The Man on the cross was always in our living room; right in my line of vision.
Winnie: Who is that man?
Taata: Jesus Christ (Yezu Kristo)
Winnie: What is He doing on that thing?
Taata: It’s a cross; (musaalaba). He is there because of our sins
Winnie: Who put Him there?
Taata: Bad people
Winnie: He looks unhappy!
Taata: Yes, because we are sinners and he wanted to help us, He doesn’t like our sins.
Winnie: Who is a sinner?
Winnie: Am I a bad child?
Winnie: Am I like those people?
I wondered if I was a sinner. I was not a bad child. I didn’t know those bad people; I didn’t even know where they lived!
Taata: All of us are sinners. His father sent Him to die for us so that our sins would be forgiven.
Winnie: Who is his Father?
Taata: God (Katonda) is his father.
Winnie: Why is that picture in our house?
Taata: It is a reminder for us of the sacrifice He paid for us
Winnie: The sacrifice? What is a sacrifice?
I was confused. “Come and sit beside me. I will explain it to you,” Taata said.
My Taata always had answers to my questions, so I eagerly sat down to learn more about the man hanging from our living room wall. As a child, I was just beginning to understand right and wrong, punishment and reward; and as Taata spoke to me, my heart filled with a deep conviction of the times I had done wrong. I knew that Taata loved me because he constantly rewarded me with compliments, gifts, affirmation and open appreciation for anything I did right. However, he never withheld correction in form of gentle reprimand or a quick slap followed by an explanation. He always gave me the chance to explain myself but meted out justice as required. I knew that he was fair and that’s why I didn’t fear him; I always wanted to be in his presence.
Tata went on to explain, “Jesus is the Son of God Who came to earth to save people from their sins. When he told them that they are sinners, they got annoyed with him, arrested him, took him to a bad judge and then crucified him. Crucifixion is when someone is hang on a cross until they die.”
“So can He forgive me too?”
“Just say you are sorry for your sins and ask Him to forgive you.”
I said so, looking at the picture with Jesus’s face filled with sorrow and pain and asked Him to forgive me. After my earnest prayer I thought the forlorn look on the face of Jesus would change, just the way Tata’s would when I asked him to forgive me. But Jesus still had the same sad look. I still felt confused. Taata, after I apologised, would always say, “I know you didn’t mean to do that but next time you shouldn’t fight your brother instead you should come to me or tell Maama if someone bothers you. You shouldn’t fight.” I used to fight with my brother, Alex, all the time.
Our home was at the bottom of a gentle slope with a short drive way. As soon as one stood in the doorway, they could see the picture of Jesus on the cross. That picture is still in my living room today and He still looks sad! It is difficult to avoid him and I have decided to always come in with my head bowed down. Many times I feel like the Psalmist who was unable to escape the presence of God!
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you. Psalm 139:7-12 (NIV)
I now celebrate the cross; I no longer ask why I should celebrate the death of Jesus because he rose again, his death brought me life, his death bought my salvation and granted me eternal life. I now know that my Jesus is no longer on the cross. I didn’t send Him to the cross instead He chose to go to the cross because He loved me and didn’t want me to perish. His Father, now my Father too, let Him go to the cross so that I would go free. The cross is no longer a sign of shame and guilt; it is a sign of victory for evermore and I nolonger hide from Jesus but I embrace Him as the lover of my soul.
“I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.” Psalms 37:25