The cross stands as a beacon in the New Testament as an all-encompassing event, yet it is difficult to define. One of the earliest attempts was made by Irenaeus in the second century. He describes it as a ‘recapitulation’ of all things, echoing Paul’s earlier letter to the Ephesians. Jesus had gathered up everything into himself on the cross. It is not a tight definition as it allows room for interpretation and imagination, which is, perhaps, why I have grown to appreciate it, allowing room for modern perspectives to add their colour and shape.
First, a brief digression on science: Ever since Einstein, we have come to realise that space and time are not quite as they seem. Previous generations worked from an external framework of length, breadth and height, alongside the steady beat of a clock. This view of an absolute reference operating throughout the Universe has been found to be an illusion. Space and time, it would seem, are part of the same fabric that is itself relative and curved. There is much that can be said about this, but the important point is the interconnectedness of space and time: They are one fabric. The significance of which will shortly become apparent.
When God, in the form of Jesus, entered his creation, he did so, not as its ruler, but as part of it, fully identifying with it in the form of man, not just with one man in Galilee, not even with one nation in the Middle East, but with the very fabric of his space-time creation – including the part I inhabit, over 2000 miles away and over 2000 years later, which is just a much a part of the fabric of space and time. In doing so, he summed everything up in himself, as its representative, that it might die with him on that cross. Time and space collapsing around him and brought to an end, along with all that was not right in it, like sin and death.
Does this explain things? Hardly. At best it is a feint light onto one facet. All I know is that one day all of creation looked one way and a few days later, everything was different – even if that difference is not always obvious. It is inexplicable. It is even more puzzling that so many things seem to carry on as before. Yet, I know that it is true. Not because of what has been written in books, but because of what I have experienced. I, along with countless others, live in the old order, while belonging to the new: we are it’s ambassadors.