The Beauty of the Cross
Great art reminds us that in the midst of tragedy there is always beauty. Jesus’ life was a masterpiece of light and vivid color which contrasted the harsh background of hate, betrayal and suffering of the world. Through his sacrifice he turned the cross, a barbaric instrument of death, in to a symbol of beauty and hope.
- Go around and have each person say his/her own name with an action or gesture that expresses their story or best trait and have the rest of the group repeat the name and gesture exactly.
- Provide some paper and colored pencils or markers. Have everyone draw something simple like a tree. Then have everyone draw something abstract like “happiness” or “anticipation.” Compare pictures to see how different everyone’s drawings are from each other.
The heavens frighten us; they are too calm;
In all the universe we have no place.
Our wounds are hurting us; where is the balm?
Lord Jesus, by thy scars we know thy grace.
The other gods were strong; but thou wast weak;
They rode, but thou didst stumble to a throne;
But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak,
And not a god has wounds, but thou alone. – Edward Shillito
- It is commonly said that because God is love, all he has to do is merely pronounce that we are forgiven. The reasoning goes this way: “If my child has done something wrong and says, ‘I’m sorry,’ I simply say, ‘That’s OK’ and we are reconciled. Why can’t God just do the same? Why is there a need for Jesus’ death?” Discuss.
- The problem with the illustration of the parent and the child is that the relationship depicted is too simplistic. God’s relationship with us is more complex. He is not only the Fatherly one who loves us, he is also the judge and king of the universe. Do you tend to see God as one or the other? How does that affect your life and the way you see the world?
- The beauty of the cross is that, in the very same stroke, it satisfies both the love of God and the justice of God. What does the cross say about God?
God has chosen to save the world through the cross, through the shameful and powerless death of the crucified Messiah. If that shocking event is the revelation of the deepest truth about the character of God, then our whole way of seeing the world is turned upside down… all values are transformed… God refuses to play games of power and prestige on human terms. – Richard Hays
- Read John 8:1-11—God seems to care more about eradicating the source of our shame than covering up our nakedness. Who in your life has the ability to make you feel most ashamed? How have you focused on covering shame in your life rather than allowing God to love you?
- Who do you allow to “speak into” your life? How do you determine who has that right? Are there any voices you need to change?
- Do you feel that the way you do your job, whether you’re a musician or an accountant, is an authentic expression? Do you do your work the way you do it or the way someone else would do it? What could you do to make your work more authentic?
- “To find our own voice, we must wrestle with the voices inside our brains” - Erwin McManus. What are your other voices? Take time to write down everything that goes through your head for 5 minutes. Which voices are God’s, someone else’s, or yours?
- How is Jesus’s voice different from other voices?
- What’s a lie you’ve believed about yourself in the past? What might be a lie you believe now? What does the truth and beauty of the cross reveal about the lie?
For the message of 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
When I survey the wondrous cross,
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
- When I Survey The Wondrous Cross by Isaac Watts