Reflection on the death of Christ and its achievement, so far from being a sombre experience, actually leads to a type and degree of celebration that can be found nowhere else.
For the cross brings us into a new relationship with God. This relationship is marked by boldness, love and joy. And these do not belong merely in the interior experience of the individual believers, but are to distinguish our public worship.
As W.M. Clow points out:-
‘There is no forgiveness in this world, or in that which is to come, except through the cross of Christ. “Through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins.” The religions of paganism scarcely know the word…The great faiths of the Buddhist and the Mohammedan give no place either to the need or the grace of reconciliation. The clearest proof of this is the simplest. It lies in the hymns of Christian worship. A Buddhist temple never resounds with a cry of praise. Mohammedan worshippers never sing. Their prayers are, at the highest, prayers of submission and of request. They seldom reach the gladder note of thanksgiving. They are never jubilant with the songs of the forgiven.’
John Stott, who quotes the above in The Cross of Christ, p257f, explains that although in the Koran Allah is frequently referred to as ‘the Compassionate, the Merciful’ and sometimes ‘the Forgiving One’, it is clear that Allah’s forgiveness ‘has to be earned and is never bestowed as a free gift on the undeserving.’