Why the Cross

Mveng Uganda Martyrs Altar Libermann College Douala Cameroun

From Donald Senior’s Why the Cross: “For the cross of Christ to be seen as both sign and means of salvation, there is another assumption that needs to be taken into account. As noted previously, the Gospels portray the death of Jesus on the cross as the final expression of his mission. Jesus, in effect, dies because of the way he lives. Jesus’ characteristic actions of healing and exorcisms, his association with sinners and the marginalized, his interpretation of the law concerning Sabbath observance and cultic purity, and his prophetic condemnations of what he judged to be hypocrisy or injustice—all of these are met with opposition that ultimately climaxes in the condemnation of Jesus by the religious authorities and the execution of Jesus by the Romans. Thus the crucifixion of Jesus is not portrayed as an unanticipated tragedy that breaks into the gospel drama without preparation or warning. It is, rather, the final and most definitive statement of Jesus’ commitment to giving his life for others—a self-transcendence and act of service already evident throughout his public ministry. Thus the saving significance of the cross of Jesus finds meaning, in part, through the character and commitment of his life…This emphasis on the cross of Christ as the ultimate expression of his mission has become an important note in current theology. For some, a theology of the cross that appears to be isolated from the ministry of Jesus can distort the Christian message and reduce it to a drama in which God seems to arbitrarily deliver Jesus to a cruel death in order to atone for sin or to exact a payment for humanity’s debt of sin. The cross can become a kind of theological shorthand whose full message, when teased out, leaves Christian theology with an image of a God who is cruel and vindictive, exacting the death of God’s own son as payment for human failure or to avenge God’s honor. At the same time, the purpose of Jesus’ life can be interpreted solely as a march to death rather than a mission to bring life. Both of these dimensions—the outcome of resurrection and the connection to Jesus’ ministry—need to be at work in constructing a theology of the cross.”

Roger

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