Sunday, April 1, 2012

Why did Jesus have to go through this terrible ordeal?

Scripture Matthew 16:21
From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.


Why did Jesus have to go through this terrible ordeal?

What is the meaning of His death?

The question of Jesus death has echoed up and down the centuries.

Let me get at it this way.
Jesus comes as a warrior.

CS Lewis says Jesus came the way He did, a little baby born in a distant outpost of the Roman empire because he was being snuck clandestinely behind enemy lines.

Jesus came as God's own self but entering into a dysfunctional world, a sinful world.

Therefore as He emerged preaching and teaching and performing miracles and radiating the divine presence, He awakened opposition.
We hear that up and down the Gospels from the very beginning.
He's opposed.
Herod tries to stamp Him out and He has to go into exile.
From the minute He appears in the public scene, some cheer, others are opposed to Him.

It comes to His climax of course in the passion.
When you read these great passion narratives in the Gospels, it is as if though all forms of human sin and dysfunction come to meet Him.

We hear for example of the explicit betrayal by Judas.
That you would turn your back on your friend and mentor.

But you also see the more subtle forms of resistance and denial when Peter denies he even know Him and the other disciples fall asleep at His moment of truth.
That sloth in the presence of the good.

You also see the great disorder and injustice of the Sanhedrin.
You see Pontius Pilate who knows the truth but won't follow through on it.
You see the incredible brutality of the Temple guards and the Roman guards as they torture Him and then lead Him out to crucifixion.
You see something even most terrible in those who mock Him even as He hangs dying on this instrument of torture.

It is as though all of human darkness and all of human sin comes out.

It is as though He draws it out by His own goodness and His own perfection and the radiance of His life.

And He's overwhelmed by it. Jesus dies. He really dies.
Not just apparently. Not just as play acting. He dies. Crushed by the evil of the world.

Then in the resurrection, God's love conquers that evil.

He took it on but then in the resurrection what we see when Jesus says shalom to those who had abandoned Him.

He says peace to those who ran from Him, to those who had fallen asleep in His hour of need.
When He says shalom it signals that God's love and forgiveness can swallow up all of the sin of the world.

What you see in the Cross of Jesus is the sin of the world.

The author of life came, Saint Peter said, and you killed Him. That means all is not well with us.
It means you can see in the very wounds of Jesus the dysfunction of the world but now all that sin, all that dysfunction has been swallowed up. It has been conquered by the ever greater forgiveness and love of God.

And that is why in Romans, Paul can say I am certain that neither death not life, nor angels nor principalities... can separate us from the love of God.
Paul knows it because we killed God. We threw all the dysfunction of the world at God and God still loves us.

God can swallow that up in His forgiveness.
That's Christianity.
That's why the Cross of Jesus was necessary.
That's why the Cross of Jesus saves us.
That is why we hold it up on Good Friday and say there is the Cross on which hung the salvation of the world.
We know we are saved.

We are saved precisely through that terrible Cross.

Source: Fr Robert Barron

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