Karl Barth offers wise counsel this Easter weekend. He warns that we must not fixate on the cross alone, “like the ox which is bound to a stake and, driven by the owner’s whip, has to trot round and round the turning wheel.” Rather we must remember that we stand on the other side of Easter morning, and only consider Christ’s suffering in light of his triumphant resurrection. His cross and resurrection form “an irreversible sequence.”
Barth explains: “There is no preaching of the cross or faith in the cross in abstracto. For that reason there are serious objections to all representations of the crucified Christ as such. There is no going back behind Easter morning. To the extent that they may contain or express such a going back, all theologies or pieties or exercises or aesthetics which center on the cross–however grimly in earnest they may be–must be repudiated at once. ‘He is not here. He is risen.’”
“We must understand clearly what such a going back involves. It involves going back to the night of Golgotha as not yet lit up by the light of Easter Day. It involves going back and into the event of judgment not yet proclaimed and revealed as that of salvation. It involves going back into the sphere where the divine Yes to man which He Himself alone can reveal is still inaccessibly concealed under His No. It involves going back into the death in which all flesh is hopelessly put to death in and with the Son of God.”
“…Jesus lives–as the One who was crucified for us, as the One who has made an end for us and of us, as the One who once and for all in His resurrection–preventing any going back or looking back–has made a new beginning with us. Jesus lives–as the Lord, not as an indolent, easy-going Lord who invites us to be easy-going, but as a stern Lord. But He is stern in that He prevents us from going back or looking back, demanding that we should take up our little cross–our cross, not His–and follow Him, but follow Him where He Himself has long since carried His own, by way of Golgotha to the throne of God, to lay it down there with all the sin and guilt of the whole world, with out death, and to receive in our name as the obedient Son of the Father the grace of everlasting life” (Church Dogmatics IV/1, 344-46).
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