I came across this image of a calloused hand holding a small metal cross about eight years ago on the cover of the X-Fest official programme in Kerrang! magazine. It’s from a photograph of Bill Ward — the drummer from Black Sabbath — hand holding his Black Sabbath cross.
Father and Son
But there is something about this image that speaks to me of God the Father’s relationship with Jesus, God the Son. The photograph speaks to me of God the Father holding Jesus, the crucified, resurrected Christ. And the calloused hands of God the Father demonstrating that Jesus’s experience of death and resurrection have had a profound and lasting effect on God the Father.
God the Father does not sit in heaven, stoically unaffected by the death and resurrection of Jesus. Paradoxically God the Father is right there in the middle of the experience of the death and separation of God the Father from God the Son. “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?!” The reciprocal call of Son to Father, of Father to Son. God the Father is right there in the middle of the resurrection, the restoration of life, of hope, of healing.
The Crucified God
JÃ¼rgen Moltmann in The Crucified God writes
When the crucified Jesus is called the ‘image of the invisible God’, the meaning is that this is God, and God is like this. God is not greater than he is in this humiliation. God is not more powerful than he is in this helplessness. God is not more glorious than he is in this self-surrender. God is not more powerful than he is in this humanity.
The nucleus of everything that Christian theology says about ‘God’ is to be found in this Christ event. The Christ event on the cross is a God event.” (p.205)
Today is Ascension Day, the day that the Western Church remembers Jesus returning to God the Father and taking his humanity into heaven As it says in the Scottish Episcopal Church‘s 1982 Eucharistic Prayer:
In Christ your Son our life and yours
are brought together in a wonderful exchange.
He made his home among us
that we might forever dwell in you.
A further demonstration of how much God loves us: God became human, that we might become divine.
(For more on this see my sermon on Ascension Day from a couple of years ago, parts of which I’ll be using in a sermon tonight at the Church of St Margaret of Scotland, Leven.)