The Problem With the Cross: A Communion Meditation

A couple of years ago, mega-Church pastor T. D. Jakes decided to go from the little screen (that is, television) to the big screen. He helped produce and even starred in a drama titled “Woman Thou Art Loosed.” The film takes the viewer through the tough journey of a beat-down, walked-on, abused and imprisoned woman named Michelle. It begins with her childhood years and shows how, from that time on, her life went into a downward spiral.

While still a young girl, Michelle’s mother began to date a man named Reggie. Reggie is the type of person that makes anyone with a sense of decency cringe. He is a manipulative liar; he uses people to get out of trouble and to get what he wants. He was also the type of guy who could make Michelle’s mother believe anything he said, even that he didn’t rape and molest Michelle when, in fact, he did.

It was this demoralizing and dehumanizing act that turned Michelle bitter. And as much as she despised Reggie, this was the only type of male figure she had in her life while growing up so, as soon as she was old enough, this was the same type of men she hooked up with—users and abusers. Well, as the movie chronicles her life, it shows her eventually killing Reggie. Yet, she guns him down at the most unexpected time and in the most unexpected place: during a revival, while kneeling at the altar.

Michelle had just completed a small sentence in jail and when she was released, she was determined to do better by herself. So, she started going to Church. After a few days of going to the revival, she heard the preacher (T. D. Jakes) say something akin to, “If you ever want to move on, you have to leave what’s holding you back at the foot of the cross.” On the last evening of revival, Michelle brought the bloodstained dress that she had been wearing the night that Reggie first violated her. She had kept it all of those years and was now bringing it to the altar so she could move on.

Yet, as she approached the altar, with tears streaming down her face, she looked over and who else was there giving his life to the Lord but Reggie? These two people, one who abused the other and one who hated the other, stood at the foot of the cross at that same moment. Both had come because they wanted to move on, they wanted to experience God’s grace. Yet, Michelle couldn’t fathom sharing this experience with Reggie and so in a moment of violent rage, she pulled out a small handgun and shot him three times, killing him.

You know, as we take communion today, along with you, I remember the sacrifice that Christ made. But that movie also reminds me of something else, it makes me remember the fact that the cross can be a problem. It can be a problem when those who have caused us hurt and injustice, meet us there. It can be a problem when we go before it and don’t release our grudges. It can be a problem when we stand before it and do not allow it to change us.

But it can also be an answer.

It can be an answer of forgiveness, an answer of hope, an answer of healing, an answer of assurance, an answer of meaning, an answer of purpose and an answer of freedom. It can be an answer to broken relationships, an answer to a hurting heart, an answer to a hateful world, an answer to deep philosophical questions, an answer to what true love is and an answer to how God will set right all injustice.

Life’s answers are found in the cross. When we take communion, we are affirming this truth. It is true that the cross towers over the ages of history, over every human life and over this juice and this bread. And it is true that when we meet the Triune God in communion, that He reminds us, “In Me, thou art loosed.” This morning as you partake of the emblems, may you find yourself at the altar letting God’s blood cover you on the outside and letting His reconciling grace work throughout you on the inside. And as we reflect on the cross event of the past, may it dispel those things in our pasts that may be holding us back. Let's leave behind what haunts us so that we can press on and so that God may do new works in us here and now as well as in the future. Amen.

(Please let me know if you use this material in any form. You can e-mail me at halc dot fortydp at mailcity dot com)


  1. "Reggie is the type of person that makes anyone with a sense of decency cringe. He is a manipulative liar; he uses people to get out of trouble and to get what he wants."

    Hmmmm... sounds like Dick Cheney.

  2. Nice thoughts, Michael.
    The cross was scandalous--a crucified Messiah? How can Almighty God be shamefully executed as a death row reject?

    And yet, in dying with Him, we too are drawn into the scandal. We lay down our right to revenge.

    I like the song that says:
    I know a place,
    a wonderful place,
    where accused and condemned
    find mercy and grace,
    where the wrongs we have done
    and the wrongs done to us
    are nailed there with Him
    there on the cross...

    We focus almost exclusively on our sins being nailed to the cross. But the freedom the cross brings is not just the freedom of received forgiveness. It is the freedom of granted forgiveness as well. We are no longer slaves to the wrongs we have suffered. We give them to Christ and allow the Wounded Healer to heal all of our sorrows.

    Freely forgiving those who wronged us? Scandalous!

    Yet oh so liberating...