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, 2012
I 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, 2012
So, 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.

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