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Reflecting on the Cross amidst Muslims
The missionary among Moslems (to whom the Cross of Christ is a stumbling-block and the atonement foolishness) is driven daily to deeper meditation on this mystery of redemption and to a stronger conviction that here is the very heart of our message and our mission. The secret of the missionary passion.
If the Cross of Christ is anything to the mind, it is surely everything—the most profound reality and the sublimest mystery. One comes to realize that literally all the wealth and glory of the gospel centres here. The Cross is the pivot as well as the centre of New Testament thought. It is the exclusive mark of the Christian faith, the symbol of Christianity and its cynosure.
The more unbelievers deny its crucial character, the more do believers find in it the key to the mysteries of sin and suffering. We rediscover the apostolic emphasis on the Cross when we read the gospel with Moslems. We find that although the offense of the Cross remains, its magnetic power is irresistible.
The following chapters are the result of meditation on the passion of our Lord and His Death on the Cross in the midst of men who deny the historicity of the crucifixion and the necessity of the atonement. But the Moslem is not alone in his denial. The message of the Cross has always been an outrage and a scandal, a superfluity or foolishness to the worldly-wise. Yet it is Christ on the Cross who will finally draw all men to Himself. Under the shadow of the Cross is rest and peace.
The Glory of the Cross is as real as its Shame; and to meditate on the shame is to see the glory. The Cross interprets sin and righteousness and love. It is the power of God and the wisdom of God. Its shadow is the longest shadow in the world, because it fell even on the Resurrection morning. “He showed them His hands and His side.” Did He ever show them to you? Then were the disciples glad when they saw the scars of the Risen Lord. “Far be it from me to glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ through which the world hath been crucified unto me and I unto the world.”
“There was a knight of Bethlehem,
His wealth was tears and sorrows;
His men-at-arms were little lambs;
His trumpeters were sparrows.
His castle was a wooden cross
On which He hung on high;
His helmet was a crown of thorns
Whose crest did touch the sky.”
This article comes from the preface of Samuel Zwemer’s book “The Glory of the Cross.” You can read the book here.