Monday, January 25, 2010

Things You Won't Find in the Bible, Part 2

The Cross as a Peice of Art

Many churches are decorated with crosses.  There are paintings of Jesus hanging on a cross, or statues of Mary holding Jesus after Jesus was taken down from the cross, along with the familiar cross on the stage of the church.  Many people today decorate their bodies with a cross with tattoos, neckalces, t-shirts, and the like.  The cross has been morphed into some many different shapes that we have the lost the horror and the degrading humiliation that was the cross in Jesus day.

In Jesus day the cross was something that you covered your eyes from seeing.  It was outrageously bloody.  Bone and organs would be exposed after the beating most criminals took before being nailed on the beams.  Only the filthiest and worse people would hang on the cross.  It was shameful to be associated with someone on the cross. 

Mark Driscoll writes of the horror of the cross, "...victims labored to breathe, as they went into shock.  Naked and embarrassed, the victims would often use their remaing strength to seek revenge on the crowd of mockers who gathered to jeer them.  In a turn of events, the Gospels say the mockers spat on Jesus. (italics mine)  They would curse on their tormenters while urinating and spitting on them.  Some victims would be so overwhelmed with pain that they would become incontinent and a pool of sweat, blood, urine, and feces would gather at the base of the cross."

The cross was a grotesque scene.  The word excruciating finds it's roots in the pain experienced while one was nailed to a cross.  Who could turn that into a peice of art?  Something pleasent to look at? They didn't at first.

Churches using the cross as art didn't appear until 2-300 years after the cross fell out of use.  By that time, the horror, the shame, the grotesgue memories of the cross had faded. 

And then we have progrssed to the cross in our culture where Madonna has said that the cross was sexy.


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