Friday, April 2, 2010

In Our Place



The cross had to be carried and endured before it could be preached. Jesus came to be the sacrifice, not clarify the concept of sacrifice. He did not come to teach about the cross, but to be nailed to it. He came that there might be a gospel to preach.

Christianity proclaims not merely that Christ died, but that his death had significance for the otherwise apparently absurd course of human history. ...

Sin dug a gulf in a relationship. The cross bridged it. Sin resulted in estrangement. The cross reconciled it. Sin made war. The cross made peace. Sin broke fellowship. The cross repaired and restored it.

To atone is to reconcile a broken relationship on behalf of another. Atonement is viewed in Christianity not as a conceptual problem for human speculation, but an actual event in the history of divine-human covenant. The Christian teaching of atonement is not just about the general idea of dying for others, but about an actual, terrible, sacrificial death. It happened to a man from Nazareth on a particular hill on a particular day.

The significance of that death is not merely an expression of human violence and hatred, or of Jesus' moral courage. It accomplished an incomparable work of divine mercy for humanity.

The word the cross speaks is not a word we say to ourselves. It is a word that God speaks to us through an inescapably concrete, irreversible, disturbing event.

The heart of its meaning is confessed in the creed: he died for us. "He died" is a fact. "For us" is the meaning of that fact.

4 comments:

Steven Carr said...

The following passage from the New Testament speaks volumes to us about what Jesus went through on Good Friday

As well as the physical pain, it must have hurt to know that very soon, Christians would write the following about how the authorities held no terror for the innocent, and that basically if you got strung up, you must have been up to no good.



Romans 13

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.



Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.



For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you.



For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

Bryan Owen said...

To argue that, from Paul's perspective, Jesus' death somehow demonstrates that Jesus got what he deserved is untenable and pushes the text beyond the bounds of exegesis into the realm of eisegesis. This particular text is not about Paul's understanding of what happened to Jesus on Good Friday, but rather is situated in the context of Paul's discussion of how Christians should live in an oftentimes hostile world. (Just imagine what it might have been like for Christians who lived under Nero or Diocletian to hear this passage from Romans, particularly when read in the larger context of what precedes and what comes after it!)

Here's a more accurate window into Paul's thinking about Jesus and what happened to him on Good Friday:

"For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21; emphasis added).

According to Paul, Jesus knew no sin. Which means that what happened to Jesus was a miscarriage of human justice such that the governing powers were (to borrow Paul's language from Romans 13) a terror, not to bad conduct, but to good.

Steven Carr said...

'This particular text is not about Paul's understanding of what happened to Jesus on Good Friday, but rather is situated in the context of Paul's discussion of how Christians should live in an oftentimes hostile world.'

Correct.

It is not in the context of somebody who believes that his Lord and Saviour was mocked, beaten, crucified , whipped, struck, and finally stabbed by people who '...hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong.'

It is more in the context of somebody who has no idea that such things happened to his Lord and Saviour.

Or perhaps all that stuff Jesus went through just slipped his mind when Paul wrote 'For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. '

We are all a bit absent-minded now and then.

Bryan Owen said...

I recommend a thorough reading of Michael J. Gorman's Apostle of the Crucified Lord.