In Taunton, Mass, an 8-year-old boy was sent home from school and ordered to take a psychological exam for drawing a stick figure of what seemed to represent Jesus on a cross. Apparently, the boy was asked by his teacher to draw something that reminded him of Christmas. His dad reports that the family had just taken a trip to the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette to see the Christmas lights display and that “when he seen the crucifixion of Jesus on the cross, that’s what he drew…”
When I first read this, I was aghast. A school sent a boy home for drawing the likeness of Jesus on a cross?! This is an outrageous affront to religious liberty! Then it set in. The cross has been domesticated in our culture. We wear crosses as jewlery around our necks. But take the contempory equivelent of the cross–say an electric chair–and try using that as a symbol of hope and peace. The cross is a scandal. As Paul said:
“Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.”
I’m sure that little boy’s teacher was expecting him to draw a snowman or a Christmas tree. And while I have no idea if that boy understands the significance of the cross, I’m reminded of the glorious good news and glad that that baby didn’t just settle for simply bringing tidings of great joy so we could feel warm and fuzzy once a year. Instead, that helpless baby actually grew up, preached the gospel, fed the poor, healed the sick, raised the dead, befriended sinners, and eventually died on a cross in the most brutal way imaginable to save sinners like you and me.
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
And his favor rests on us because of the cross. Amen.