The season of Lent reminds us that Jesus inevitably moves toward the cross, the ultimate picture of failure and disgrace. Jesus was willing to risk the embarrassment of being stripped, beaten and hanged naked to die and to be held up as a failure for the whole world to see on that Friday. It is through failure that God chooses to save the world. As Saint Paul would later put it, the cross was and is "a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength."
In his book Six Hours One Friday, Max Lucado wonders if Jesus used his hands while telling the parable of the loving father and his two sons. When he got to the point in the story where the overjoyed father runs out to meet his broken-down son, did he open his arms wide to illustrate the point? "Whether he did that day or not, I don’t know,” says Lucado. “But I know that he did later. He later stretched his hands as open as he could. He forced his arms so wide apart that it hurt. And to prove that those arms would never fold and those hands would never close, he had them nailed open. They still are."