Three Mysteries of The Cross

As in ancient Celtic Shamanism, everything important in Jewish tradition is in 3s. Eros works by ‘binary coding’, which reflects its focus on the harmonious and balanced articulation of space, but the Daemonic is Trinitarian, in its emphasis on the anguished and pressured advance into time. Space is our Mother, embracing us. Time is our Father, ejecting us to drive us Forward.

Can the Mysteries of the Cross be spoken of as three-fold?

The Cross, Descent into Hell, and the Resurrection, is three-fold in steps. This echoes ancient prophecies.

Hosea, 6, 1-2=

“Yahweh has torn us, to heal us; he has injured us but he will bind us up. He will revive us after two days. He will raise us up on the third day.”

Job, 5, 18=

“For Yahweh wounds, but he also binds up; he injures but his hands also heal.”

Psalms, 71, 20=

“Though you have made me to experience great and sore troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.”

Affliction draws humanity back to God from ‘waywardness’, yet it also does more= through the deepest of affliction will come the radical change in humanity.

Certainly there are three existential hells. [1] Sheol or Hades= the Pit of Deadening [rotten= putrid, decaying, or decomposed by the process of decay; foul smelling; corrupt; unsound or weak; unsatisfactory or worthless]. [2] Gehenna or Hell= the Furnace of Burning that is, at the same time, not only hot as hell but also cold as ice [truth betrayed, and lied about= merciless, pitiless, raging flames that destroy]. [3] the Fearful Void= the Abyss that is empty.

Do the three Mysteries of the Cross engage these three existential hells in the human heart? That would be too neat. The fallenness of humanity has three tragic dimensions, but they over-lap and inter-penetrate.

Never the less, the Cross has three mysterious Powers—Wisdoms to ‘bring to the table.’

[1] Suffering the unbearable wound and lifting the insupportable weight= the Heroism of the Cross.

[2] Accepting the humiliation of the divine at the hands of the human= the Reversal of the Cross.

[3] Paying the unrepayable debt owed to everyone by everyone= the Atoning of the Cross.

[1] The Heroism of the Cross= its Sacrifice, its radical Self-Giving. The Messiah lays down his life for his friends; he takes on the heaviness of our immoveable and inconsolable grief, our deep brokenness of heart, to make this irreversible defeat the point where the recovery of our lost heroism begins.

[2] The Reversal of the Cross= its Kenosis, its radical Self-Emptying. The Messiah is the king, yet he is disrespected and humiliated, counted among the criminals and the outcast; the Messiah is the Annointed of God to Bear the Spirit in a new and unique way, yet he is disbelieved and mistrusted, counted among the blasphemers and the non-kosher. The Messiah’s bigness is reversed, to reach us where we are, and to reverse our smallness. ‘The Dignified became lowly, so that the lowly might regain Dignity.’

[3] The Atoning of the Cross= its Forbearance, its radical Unconditional Love. The Messiah pays for the enemy the same as for the friend, thereby removing from love the cramp of moral conditionality.

Why did Yeshua baulk in the Garden of Gethsemane?

Was it because, humanly, he realised the trials he was about to undergo were beyond all human strength? Myfanwy has a different take on it= he did not want to look upon, and have to confront, the really ugly side of our tragedy, the truly small and mean side of our humanity.. It hurt him to have to face this. Such, however, is precisely the radical generosity of the new Messianic Reality he brought to the world, and lived out to the full in the Messianic Heart.

The Cross is equally for the Good Thief who repents and the crucifiers who laugh, mock, and sneer, in their vicious cruelty.

Indeed, the Cross is more loving toward the really loveless people, always the sheer majority of mankind, than to those who know they need the help in the deeps which only the Cross can instigate.

Christ goes on loving= not just the big people, like Peter who falls and falls until finally he weeps, but also the small people, the shallow living in a fool’s paradise, the nasty sadists, the silly rationalists who want the absurdity of existence reduced to formulae they can grasp and trumpet in their head, the liberals who tolerate everything only because they are indifferent to it, and on and on, a cast of thousands..

Even the hideous language used by the first followers to speak about atoning, caught in a legalistic trap, is a concession not to those stronger ones who try to love and fail, but to those weaker ones who never were able to even make a start with human love, much less welcoming the divine-human love revealed in Yeshua the Christ.

Even the petty, the mean spirited, are embraced by the sacrifice, the self-emptying, the forbearance, of the Cross. Those who think themselves far above the Cross, ‘spiritually’, are the most pathetic, the most wrecked, of all, but the humbling of the Messiah joins the humiliation they are in without knowing it.

The Cross defends nothing.. The Cross fears nothing.. It looks into every heart of every human who has ever lived, who will ever live, who now lives. It looks into depths the person has disavowed, and it speaks to them just the same, whatever the person’s mechanisms of defense. The Cross cannot be offended, shocked, insulted. It cannot be disbelieved because the disbelief the Cross accepts, and ‘suffers’, is real, and the Cross makes no attempt to pretend otherwise, but respects the truth that this is the weight hardest to lift. The stone in the heart that cannot be shifted genuinely breaks the Messiah, but in doing this, its power is broken. Its power to put a ‘stop’ on our ability to follow God is broken; the power reborn from its dying is the power not to be stopped, but to ‘go through.’ Only love is stronger than death. Love is subject to the test. Love passes the test. As ‘passion’ is enacted by Christ, it drags us along, forcibly, it drags us through, violently. A stop is put on ‘the’ stop; a motion, a dynamic, of going on through arises in its place.

This dynamic might be described, from the outside, as ‘confidence’, but that is inaccurate. It is the power that arises when, like the heart of the Messiah which holds everything, big and small, we can look at anything and everything without any fear whatever; it lacks defensiveness, and so without anything to defend, it proceeds without hesitation, or let up. It goes straight in. It moves straight on. Nothing stops it. Everything that challenges or puzzles or stretches it, it looks square in the face. It discovers as it proceeds, because unafraid to look at anything and willing to look into everything, it is never threatened.

The shrivelled heart and the large heart both come to this, through Christ’s ordeal. It is their ordeal. Even the largest have their shrivelling; even the most shrivelled retain a hint of largeness.

Not confidence, but fearlessness, nothing to defend, and everything of the utmost moment= this is the heart in the process of redemption. Its way in the world differs from any other. It is not just benign, or charitable. It is passionate, dramatic, in bigness — yet also tender, full of pathos, in smallness.

Whatever the pain involved in Christ having finally to embrace us in our very least — in our truly ugly smallness, malice, dishonesty, covered by a hollow inflation as if by assuming a cultural identity of pomp and significance we could deny our underlying nakedness — it is the over-riding and central power and wisdom of the Cross to believe in humanity.

Christ’s Cross has faith in us we have lost in ourselves– which is the real reason we mock, deride, sneer at, Christ’s Cross. Having no faith ‘deeper down’ in ourselves, we are outraged that the Cross has faith in us.

It comes down, oddly, to this= whether we keep up all the masks of culture that enable us to remain blind to our lack of faith in ourselves, our lack of faith in the human venture going anywhere or becoming anything; or alternatively, let the faith in us — in each of us personally and in all of us communally — manifested by the Cross speak to our broken place, our hurting place. Then what we see in the Cross outside us suddenly Reverses to reveal us on the same Cross inside us.

The Messiah enters into the horror of what we have to live with, and God’s absence from it.

To that in us which accuses others and ourself= Atonement.

To that in us which tries to get to the top and is terrified of being left at the bottom of the heap= Reversal.

To that in us which abandons others and ourself= Heroism.

It is clear that the Messianic Reality, and the Messianic Spirit, inaugurated by Yeshua the Christ was too dangerous to the ‘world order’ to go unopposed. If Christianity has had more distortions in its past than Hinduism or Shamanism, this is a testament not only to the failure of Christians but also to the ‘heat’ of evil opposition brought to bear upon Christianity. Christianity has undergone more devilish distortion because it is far more threatening to the Prince of This World.

Christians have to repent of their poor record, their weak witness, to Christ over the past 2000 years, and in effect, virtually begin again. But it should not be forgotten that often it was the Christians repudiated by their various versions of ‘churchianity’ that did the most to witness to Christ. For example, as the Pope sold out to Hitler in World War Two, Mother Maria Skobtsova in France, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Germany, both paid the ultimate price for remaining true= she hid Jews in her monastery in Paris so the Nazis could not take them, and Bonhoeffer spoke out for the Jews in the centre of the Nazi maelstrom, and neither could be persuaded to stop. Both were killed by Authority, whether religious or secular it hardly matters. Both these persons accepted the Cross. So too did many others down centuries. Yet the devil had his way with Christianity too often..

None the less, the issue is what we do now, where we go from here..

One thing about the Mystery of the Cross is always missed. The watershed between the old Christianity, even when beautiful and good, and the Christianity that is coming, which will step up more radically, is hidden in Hell.

The Christianity of the future has a secret wisdom and an unrevealed power hidden still in Hell. The Christianity of the future is radically Cross centred, because it starts in Hell.

From Hell, only from Hell, will the long awaited regeneration of Christianity begin. Only from Hell will the truly Second Covenant Messianic Way get going.

In Hell, only in Hell, are the secret seeds of the future. Plenty of ‘old Christians’ will not understand this, nor take hold of it in their living. But the ‘new Christians’ who are coming will discover Christ in Hell, and from that break-through, they will bring out of the deep dark, the deep suffering, of the heart lost in Hell, the new beginning, the second chance.

The defeated, the humiliated, the torn down, the burned up= these will be the seeds of the Messiah’s second chance, and Christianity’s second coming.

From Hell, where it is all over, the Messianic reality is different= it is only just beginning.

Three religions will battle down through all of time.

Shamanism to hold the Sacred Beginning; Judaism to contest the Existential Middle; Christianity to win the Eschatological End.

Therefore, do not pray to be released from Hell; pray for the divine help to remain in Hell, as long as it takes. You need time to dig up the secret buried in Hell.

It is, after all, the last place to think to look. Even the devil would not look for it there. But it is there. The final secret, the ultimate power and wisdom, is awaiting for us in Hell. That is where the real treasure is buried.

That is a Reversal only the most extreme Heyoka might appreciate..

But for those who cannot be comforted, for those for whom there is no consolation, it is the final good news.