What Jesus did
By acting in the way Jesus did we too can overcome troubles and experience new life
By Tony Staley
This week we commemorate on Good Friday the power of hate, fear
That hate - which grew from the fear of change, of uncertainty,
of loss of power, of the loss of personal and even national life
- led to the crucifixion of Jesus.
It can be easy - sadly, it's a tragic legacy of much of Christian
history - to blame Jesus' death on the Jews. But, as the church
teaches us, the responsibility for Jesus' death rests
collectively on all of sinful humanity, from the first humans
forever on into the future. For if Jesus' death were only the
responsibility of those who cried "Crucify him, crucify him," the
redemptive effects of his death would apply only to them. But
just as we believe that Jesus died for and saved us all, we all
are responsible for his death.
The actions leading to the death of Jesus vividly illustrate the
power of a few to orchestrate the actions of many. Those cries of
"Crucify him, crucify him" were the response of a crowd stirred
to action much as a stadium crowd will join in the wave or scream
at the urging of a defensive lineman in hopes of befuddling the
opposing team's offense. It's the way some celebrate the winning
of a sports championship - or mourn its loss - by turning over
cars and setting fires. It's the way a nation eagerly goes to war
against another nation in response to the manipulation of its
leaders. These responses are not the result of reasonable thought
and discourse, but unthinking reactions that reason would often
judge as unthinkable.
Beyond the factors that led - and still lead - to the death of
Jesus, we come back to the truth that Jesus died willingly for
our sins because he loves us. Simply and almost incomprehensibly
put: The unsinning Jesus died for us sinners because he loves us.
In so doing, Jesus showed us how we each are called to go beyond
our own narrow self-interest and act unselfishly for others.
But Jesus' death isn't the whole story. Indeed, had he just died
we probably never would have heard of him. Instead, Jesus rose
from the dead on the third day, just as we will someday. Until
then, we are called to die and rise numerous times throughout our
lives. Jesus gave us the key to dying and rising as he hung dying
on that cross when he forgave those who were killing him. We,
too, must forgive, die to that wrong and begin life anew. As we
are mired in life's personal injustices, we are called to embrace
the mysterious reality of new life brought by forgiveness.