We cannot encounter Jesus without encountering the cross. His person emanates the way of suffering. Through his sacrifice his great love for all people floods our hearts and becomes in us an urge to go out to save those who are in the grip of darkness. If we love Jesus, the desire to suffer for him will well up quite naturally. I cannot imagine how one can follow Jesus without a deep understanding for his way of suffering.
We constantly need the crucified Christ within us. To receive him we must become silent before God again and again. Christ wants to live in our hearts so that we are able to conquer all things. Through him everything receives its true meaning.
There is no other foundation for true peace of heart than unity with him. Only Christ can bring us to full trust in God. In him we find the sharpest judgment of wrath over all evil, but also the revelation of his loving grace.
The thought that God is all-loving can insulate us from the power of his touch. People know that God forgives sin, but they forget that he judges it too. There is something in modern thinking which rebels against the Atonement. Perhaps our idea of an all-loving God keeps us from wanting to face judgment. We think that love and forgiveness is all that is needed, yet that is not the whole Gospel – it makes God too human.
It is of crucial importance that the cross of Jesus Christ is in the center of our hearts – central to our calling, and central to our mission. The Lamb of God on the cross stands before the throne of God. (Rev. 5:6) The cross is the center of the universe. We must experience its meaning in its height, depth, and breadth as a mystical revelation through the Holy Spirit. It is not enough to believe it; we must ask God that we may be allowed to experience it in a living way.
We need to get past our personal struggles to experience the great thoughts of God. To experience personal salvation through the cross is important, but to remain at this stage is useless. The cross is so much greater than the personal; it embraces the whole earth and more than this earth.
There are secrets that only God knows. Christ’s death on the cross is one such mystery. The Bible says that through the cross not only this earth but also heaven and all the powers and principalities belonging to the angel world will be reconciled to God (Col. 1:20). We mortals, and perhaps even the angels, cannot know the mysteries that lie behind all this. But one thing we know: Christ overcame death, the last enemy. And through the cross something took place which had power far beyond the limits of our earth, far greater than our souls can comprehend.