I haven’t been celebrating “Lent” in a traditional way, like many Christians this time of year, and like I’ve done countless times in the past. However, I have been thinking a lot about Jesus. Why He was born, why He was crucified, and what all that means for my life and your life. As I’m reading the stories, I keep seeing a few themes the writers want to make sure we get. That Jesus was, had to be, the Son of God; That He suffered greatly at the hands of the Romans; And that on the third day He was resurrected.
The writers of the stories of Jesus go to great lengths to point out that he was the Son of God. I notice that He usually refers to Himself as the Son of Man. But others use Son of God. If we unpack it a bit, and think back on how people are referred to in the Bible… Some people even said, “Wait a minute! Isn’t that Jesus, son of Joseph?’ Or we hear of James, son of _________ or John, son of ___________.
People were literally saying Jesus was the son of God. Weren’t they? Maybe the most astounding part is however, Jesus constantly deferred to others. He served others. This is what I came to realize, He went to great lengths to almost turn that around to say that we too are God’s children and that we too could “inherit the Kingdom of God.”
So, now who’s the we? Who will inherit the kingdom? And what exactly is a kingdom in God’s terms? In biblical times, only a son would inherit the kingdom. And nearly always only the first-born son. Yet, in a time of great cultural differences to ours now, Jesus made sure women (and everyone around them) knew they were equal. Jesus just may have been the first feminist!
The metaphorical point here is… He’s saying that everyone is welcome and worthy of inheriting the Kingdom. But I am not sure what inheriting a Kingdom is. Maybe it is to have purpose in this life and harmony with all things, God, others, ourselves and nature, the way Jesus did. I believe that is part of it. But it is also about a Kingdom to come. The one that butterflies and acorns and Jesus’ resurrection point to.
Now we come to all that suffering. Whew. Millions of us have seen The Passion of Christ. I know I had to look away. What do we do with a God that sends all that suffering? I don’t believe that God sent His “only begotten Son” down here SO THAT He could be crucified SO THAT our “sin debt” could be paid in full.
I do not believe His suffering was God-appointed…I believe that God knew what Jesus would face and did not “save” Him from His brutal, demeaning, suffering at human hands. In my opinion, for God to have sent his Son to suffer would be contrary to who God is.
What if God knew exactly what would happen when Love came down from above but hoped that it may serve as a bitter reminder of who WE ARE? The people who can look Love straight in the eye and crucify Him.
We don’t like to admit that though, do we? Does that make you squirm just a bit in your seat? It should. It did me when I began to look at the cross almost as a mirror reflecting the horror we inflict upon one another.
What if the crucifixion wasn’t intended to change God’s mind, but instead, to change our hearts?
I have not heard this concept explained better than by Adam Hamilton in his book, “24 Hours That Changed the World.” If you would like more and better details, I suggest you check this book out. Plus, it gives you a great understanding of the whole history leading up to Easter.
Despite knowing what kind of death He would face, Jesus came and fulfilled his purpose of living in love, right up to the end. His prayer to take away His cup of suffering, and His sweating blood from the anxiety of what was about to happen were understandable. Yet He possessed peace of mind and confidence in whose He was and what would happen next. He chose His last words on the cross very carefully and they are like the most precious jewels He could have ever shared with us. Refracting and dispersing wisdom in many directions and ways.
And the thought that I too, a child of God, could take on the same kind of peace and strength despite the storms of life…? That I too could be able to rise above my circumstances and not allow the situation to determine my state of mind? Powerful stuff here.
Jesus basically says with His life that we are ALL children of God. That it’s just a fact we will suffer in life because we’re human and alive in this world. And that we can take heart because the worst thing is never the last thing!*
Wait a minute, that was a reason for hope.
*Quote from Adam Hamilton