What Does God See When He Opens His Eyes?

by Steve Ray on March 8, 2014

CrucifixionChurch.jpgRecently we went to Mass with two Protestants.  As we walked in the door — there it was, as big as life — a CRUCIFIX with the Body of Our Lord hanging over the altar.

I knew what the Protestants were thinking — I used to think the same – ”CATHOLICS ARE WRONG, JESUS IS NO LONGER ON THE CROSS, HE HAS RISEN FROM THE DEAD AND IS IN HEAVEN.”  Of course they think Catholics are wrong to keep Jesus on the cross as though he had not risen and ascended into heaven.

Are they right?  Well, YES and NO.  Jesus DID rise and ascend into heaven and He IS glorified at the right hand of the Father and we are mystically seated there with him (1 Pet 3:22, Eph 2:6).  BUT the Catholic Church is ALSO correct to show Jesus on the Cross — not only to remind us of His suffering and death and to show what happens during the Mass — but because in a mystical way He IS STILL on the Cross.

God the Father sits on His throne in heaven.  And what does God see from his throne every time he “opens his eyes”?  He sees Jesus on the Cross!  Really?  Yeah, really!

PassoverLambBlood.jpgJesus is our Passover Lamb (1 Cor 5:7).  In the Old Testament the lambs were slain on Passover to save the Israelites from death.  The lamb was held over the altar, his neck was slashed with a knife and the blood was drained onto the altar.

This is why we have an altar in the Catholic Church! The altar represents the Cross (among other things). An Altar is where a Sacrifice takes place!  Jesus was slain as our Passover Lamb to save us from eternal death and to appease the wrath of God.  That sacrifice is re-presented at the Mass (see my talk Defending the Eucharist!).

Take a look at Revelation 5:5 and ask yourself — what John is telling us?  It reads,

Between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders, I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain . . .

Who IS the slain Lamb that is still standing?  Jesus is the Lamb!  Standing on a altar before the throne of God the Father is a Lamb still bearing the wounds of slaugher.  Jesus is that Lamb and he still bears the wounds of His sacrifice. That is what God sees when He “opens his eyes” – Jesus the sacrifice — Jesus on the altar — Jesus on the Cross.

LambInHeaven2.jpg

Rev 5:5-8 describes the Passover Lamb (Jesus Christ) ever before the Throne of God

Charles Wesley, the great Methodist minister and hymn writer agrees. In his hymn “Arise, My Soul, Arise” in which he says the very same thing in very poetic terms.

“Arise, my soul, arise; shake off thy guilty fears; The bleeding sacrifice in my behalf appears, Before the throne my surety stands, My name is written on His hands. He ever lives above, for me to intercede; His all redeeming love, His precious blood, to plead: His blood atoned for all our race, And sprinkles now the throne of grace.”

But wasn’t Jesus crucified once and for all, never to sacrificed for sins again?  Yes, of course!  In space and time Jesus was crucified once and for all in AD 30. But in God’s eyes the sacrifice is an eternal event and in the Mass that one sacrifice again is made present for us in space and time. What a gift from God!!

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Tom Nourse September 5, 2008 at 10:25 AM

Maybe they just don’t like being reminded that it was “THEIR” (protestant) sins AS WELL AS mine and yours that nailed our Lord to the Cross… I also think that most people don’t understand the “space and time” bubble as it relates to eternity. I don’t completely understand it either. When you really want to blow yourself away for a while pondering something, think about how Jesus Christ could have been crucified BEFORE the foundation of the world… don’t remember chapter and verse, but I’m sure you know what I’m talking about Steve…

Tom

Angela October 10, 2009 at 9:22 AM

amen amen amen..awesome devotional!!

As one that has come back to the Catholic Church 12 years ago, I too have heard repeatedly from others, ‘why is Jesus still on the cross’….

I share with them,,’when I look at Christ Jesus on the cross, it is a reminder to me,,this is WHAT it took!!! The Lamb Who takes away the sins of the world!!!
Blessings dear brother to you and yours.

Tommy December 21, 2009 at 5:43 PM

The crucifix serves as a reminder to all of what Jesus sacrificed for our sins: past, present, and future. It is an artist’s rendition for that event, nothing more. Catholics do not worship a statue or any graven image. They serve to focus our thoughts on prayer.

If the TRUE reason for removing the image of Christ from the cross is that He has risen, then why is it no one objects to having the image of Jesus as a baby in the manger at Christmas. He exists no more in the manger than He does on the cross. Personally, I believe many feel a strong sense of guilt (rightfully so) when they view a crucifix with the body hanging lifeless, and they cannot bear it. Suck it up! Face the fact that despite Christ’s death for our sins, we still remain sinners. Almost makes you feel as if YOU were in the crowd that day yelling “Crucify Him!” When I sin I feel the same. That sense of responsibility and guilt drives me to be a better Christian. I hope it does for you too. Continue to imagine Christ on the Cross as a constant reminder of our weak nature.

God Bless,

Tommy

Jan Lock July 20, 2010 at 2:46 AM

Of course the crucifixion is actually an eternal event, in the sense that a person who has no experience of God can have a revelation of their sin and be ‘born-again’ on any date – they can actually come to the cross of Christ and let Him take away their own sins as a real event in their life. And, as you point out, Jesus is and was the Lamb of God before the creation of the world (Revelation 13:8). Some Christians mistakenly believe the empty cross is a sign that Jesus has been resurrected. This is not the case because there were many men crucified and many empty crosses – it is the empty tomb which is the sign of the resurrection because this is unique – that He is never to die again (unlike Lazarus)

Adam April 14, 2011 at 12:43 PM

As a senior pastor of a protestant church I always asked this very question. I admittedly spent little time searching for an answer. But it was always strange to me to elevate as THE central visual reminder of our faith, the death and suffering of Messiah and not His resurrection (an issue in my opinion in the protestant church as well). But, to see Him during worship/mass and be constantly reminded that He was our Passover sacrifice, now that I get! Wonderful explanation! I hope that this kind of awareness of the meaning behind the liturgy and ritual of the Catholic faith spread far and wide. Thank you. The meaning of symbols as powerful and provocative as the Cross with Messiah still on need to constantly held before us, least we close our eyes and not see what the Father sees with eyes wide open.

Sandra March 6, 2012 at 11:45 PM

I have a little comment… “We preach Christ and Christ crucified…”
The End!

STEVE RAY HERE. Amen, preach it sister! And listen to Scripture that the sacrifice of Christ is ever present before the eyes of God and ever present in the Church in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

James March 19, 2012 at 5:09 PM

It is also noteworthy that the true cross is not intact, therefore, an empty cross is also inappropriate. Yet no one questions why an “empty tomb” is not the central reminder of our faith. But Sandra is right. Two places in scripture we are told that christ is Preached/depicted as CRUCIFIED!

Joel D'souza May 20, 2012 at 3:23 PM

@Sandra and Steve Ray …

Question: How is 2 Corinthians 5:16 to be interpreted?

De Maria June 19, 2012 at 4:58 PM

Hi Joel,

You said:
Joel D’souza May 20, 2012 at 3:23 PM
@Sandra and Steve Ray …

Question: How is 2 Corinthians 5:16 to be interpreted?

We let Scripture interepret Scripture. 2 Cor 5:16 says:
2 Corinthians 5:16
King James Version (KJV)
16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.

Who is St. Paul speaking of in the flesh? Jesus in the flesh? Or us in the flesh?

Here’s the key. St. Paul wants us to know “no man” after the flesh. Therefore, not Jesus either.

Not enough of a hint? Ok. Let’s keep reading about the flesh:
Romans 6:19
King James Version (KJV)
19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.

Romans 7:25
King James Version (KJV)
25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

Romans 8:5
King James Version (KJV)
5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 1:12
King James Version (KJV)
12 For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.

Feel free to look up “the flesh” in Scripture. You will find that THE flesh is the enemy of the Spirit. So, St. Paul is not talking about us knowing the Eucharist which is Christ’s flesh. He is talking about sinful people, who remain in THE flesh, who are therefore, unable to know Christ. Because sin prevents them from understanding the Word of God:

1 Corinthians 2:14
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Sincerely,

De Maria

Jewel June 21, 2013 at 1:53 AM

In our parish we have a crucifix on a column, and above the altar is an empty cross. I see no problem with either. Christ was crucified, and indeed, He is risen. Can’t both be acceptable? Why must it always be either/or?

STEVE RAY HERE: Because one tells the story of sacrifice and the other does not. That’s why there is supposed to be a crucifix and not just a cross. The sacrifice of Christ on the cross (an altar) is a picture and reminder of what is happening on the altar before our eyes. It is interesting that Protestants deny there’s a sacrifice and they use only a cross. Think about that! Yes, it matters.

Suzanne Beck March 9, 2014 at 2:32 PM

St. Paul said, “I preach Christ crucified…”

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