Monday 24 March 2008

So, why did Jesus die?

Yeah, I know many of us just celebrated that Jesus lives, but I took a book along to the coffeehouse this evening...

I should say at this point, I'm doing a bit of theological reflection. If you want to read along, you're welcome. Maybe it will be helpful for you too. If theology (the study of God/knowing God) is not your thing, I understand. I hope to see you at a future post.

Usually on Monday evenings I head off to the supermarket to do the weekly shop, but as today was a Bank Holiday (public holiday) I didn't - mainly for two reasons: 1) We ordered pizza tonight. 2) Quite frankly I didn't want to go grocery shopping. Anyway, post-pizza I was free to head out to Moda for coffee and reading. The book I began is one I bought ages ago, but hadn't got around to it yet. My plan was to read it during Holy Week. Better late than never, eh? The book is Recovering the Scandal of the Cross by Joel Green and Mark Baker.

I've been on a spiritual/theological journey over the last few years which has taken in a number of key areas of the Christian faith. I think this is a good thing. I was talking with my dad last week and I asked him if his thoughts about God have changed over his years of ministry. He told me that anyone who, at 60, still thinks the same way as they did when they were 20 have either put their brains to bed at an early age, or have taken a long journey that has brought them full circle. I must remember that and tell my son many years form now.

One of the issues for me is the question of why did Jesus have to die. Perhaps this is a question you have asked/are asking too. In fact, just to bring my dad back into the picture again, I can remember genuinely asking my father this question when I was a teenager. Something else I should say at this point is that I don't (yet?) have a full and final answer. As an aside, however, I smiled at the very matter-of-fact response that one teenager gave when asked this question on the streets of Dublin. I was emailed a Youtube video of a group of enthusiastic evangelists who, um, confronted, yes that's the word, a group of teens armed with a microphone, a video camera and some tough questions. When asked, why did Jesus die?, the boy quickly retorted: because he lost so much blood. I wanted the evangelists (ie. one who brings good news) to respond with the correction that Jesus most likely suffocated. That was the humiliating way crucifixion was meant to work - usually over a period of days. Instead they took the theological route that made me twinge.

Over the last couple of years I have grown increasingly uncomfortable with the view of Christ's death, that I probably would have predominately held, which goes something like this: You and I are so damned awful that we deserve one hell of a beating. (Please forgive my use of some literal terminology in that last sentence.) The theory then goes on to say that God sent his son to earth in order to take that punishment that billions of people deserve. (How does that work anyway?) I won't expound on what I find so troubling about that, suffice to say I find it troubling. Now don't get me wrong, I firmly believe that we, as a people, have "fallen" below the fullness of life that God originally intended for us. My proof for that is me. There is not one who can make it through life without eventually needing redemption of some sort - whether that is acknowledged or not is another matter.

So in my reading I was presented with another view that brought fresh insight - the idea of Jesus being a ransom for many. I had always thought that it was in some way linked with the above. No, I shouldn't say thought. I presumed. Well it isn't. But will you forgive me for a second time if I wait until tomorrow to share what I discovered? The time stamp at the end of the post only says what time I started writing and not what time it actually is now! Plus this is getting a bit long and I have only just made an introduction. My main point won't be this long!

(The reflection continues here.....)

No comments: