Brennan Manning on the Cross

In 1963 a friend gave me an expensive crucifix. A French artist had carved in wood, carved very delicately, the hands of Jesus on the cross. On Good Friday the Roman artists carved—O God, how they carved!—our brother Jesus with no trouble at all. No art was needed to bang in the nails with hammers, no red lead to make real blood gush from his hands, feet, and side. His mouth was contorted and his lips twisted simply by hoisting him up on the crossbeam. We have so theologized the passion and death of this sacred man that we no longer see the slow unraveling of his tissue, the spread of gangrene, this raging thirst… Jurgen Moltmann writes, ‘We have made the bitterness of the cross, the revelation of God in the cross of Jesus Christ, tolerable to ourselves by learning to understand it as a necessity for the process of salvation.’ (Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel)

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