A beaten, bleeding man struggles up a mountainside. A King too weak to carry His own cross. He is mocked. Abused. He weeps, saves a thief, prays for his transgressors...then dies.
That was my primary view of the Savior for years. I liked seeing Him on that cross. I worshipped God because of what he did. Not because of who He was. I kept Him in a box...a "suffering servant." I liked that. I understood that. And it made it about me.
Over the last couple of years, God has revealed Himself to me in an entirely new way. He has taken Himself out of the box and become bigger than I ever dreamed. God is holy. Righteous. Judge. Sovereign. Mighty. Powerful. I was hesitant to embrace that God. If He is a righteous Judge, how is He the same compassionate, merciful Jesus who saved me? Then God opened my eyes and I saw something I'd never seen before. How could He save me if He wasn't mighty?
He hung on that cross because He sits on a throne.
Consider the empty tomb. It's always been my favorite part of the Gospel. What good is the cross without the empty tomb? Yet I was missing the most important piece of the resurrection. It is God's strength exemplified. His power does not negate His compassion any more than the empty tomb negates the cross. It completes it.
These attributes of Jesus are demonstrated simultaneously in the healing of the leper. Jesus could have healed him without touching him. With a word...with a look...with a breath. His power is in the fact he was able to heal him. His compassionate is manifest in the touch. A man who hadn't been touched in years was touched by a wandering teacher from Nazereth...who just happened to be the Savior of the world.
I don't have all the answers. I can't comprehend how He's sovereign, yet it's our responsibility to choose whom we will serve. I can't quite understand why this Righteous Judge sought out the woman at the well. And I definitely can't wrap my head around the all-knowing, all-powerful, all-mighty God dying a criminal's death to redeem His children. If God were small enough to be understood, He wouldn't be big enough to be worshipped.
The cross. We wear it around our neck. We frame it and hang it on our walls. We mount it behind the pulpit at our places of worship. We hold it up as the principal symbol of our faith...and rightly so. For without the cross there can be no redemption. But without the Throne there can be no Redeemer.