four years to follow up on that idea. For four Good Fridays in a row, despite my determination to go through with it, I just couldn’t bring myself to watch it. (I’d seen it in the theater, so I knew—very distinctly—what I was avoiding.)
The Crucifixion was not pretty and worship-inspiring, like some beautiful serene-faced marble sculpture of Christ on the cross. The reality of the Crucifixion is intense pain, blood, and gore—complete agony.
But it’s not just the violence itself that’s upsetting and unsettling. It’s why that violence happened that can be so difficult to come to terms with.
Here at my desk, it feels somewhat safe, spiritual, and academic to think and write about the Crucifixion—how through that act Jesus paid the penalty for our sin and vanquished death’s power in our lives. How on that cross Jesus bridged the gap between humanity and God, enabling us to have a restored and intimate relationship with our Creator.1