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Augustine: Ponder the Cross

Augustine (c. 354–430) calls upon Christians to stand under the cross and ponder its message and meaning. He invites his readers to join with the women who drew near as Jesus was crucified:

"As they were “looking on,” so we too gaze on his wounds as he hangs. We see his blood as he dies. We see the price offered by the Redeemer, touch the scars of his resurrection. He bows his head, as if to kiss you. His heart is made bare open, as it were, in love to you. His arms are extended that he may embrace you. His whole body is displayed for your redemption. Ponder how great these things are. Let all this be rightly weighed in your mind: as he was once fixed to the cross in every part of his body for you, so he may now be fixed in every part of your soul." [Cited in Mark, eds. Thomas C. Oden and Christopher A. Hall, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1998), 235.]

The Reformers, as we shall see, elevated this ancient witness and added to it. For Luther “the cross is our our only theology.” Calvin calls it “God’s magnificent theater of glory."

 - "Looking at the Cross," from Being Reformed: Faith Seeking Understanding, by James D. Miller and Donald K. McKim (Congregational Ministries Publishing, Presbyterian Church USA, 2012), 10.

Original of the Augustine quote is from "Of Holy Virginity, 55" a text that, from the larger context, would seem to be addressed to Christian unmarried women, perhaps nuns:

"If, therefore, you despise marriages of sons of men, from which to beget sons of men, love ye with your whole heart Him, Who is fair of form above the sons of men; you have leisure; your heart is free from marriage bonds. Gaze on the Beauty of your Lover: think of Him equal to the Father, made subject also to His Mother: ruling even in the heavens, and serving upon the earth: creating all things, created among all things. That very thing, which in Him the proud mock at, gaze on, how fair it is: with inward eyes gaze on the wounds of Him hanging, the scars of Him rising again, the blood of Him dying, the price of him that believes, the gain of Him that redeems. Consider of how great value these are, weigh them in the scales of Charity; and whatever of love ye had to expend upon your marriages, pay back to Him."