Dying is a topic most us would rather avoid, but Jesus didn’t shy away from the subject. In fact, he focused on it – maybe because He came to die for us.
I guess I would probably be a bit fixated on the subject if I knew that was the fate that awaited me…. Wait a minute…. that is the fate that awaits me!
Well, maybe it was different for Jesus because it wasn’t just the fate that awaited him; it was among the primary purposes for which he became a man. Though he existed in the form of God, He didn’t hold on to His superior position. He emptied himself, taking the form of a servant being born a man. “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8) Simply put – Jesus came to die – for us.
As Jesus neared the time when He would be betrayed into the hands of the tribunal that would seal His death warrant, He said:
“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!”” (John 12:27-28)
For Jesus, death wasn’t inevitable. He chose to die. This does make him different than us: He chose to become one of us and die for us. And because He chose it, could it have been any different for Him?
On Good Friday we remember the ultimate sacrifice God made for us. Not only did He empty Himself of His glory to become like us, taking on human flesh, but He was obedient to the law that He established for us – obedient to death – even death on the cross. We shudder at the thought of hanging on a cross, but it’s hard for us to imagine how utterly shameful crucifixion was in the 1st Century.
This was not just a person, though, this was God who had already shed his glory to become like us and walked in humble obedience to all that He required of us – something that we do not even do ourselves. This man who hung tortuously and shamefully on the cross was also fully God who certainly suffered all the pain and shame that a man and God could possibly feel at the hands of His own creation.
According to Dr. Gary Habermas, Paul cites a number of early Christian creeds in his letters, and Peter cites one as well. Of first importance is 1 Corinthians 15:3-7. The other creeds include 1 Corinthians 11:26; Acts 2:22-36; Romans 4:25; Romans 10:9; Philippians 2:8; 1 Timothy 2:6; and 1 Peter 3:18. Other scholars identify creeds in 1 Corinthians 11:23-29; Romans 1:3-4; Romans 10:9; 1 Timothy 3:16; 2 Timothy 2:8; and Philippians 2:6-11.[ii]
The importance of these creeds is that they include the earliest message of the church following the death of Jesus. They reveal the most fundamental and central message of the early followers of Jesus. The significance of these creeds, then, can’t be understated, and they all have one theme – the death and resurrection of Jesus. Continue reading “The Message in the Earliest Creeds in the New Testament”→
These familiar phrases from 1 Corinthians. 15:55 (quoting Hosea 13:14) jumped out at me as I read them again. Of course, I know that God has swallowed up death in victory through the resurrection of Jesus Christ! But, what does that really mean for us?
Once a year people remember the death of Jesus Christ on Good Friday. Few historical facts are as well-documented as the death of a man referred to as Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah (Hebrew) or Christ (Greek) around 33 A.D. The claim that he was resurrected from the dead is a different matter. The modern mind, influenced by many centuries of science and discovery and the relatively recent (200 hundred years) of ascension of materialist thought, is highly skeptical.
Looking back at the Gospel accounts with a modern, skeptical filter, the implausibility of the story colors our view. Some modern thinkers conclude that the story was manufactured by the followers of Jesus.
Few things really bring the story of Christ and what he did for us into sharp focus. We know it intellectually, but it does not really register with the clarity and presence that such a cosmic event should. We get distracted with the mundane elements of life and the fleeting excitements that pull our attention away from God’s ultimate act of love.
I am as guilty as anyone. I find myself registering somewhere in the depths of my soul, somewhere in the back of my mind, that this amazing, unbelievable act of love was (is) as real as anything in my life, actually the most real and profoundly significant reality in my life, and yet I do not live as if that were really true. The fact that it registers so dully with my senses most of the time is something I recognize, but seem powerless (or lacking in will) to summon to the surface of my daily consciousness.
There are times when that eternal Act becomes more present than others. For some people, experiences have etched the reality of that Act more deeply into the consciousness, and it usually comes through pain, tragedy or great mercy and near avoidance of pain and tragedy. I think it can happen on both sides of that divide.
This link is to one of those events, an event that we know all too well. This is a view from a pilot who sat in the cockpit of one of the planes that never reached its intended destination on 9/11.