A logical mind says that some things happen in time. It is a little bit more abstract to suggest that there are things that are timeless, things that exist out of time.
It does not make sense to say that a thing happened in time and outside of time. It seems like it needs to be one or the other. But for the cross, it must be both.
If Jesus did not enter into time, if the cross is not a fact of history, then it means nothing.
But it had to be outside of time to. I had not been born yet, of course, 2010 years ago. But somehow Jesus’ sacrifice atoned for the sins I have committed in the past. And for the sins I will commit in the future.
Like so many other myseries, we can use pretty language to obscure this issue, to make it appear less mysterious. But we can’t avoid it’s fundamental strangeness. Jesus was crucified in time and outside of time.
The importance of that act traveled backward in time, all the way back to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. And it traveled foreward in time. Until Jesus comes back.
In a way it is like an endless instant. Jesus is still crucified. (Equally important, the fact of the empty tomb is also an endless instant. The tomb is still empty.)
This is why Jesus suffers with us. And we suffer with Jesus. And perhaps it is why, when we care for the suffering, we are caring for Jesus himself.
This is a reason to serve others: because in doing this, we are serving God himself. It is often said that service is a form of worship. I suspect that this is why: Because when we serve others, we are serving God, in the way that impacts him the most.
When I have been the poorest, this is when a gift of a few dollars has impacted me the most. When I have been at my most lonely, this is when just half a smile from someone really touched me. When I have been at my most afraid, this is when the smallest assurances have seemed the biggest.
It can’t be any different for God.
If God’s suffering was not real then none of it is. Things more easily identified as worship might be enjoyed by him. But there has never been a time that God was more vulnerable than when he was on the cross, a time when our actions impacted him the most deeply.
There are so many ways to serve others. You don’t need me to list them. When ever some one is suffering and you do something to ease their suffering, you are caring for Jesus himself, as he stands, nailed to the cross, beaten and bleeding.