You don’t know how dirty your windows are until you clean them.
Or at least that’s how it always has been with me. Dirt and grime will pile up on the car windshield or the front door or even my sunglasses, but it happens little by little, slowly over time. Because it happens slowly, and not all at once, it’s almost imperceptible. But then you clean the window and look through. You can see with clarity, and you don’t realize just how much your vision had been obscured until you get a glimpse without the obstructions.
In a similar way, the cross of Jesus cleans the windows of our vision. In the competing messages of the world around us, that vision can easily be obscured, and we might not even realize how much so until we see through the lens of the cross. Jesus is the center of all creation, and it’s really only through the cross that we get a truly accurate presentation of reality. So what specifically does the cross make clear? At least three things:
1. The cross brings clarity to the true problem.
We find ourselves living in an ironic time. Never before has the world seemed so convinced that people are basically good if we give them a chance, and yet never before have so many of been wondering what’s wrong with the world. The cross brings clarity to the true problem.
While the question of “what’s wrong with the world?” might have many potential answers, they are all really offshoots of the true answer. So what’s wrong with the world? Poverty? Homelessness? Violence? Dishonesty and lack of integrity? Yes, and yet the true problem is sin. Not just the acts of sin, but the state of sin in which we all live. We, and the rest of the world, are broken. And we see how severely at the cross. The cross shows us with stark clarity just how desperate the situation is – so desperate, so evil, so wrong that the perfect Son of God had to suffer and die.
2. The cross brings clarity to the character of God.
The cross also shows us clearly the character of God. We might look around the world, and even to the circumstances of our own personal lives, and have all sorts of questions about God. Where is He? What is He doing? What is He like? We ask these questions not in a vacuum, but against the backdrop of school shootings, cancer, and global threats. But the cross brings clarity to who God is.
At the cross, we see that God is committed to justice, for He is unwilling to compromise on the just punishment for sin. At the cross, we see that God is committed at the same time to love, for He is unwilling to allow sinful humanity to bear the price for that sin. The cross is the window through which we see the demonstrated character of God; it is a stake in the ground by which we can say, “This is who God is,” regardless of what other circumstances befall us.
3. The cross brings clarity to the future.
Finally, the cross brings clarity to the future. And that’s because the cross was not the end. Jesus died, and Jesus rose, and is gloriously alive today. In His life, we have life. It’s the cross and the resurrection that shows us exactly where we are headed.
Either we are headed to resurrection with Jesus, to reign with Him as forgiven, blood bought co-heirs, or we are headed to the ultimate and consequence of our cosmic rebellion.
Further, the cross and resurrection shows us that creation is bending toward the recognized rule and reign of Jesus. That there will come a day when every knee will indeed bow and every tongue will confess what the Christian already knows – that Jesus Christ is the resurrected Lord of all. This is the future.
This Easter season, God once again reminds us that He has given us the gift of clarity, not confusion. Though we might still have questions about the days in which we live, of these things there is no doubt.