For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. – 1 Corinthians 1:18
A few years ago around Christmas time, I visited the nearby cathedral. As I sat down in the cathedral, my eyes immediately fell on a life-size figure of baby Jesus lying on a bed of straw in the middle of the steps leading up to the altar. On top of the steps, a mere two steps further up, stood a golden crucifix. The positioning of the crucifix was such that the dying Jesus seemed to be looking out over the infant in the crib. It was as though death was peeking down from the cross on the beauty of Immanuel lying helplessly in the manger.
As I sat there contemplating that scene, it occurred to me that right there, between those two steps, lay the entire history of salvation. I was looking at birth and death, the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega. I was looking at the beauty of Christmas overshadowed by the terror of Good Friday. But I was also looking at the same man some thirty years apart: one, a baby, with arms stretched out in a gesture of welcome and anticipation, the other, a grown-up, with arms stretched out in an act of ultimate surrender, quivering in agony and unable to support the weight of his body much longer.
The Living Bible translates 1 Corinthians 1:18 as “I know very well how foolish it sounds to those who are lost, when they hear that Jesus died to save them. But we who are saved recognize this message as the very power of God.” That day, I recognized that message in a cathedral – a cathedral whose majesty itself acts as a testament to the impact of the life lived between those two steps.