The law of the cross is written into the fabric of the world just as surely as is the law of gravity.
The law of the cross is the intimate connection between dying and rising that’s central to the mission of Jesus. But it shows up more than just in Jesus’ life. All of creation and all of history are stamped by the pattern of dying and rising.
A seed is planted in the ground and it dies as a seed. But it doesn’t just die. In its dying it becomes something new and more, and bears much fruit. It becomes what it was meant to be all along.
Similarly, Israel dies and rises in many ways in the Old Testament — most dramatically in the Exile and return. But in its dying and rising Israel is always becoming more deeply itself, what it was meant to be as the people of God.
Every political regime that’s tempted to kill a rival leader knows the “martyr principle”: that some people are even more powerful in death than they were in life. If you kill them they come to life in ways that are even harder to control.
Physically, in a seed; historically, in Israel; spiritually, in a martyr. The law of the cross was revealed in Jesus. But it’s written into the fabric of the world, and shows itself in many ways.
The question is whether we’ll put that law to work in our lives. We were made to rise in Christ. It’s our hope for ourselves and God’s plan for us. But there’s no rising without dying.
So we have to die in Christ spiritually and psychologically. That means that — like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane — we have to place our hopes and dreams into the hands of God the Father. It also means that — like Jesus at the Last Supper — we have to put giving over acquiring, and serving over being served. But when we die in these ways we also experience a kind of rising: We live with a deeper peace, and our lives are more fulfilling. That’s the law of the cross.
And, ultimately, we’re even called to die in Christ physically. It can be the capstone act of our lives. Having given ourselves to God spiritually and psychologically, in the end we do so physically as well. Just as a seed dies and rises, just as Israel died and rose, just as a martyr dies and rises, and just as we die and rise in Christ spiritually and psychologically, so we believe that if we physically die in Christ we will also physically rise in him. It’s the law of the cross.
Our physical lives are governed by the law of gravity. Our lives as disciples are meant to be governed by the law of the Cross. That isn't a sentence of doom. It’s an invitation to surrender every part of our lives — willingly and ever more deeply — to Christ. To the extent that we do so, we will become what we were always meant to be, both in this life and in the next.