Wednesday, February 20, 2013

How Jesus Saved the World, Part 1

We are too used to reading the Gospels’ stories of Jesus’ arrest, trial, condemnation, and death from a devotional perspective and so we miss a lot of what’s going on. We actually have a difficult time trying to figure out the meaning of the details of the story. Of course, we will defend the historicity of the details of the story against unbelieving academics and liberal churchman. But why these details? Why any details at all?

John has already wonderfully summarized things in chapters 1 and 3. “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world” and “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son.” But what does God’s provision of a lamb for the sins of the world have to do with this long story of what happens to Jesus the night before he dies? What does God loving the world have to do with the machinations and conspiracies of Judas, the High Priests, Pilate, and the Jewish crowds? A great deal, truly, but we will have to learn to read the Passion accounts a bit differently.

You see, here in the narrative of Jesus’ arrest and trial and condemnation we have a somewhat surprising perspective.  It does not contradict or compete with the other apostolic explanations of Jesus’ death; rather, it complements and enriches them. Remember, the meaning of the death of Jesus is far richer than we are often used to acknowledging. When we look at the details of the text—what events and characters and words John has carefully chosen to weave together from the story of Jesus’ last few days—we can get a pretty good idea of what he is trying to communicate. This is not fiction, but history. Nevertheless, narrating history is never simply a matter of reproducing what has happened. Out of a million and more little details one must pick and choose just what to record.

Read the rest here at Trinity House.

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