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John 19:30, NIV
30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
April 15, 2012 This is what Jesus had been preparing for, at least for the last 3 years of his life. The Gospel writer frequently indicated that Jesus knew he was going to die for the sins of mankind. Previously it was "not my time." Now it is his time.
How did he prepare for this his main event? How can anyone prepare for a Roman style crucifixion? It must have been agony for him to know all along this was going to happen, and still be obedient to his purpose for living. There was nothing anyone could do to stop it. Death was the only thing that would end his suffering.
John associated glory with the death of Jesus. Sacrificial death is glorious. Heroes die so other people can live. Heroes maintain their faith and, in the end, die in obedience to their God. What a spin that was! Death on a cross was anything but glorious.
April 26, 2012I have left Jesus on the cross for a long time. One day follows another and I have been busy with many things. Writing about the death of Jesus is difficult for me. Maybe because my thinking about the cross is not clear and well-defined. I know better what I don't believe than what I do believe.
I think the cross expresses the magnitude of God's great love for his creation, not God's anger. God's mercy, not retribution. I have described in previous passages how the death of Jesus fulfills the symbolism of the Old Testament Passover lamb. That would have been very important to the people for whom the Gospels were originally written.
That was 2000 years ago. In a different culture and part of the world. Must I believe the story in the same way? Or can the life and death of Jesus come alive within people in unique ways?
Jesus taught us to be childlike and simple in our approach to our heavenly Father. To love and trust and hang out with our God. When we err, to correct what we can and move forward in faith and hand in hand with the One who loves us dearly. Jesus never said anything about needing blood to cover over our sins.
When I look to the cross, I have a mental problem. Why did it have to be this way? I also have a gut problem. I just don't understand why it had to be like this?
April 27, 2012So, Jesus finished the work he was sent to do and then he died. What was the work he was sent to do? John has told us Jesus was the Word, fresh out of God's mouth. Jesus revealed/unveiled the truth about God. We the listeners and the readers will interpret what we have heard and seen in this Gospel differently. It's human nature to hear, see and believe that which confirms what we already think we know. Which creates a problem for the Word. Who will really hear and believe? Jesus had that problem throughout his 3-year ministry. Today we are no different.
John the Baptist and John the Gospel writer claimed Jesus to be the Lamb of God. I don't remember Jesus ever saying that about himself. He did say if he is lifted up he will draw all people to himself. He did say God loved the world so much that he sent his beloved son and that all who believe in him will not perish but have eternal life.
Jesus also spoke of himself as Living Water, the Bread of Life and Light of the World. All of these things bring to our minds the essentials of our physical, daily experience. Then Jesus added, I am the Good Shepherd, which connotes a kind, protective and guiding Presence. Lastly Jesus claimed to be the Resurrection and the Life, which implies there is always more--something new, fresh, better--just ahead. Jesus, the Word and Revealer of God, explained God in these terms.
We not only listened to what Jesus said, we also watched what he did. Jesus was a healer of the human body and spirit. He was a person of mercy and compassion. On the other hand, he harshly confronted those who thought they knew everything and had nothing to learn from him.
In his final non-verbal statement, Jesus gave up his life without a fight. When the time was right, Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice. Was a crucifixion necessary in order to get our attention? Was it a demonstration of God's great love that God would give God's all to persuade us to change our hurtful ways? Was it a repackaging of the ancient Passover ritual in terms the people would notice and understand--like a new wineskin for new wine?
Will any of us look at Jesus on the cross with new eyes, as though seeing him there for the first time? Is anyone able to forget all he or she has learned about the cross in the past and ask God to speak anew to their heart?
When Jesus had finished his work, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. His task was to remove the veil and show all people the truth about God. With his mission completed, he went home to his Father in heaven.