In some ways what we have heard speaks for itself. The depth of betrayal and suffering that Jesus endured for our sake is in some ways incomprehensible. Yet, for 2000 years Christians have pondered the text and poured over it – suggesting this reason and that for Jesus death, especially in respect to God’s part in the event. Did God plan it this way? Was it God’s will? Is God’s way of dealing with sin such violence as this infanticide?
Following closely the story we should note that it is Caiaphas who prophesies the need to kill one man in the place of the many. It is Judas who betrays him. And, it is Pilate who ultimately allows the even to occur. Where is God in this picture – once again I recall Jesus words to Philip, “If you have seen me you have seen the Father.”
For there to be any coherence in the eternal Godhead the Father hangs with Jesus on the cross – the Father is not pitted against the Son, he is with the Son just as Psalm 22 affirms:
he did not hide his face from me,
but heard when I cried to him.
So in Jesus’ death the world crucifies God. Humanity nails its creator to the cross. This is the pinnacle of Adam’s grab for divine power. It is a grab for divine power that we all participate in, and some of us even demand.
We want to be the rulers of our own lives and our own destinies and never more so than in our modern age. We have so much power and wealth at out finger tips. There are those who even claim that we are the last mortal generation.
From the renaissance and through the enlightenment up to this present era the West have been laying Christ out on the slab not to rise again but to remain dead! Our culture not only wants to kill God as was done so long ago on the cross but our culture seeks to ensure that he does not rise again. For most Australians their view of Jesus Christ is that rigor mortis has well and truly set in and that there are other far more appealing possibilities in life without God.
Jesus died because we nail our Creator up, because we abandon God on the cross, because we want to leave Christ on the slab.
This is God’s gift to us that though we deserve to return to the nothingness from which we were made, it is he who descended into death and hell to meet us there and bring us home.
Here I do not find an angry God being assuaged by the death of the pure sacrifice, rather I see a God who willingly sacrifices all in opposition to the violence which we demand.
On this day that humanity kills its Creator we remember that in God accepting this end in Jesus there is now nowhere that we go that God has not been before, not even death. And this descent into death in itself is not the last word because Sunday is coming.