“The Cross of Jesus Christ is the Epicentre of Reality” – Bradley Jersak

“The Cross of Jesus Christ is the Epicentre of Reality” – Bradley Jersak

I occasionally make the assertion that the Cross of Jesus Christ is the epicenter of reality—attempting to recall the precision and poetry of early Christian theologians who used the Latin phrase axis mundi (axis of the universe). Lately, I’ve become aware of some productive pushback and probable misapprehensions that invite further comment.

The best of these came via social media from a friendly interlocutor who responded,

The Cross is the ultimately important event for us humans, yes, but the epicenter of all REALITY? A task performed for a part of God’s creation, humanity, is the epicenter of all REALITY? I’m sure that before the human race fell, way before the Cross, there was an epicenter of all reality already well established in eternity. I’m also equally sure it hasn’t changed.

The epicenter of all reality is the nature, personality, and being of God the Father himself.
God isn’t a product of the Cross. The Cross is an expression of God’s person. The Cross can’t be an epicenter!

The Cross is a revealing, a revelation, of God. Not the revelation though. Just a revelation. The revelation of God’s love for mankind – but there is so much more to be revealed about God’s purposes in the universe and eternity: the knowledge in God’s mind in all the realms we call science, God’s full understanding of the potentials built into human beings, and how they will be fulfilled in the eternal future.

These things and many others we will keep discovering forever. As amazing as the Cross is for us, in eternity will be looked back on as the bridge that redeemed humans to God’s original path for them. The path that leads us deeper and finally ‘into full absorption’ in the epicenter of all reality—God Himself.

There is so much here to which I can say AMEN. Indeed, some aspects of my friend’s response are exactly what I mean. But in his counterstatement, I also see some real differences that require clarification, response, and even rebuttal.

“The Cross”

I’ll begin with a few clarifications. When I use the word “CROSS,” I consciously follow St. Paul’s language in Galatians 6:14, when he says, “I glory in nothing but the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Wait? What about the resurrection? Why prioritize the crucifixion over and to the exclusion of the resurrection when we know the risen Christ was so pivotal to Paul’s teaching (especially in 1 Corinthians 15)?

And there is where many believers make their first misstep. For Paul, the Cross of Jesus Christ is not simply the Good Friday crucifixion. The Cross is the New Testament symbol of what God-in-Christ (2 Corinthians 5:19) accomplished for the world through his death and his resurrection (the whole Paschal Mystery), including (1) his definitive revelation of God’s love and grace and (2) his decisive act of victory over Satan, sin, and death. The Cross then stands as an icon of Jesus Christ himself. HE is the epicenter of Reality, the Incarnate image of the invisible God, the radiance of God’s glory, the exact representation of God’s likeness, and all the fullness of the Godhead in bodily form. To see Jesus is to see the Father. And to see who Jesus is and what he does in his death and resurrection is to see the heart of the Father in clearest focus and as the apex of divine self-revelation.


Next, when I say epicenter, I do mean “ultimately important,” absolutely central, the zenith, and again, the axis mundi. “Only the Cross stands as the world turns” (the Carthusian martyrs), “the still point in our turning world” (T.S. Eliot).

My friend does concede that the Cross is ultimately important for us humans, for our redemption, etc. But for all reality? What about before the fall? he wonders. What about before the Cross? What about eternity past? for as he says, “The Cross is an expression of God’s person. God is not a product of the Cross.”

That sounds right—even beautiful. But here’s where we may still differ (and we’re both comfortable with difference because this topic leads us both to worship rather than rancor):


I used the word reality with great care. What does reality include? When I use the term, I am including ALL reality—both Creator and creation, visible and invisible, eternity and time. In the Father-heart of God, how are these united? Only in Jesus Christ. God the Father, by the Spirit, established Christ alone as the union of Creator and created, s/Spirit and matter, eternal and temporal—and this union in Christ both (1) transfigures the created cosmos and (2) gives shape to the eternal and invisible God in visible and temporal form. ALL of this together constitutes reality, and the Father has, in love, chosen and sent his only begotten Son by the Spirit to be the epicenter… not merely straddling each realm with one leg but uniting them in himself.

This is (is = present tense, eternal). That is, this is always true. And that truth—that reality has an epicenter where eternity and time intersect—is where the Lamb slain from eternity (“the foundations of the cosmos” – Revelation 13:8) and the Lamb slain in space-time history on Golgotha are indivisibly one. John the Revelator sees this Lamb slain standing “at the centre of the throne” (Revelation 5:6).

The Now of Eternity and Sacred Time

In Christ, the Cross of Christ is both God’s eternal throne and the Roman crucifix at once, because for God, it is all NOW. This is why in the “sacred time” of ancient hymnology, we never say “Christ was born,” “Christ died” or “Christ rose.” It is always Christ is born, Christ is crucified, Christ is risen—because it is always a present-tense reality.

This is where the temporal aspect of my friend’s critique is problematic. Before the fall? Before the Cross? Looking back? The past-tense grammar describes a solely human perspective and its time-bound limitations. But there is no ‘before’ to the ‘everywhen, all-present’ Father, or his Son, Jesus Christ, described in Isaiah 9:6 as the “father of eternity” (Isaiah 9:6) and through whom God “created the ages” (Hebrews 1:2). We know this because Jesus Christ, Pantocrator of Reality (Revelation 1:8), eternity and time, can say in John 5:58, “Before Abraham was [our earthly perspective], I AM” [God’s eternal perspective].

Let’s bundle this up now. The Cross (death and resurrection, eternal and temporal) is the definitive revelation and decisive act of the Father’s heart as self-giving love. We don’t have an abstract love ‘before’ Creation or ‘before’ the Cross. Rather, the Father’s heart IS always (not from before but from above, eternally so) revealed, expressed, and enacted in the cosmos where the portal between the two registers of reality is Christ himself (and specifically, God-in-Christ). The axis or epicenter looks like a Cross because the Cross is the revelation (not the cause) of God’s love. And on that note, I think we may agree, and I appreciate the call for clarity.


Now it’s not quite fair for me to spend hours researching, pondering, and crafting a thorough response to a comment written, likely in some haste, in response to my unexplained one-liner. But what I can and did do is subject my response to the winter module cohort at SSU.ca for prayerful and rigorous critique. Renate, Luke, Jeff, Susan, Scott, and Carrie functioned as a collaborative think-tank throughout our recent two-week intensive. Here were some of their responses:

  • They noted that epicenter is a special word, well-suited for Paul’s prayer Ephesians 3:14-17. He prays to the Father that by the Spirit, the supernatural love of Jesus Christ would be revealed to our hearts. They gave examples of how Christian preachers who exegeted this verse repeatedly saw the form of the Cross in Paul’s description of triune love as “wide, long, high, and deep, surpassing knowledge.”
  • Thus, they identified the Cross as the culmination of God’s love (Father, Son, and Spirit), self-revealing and self-fulfilling the fullness of the divine nature (i.e., the Father’s love).
  • They noted that the Cross is where Christ himself proclaims the telos (“tetelestai!”—“it is accomplished”) of God’s ultimate (teleological) purposes, and not only for the human part of creation but for the whole universe (all of creation, visible and invisible).
  • They cautioned against the debate itself devolving into tritheism, as if there were a competition between the Father’s heart of love and the Son’s act of love. In truth, Father, Son, and Spirit are one subject, sharing one divine nature (love), and the redemptive acts of God’s love revealed and accomplished through the Cross are indivisibly Trinitarian. he asserted the unity of the three Persons in the one Godhead. [Gregory of Nyssa, for example, insisted that the three Persons of the Trinity are involved in all the operations of the Godhead, without division, and never act independently – the doctrine of coinherence or perichoresis].
  • How, I asked, might my friend and I avoid becoming functional ‘binatarians’ (Father and Son without Spirit)? The cohort suggested that the Spirit is the invisible that makes visible. That is, just as at Creation and at the Virgin birth, it is by the Spirit that the Father’s love is made visibly manifest in the Son.
  • They also reflected on how the great saints and mystics interpreted Song of Solomon 1:2, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth” as typological of the Holy Spirit. The kiss IS the Spirit, and the kiss of the Spirit is the kiss that gives life (Genesis 2:7). Remember that as God the Father was (oops, is) in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, so too, the Holy Spirit is upon and within Jesus, without measure (John 3:34), ever-present even in that tormented body on the Cross, mediating the Father’s love to us. Further, they reminded me that our living experience of the Father’s love is in and by the Holy Spirit of God. [I added, the grace of God IS the transforming presence of the Holy Spirit].
  • They posited that the triune God is the foundation and fabric of reality, at the center of which the Lamb of God stands as mediator, holding the edges of the fabric together and folding them into himself so that it is “all in him” in order that God the Father will be “all in all.”
  • Finally, with their minds freshly baked in Martin Buber’s “I-thou” personhood, the cohort expressed some nervousness about the language of “full absorption”—typically, this is a Hindu or Buddhist notion [certain streams at least] that Christian theologians avoid. We use the language of union or perichoresis to affirm our immersion into the love of God, but without any loss of our personhood or erasure of our unique and particular true selves. I assured them that my friend would certainly agree, but indeed, as Wm. Paul Young often reminds me, absorption is inadequate language for an I-thou relationship.

I don’t know that my perspective is persuasive, but that isn’t my goal. I hope, rather, that these reflections will clarify my original statement and that our conversation would be cause of a pause to worship.

Picture of Brad Jersak

Brad Jersak

Bradley Jersak is an author and teacher based in Abbotsford, BC. He serves as a reader and monastery preacher at All Saints of North America Orthodox Monastery. Read More