For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Colossians 1: 19, 20

 

My mind has a hard time connecting the idea of peacemaking and the image of the cross. Sure, we wear crosses around our necks, carry them with us, and hang them on our walls, and all of these uses are comfortably harmless as they don’t come close to suggesting the pain, torture, and violence that is the nature of the real thing. In the Roman world where Jesus lived the cross was an instrument of terror. The death that ensued for its victims was drawn out and brutal, and the Romans set up these scenes of execution drama in the most public of places so that no one could miss their intended message which was one of domination and power mixed with a swift and merciless response to any opposition.

 

The violence of the Roman cross is a striking reflection of the nature of evil itself and that nature is the image of its author, Satan. This is the same evil energy that boils up in the rampages of destruction that seem to be a constant part of our world’s narrative. It is also on view in the oppression, hatred, and greed that people engage in with each other. These are some of the more overt expressions of Satan’s animosity toward God that we can observe and that have a powerful impact upon all inhabitants of the earth. There are many other such manifestations of the endless war that Satan is waging against God. Most of them are considerably more subtle that the cross, itself.

 

All of the damage, the destruction, and the pain that come about in our lives exist as a result of this elemental conflict between the righteous and the profane. However, Christ has changed both the outcome and the nature of this conflict. There never was a moment when God and His righteousness were not the victors, but Christ clearly defined God’s method for bringing about that result, and He has set into unceasing motion that final and absolute defeat of Satan. In the sacrifice of Jesus, the spotless Son, on that cross, God transformed the hour of execution and that instrument of torture and shame into the moment and the location where God’s mercy and grace were poured out in that final act of reconciliation so that all who come to Christ are enfolded into the perfect peace that is the air that we breath in God’s kingdom.

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