I wish I could remember where I found this quote from John Howard Yoder: “Here at the cross is the man who loves his enemies, the man whose righteousness is greater than that of the Pharisees, who being rich became poor, who gives his robe to those who took his cloak, who prays for those who despitefully use him. The cross is not a detour or a hurdle on the way to the kingdom, nor is it even the way to the kingdom; it is the kingdom come.”
I find myself like those early disciples after the resurrection, thinking, "OK, now we get it, the Messiah suffers and dies. But now you're risen, so now are you taking over? Now we've gotten Good Friday out of the way, we can get on to the good stuff." (Acts 1, loosely paraphrased.)
But this is the "good stuff," Yoder reminds us. This cross, this gallows, this is where God really is. Everything Jesus did was leading to this, where God's love is shown most fully for us. The Church has spent 2,000 years trying to explain the cross, understand it. But tonight we stand in awe of a God who is truly with us, whose love for us is not shown in power or domination but in self-giving love, a love which when lived by God's children will change the world.
This isn't a detour, a hurdle. It is the kingdom come.