The cross was a choice. Did you realise that? Jesus had a choice.
He was no puppet in the thrall of the master string puller. He was no stooge for the great puppet master in the sky. He was no victim of some divine drama playing out in his life. He had a choice. And it was a choice that he freely made.
There has been criticism levelled at the Christian faith for having as its foundation stone an event in history that smacks of cosmic cruelty, some game that the Divine played with the life of his own son. The cross has been described as divine child abuse to the ultimate degree.
But Jesus had a choice.
No, he may not have been completely aware of the ramifications of his actions. He may not have been able to see past the humiliation and pain of the ignominious death that awaited him.
A death that sprang directly from the life he led.
The Jewish authorities of the day were aghast at this man who claimed equality with God. ‘Blasphemy!” they cried. “Such blasphemy deserves death.”
To the Roman authorities he was a man potentially stirring trouble. Just look how he entered Jerusalem –like some king being lauded and enthroned! This sort of behaviour could not be allowed to continue. A dangerous man this rabbi from Nazareth.
So, Jesus was on the path to death.
In the end it was a path he chose. He could have faded quietly into the background, reneged on his claims to divinity, stopped troubling the Jewish authorities by his outrageous claims and confronting talk. He could have faded from sight as far as the Romans were concerned. He could have quietly disappeared with his band of fisherman and ragtag followers. He could even have said to God in the Garden of Gethsemane, “My will, not yours. I’m not going that road.”
But he chose to stay the distance. He chose to accept the consequences of his life and teachings. He chose to trust his Father when his Father said, “This is the way, walk in it’”
And so Jesus chose the cross.
He chose to trust his Father that there was something to gain from this terrible pain, something that would be achieved by his dying.
And he went to his death not ever completely sure; he was after all, restricted by his humanity.
He went to his death because he trusted his Father, a trust based on an eternity of knowing, an eternity of relationship.
A trust based on knowing not the outcome, but the one who said, “Go.”