Wednesday, 12 February 2014

The Public Execution of Christ

Speaking Christian- The Death of Jesus

I Corinthians 1:23  Christ Crucified

            The death of Jesus is foundational to Christianity and it has been
crucial to what it means to be Christian from its beginning. All of the four gospels include several chapters describing Jesus’ last week, death and resurrection. Jesus’ death continues to be of major importance for Christians today. But why is it so significant to Christians? We all die, but what makes Jesus’ death so significant?
            There are several reasons but the most widespread Christians understanding today is that Jesus paid the price for our sins by dying in our place. That is, Jesus is the substitute for us in order that we might be reconciled with God. There are several problems with this idea because he did not merely die, but was crucified at the hands of Roman rulers with those in authority not liking what they had heard about Jesus. They saw him as challenging the establishment as he drew a crowd who wanted to hear him wherever he spoke. Jesus’ death was also a part of God’s plan as Jesus knew that he would die. And also in Jesus’ death, there is a question of where sin and forgiveness fits in with this.
            Jesus was crucified—on a cross by the authorities of his day. Death and resurrection are dying and rising with Christ.  Jesus’ death and resurrection become a metaphor for the personal and ultimately communal transformation at the centre of the Christian life. Like Paul who says ,”I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” This means that when we believe we are transformed by Christ. Jesus’ death is the revelation of the love of God Through Jesus we see God. In Jesus’ passion for the kingdom of God and his challenge to powers we see the depth of God’s love.
            Jesus was willing to die because of his love for others. This does not imply that God required his death so that we could be forgiven. Jesus offered up his life as a gift to God because he was filled with God’s passion for the kingdom of God a different kind of world.
            Why do you think Jesus died? Did he die to pay the price for our sins? Was he crucified for your sake? Is this part of your faith and understanding of who Jesus is?
            Sometimes what we think of as certain may no longer be truthful. By reflecting on Jesus’ death as  a means to reveal God’s love we also note that God shows his passion as the world transforms and changes. Why did Jesus die? And did he really have to die?

God as we consider Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection we pray that you would open our minds to be transformed. To think that Jesus  loved us so much that he died a cruel death for our sake is indescribable, unattainable and overwhelming. Yet Jesus did this as a means of showing love and that he is God’s Son. Enable us O God to understand this as we are transformed in faith. Amen.

Jesus died by crucifixion under the authority of Roman rule. He was killed publicly and according to the rule books of the time. What did this public death prove if anything? What if Jesus had said no to God? What do you think might have happened  to Christianity?

For further reading, Marcus J. Borg, Speaking Christian.(Detroit: Gale Cengage Learning, 2011), p. 143-154

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