Chapter 8. The Saving Death and Resurrection of Christ • 91
LIFT HIGH THE CROSS
In suffering and death his humanity became the free and
perfect instrument of his divine love which desires the
salvation of men.
—CCC, no. 609
In a number of ways, Jesus warned his followers that pain and death
would be an essential part of his mission. Right after he made Peter
the rock on which the Church would be built, he predicted his Passion.
“Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suf-
fer greatly from the elders, the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed,
and on the third day be raised” (Mt 16:21). When Peter protested this
possibility, Jesus rebuked him, “You are thinking, not as God does, but
as human beings do” (Mt 16:23). Jesus predicted his Passion again after
the Transfiguration (cf. Mt 17:22-23).
Not only would Jesus accept the Cross, he expected the same
willingness from his disciples. “If anyone wishes to come after me, he
must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me” (Lk 9:23).
Jesus explained this truth further by means of an agricultural image.
“Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a
grain of wheat, but if it dies it produces much fruit” (Jn 12:24). Jesus
noted that the greatest expression of love is to die for the beloved. “No
one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”
Because Christ’s suffering and death was the instrument of salva-
tion, from what did he save us? We needed to be saved from sin and its
damaging effects. God’s plan to save us involved having the Son of God
enter into this world to be like us in all things except sin. Divine love
made this possible.
Jesus, Son of God, was sent by the Father to restore the harmony
between himself and humanity that had been disrupted by sin. He came
to teach and show us love. Jesus was without sin, but in his human
nature, he was subject to all that human beings suffer, including hatred
from others, torture, and death itself. He proclaimed the coming of God’s