July 25, 2005

The Crucifixion / C

main point -
The main thing that strikes me about John's version of the crucifixion is the lack of angst. Jesus is portrayed as being always in control of the situation ... no emphasis on the emotional or physical suffering, he even carries his own cross without help ... Jesus is not a victim here.

new light -
I hadn't noticed before, but Jesus' mother is never mentioned by name in John's gospel, just as the beloved disciple is not ... some say this is so Mary and John can be symbols of the new church continuing after Jesus' death.

truth -
I think I don't so much like this gospel's portrayal of the "passion" as it seems not true to experience ... I think there would have been a fair amount of fear, pain and despair.

implications -
The implications of this passage are many and I'm not sure I even understand them all. Here's something I wrote about it for my blog last Easter ... Some people might wonder why the retreat is focusing so on this violent brutal end of Jesus' life. After all, he preached for three years but hung on the cross for only three hours. I'm not sure how to answer this, but I believe that contemplating Jesus' torture and death wasa good thing for me, though hard, and I'm not even doing it correctly. This week and the next are meant to be "consoling" in a way I've not yet discovered, but still I would not have missed the experience. When I took this retreat three years ago, my mom, who I lived with, was dying of lung cancer. It was an awful experience but looking back, I wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else in the world. The retreat says that to be with a loved one when they suffer and die is a gift .... I guess I'm trying to open that gift.

problems -
The problem of trying to bring good out of something horrible.


At 4:46 p.m., Blogger david said...

Howdy Crystal.

I have this really weirdsville question. How did you know you weren't doing the contemplation correctly?

As for the rest -- if I were to comment on this passage it would likely be the same as you wrote under "main point" above. I too think the violence of Jesus' death is important -- mostly as my Christian inheritance says it is somehow important for my salvation. But I find the details as typically given kind of hard to fathom. I guess I just don't buy into the old scapegoat theology.

We have as a species (or at least as a culture) grown beyond the notion that killing an innocent person in place of a guilty one can serve justice. And it was due in part to Christianity's influence that we came round to this.

So I'm stuck with Jesus' death as meaningful without being able to say why.

At 5:34 p.m., Blogger crystal said...

Hi David.

The weird question :-) ... I think I was doing the contemplation wrong becasue in the retreat, contemplating Jesos' death is supposed to be "consoling", it's supposed to make you feel good, although probably in a sort of sad way. It isn't supposed to be depressing and upsetting and disturbing, which is how I found it.

I also don't buy the scapegoat thing. I remember reading an article that said that was created by the gospel writers as a way to come to terms with the awful thing that happened ... to try to make sense of the messiah basically being a failure.

But the crucifixion is still meaningful to me for another reason. That retreat fosters a personal relationship between you and Jesus, and so his death is very maningful to you, as would be the death of any of your loved ones. Also, it's theologically meaningful (I think) that Jesus so believed in his message that he was willing to persist in offering it, even to the point of torture and death ... I'm moved by his courage and integrity and love.

At 10:53 a.m., Blogger Larry said...

David wrote, "I guess I just don't buy into the old scapegoat theology." With that I concur.

We have reason to believe that it was a later accretion to the gospels. The "pre-canon" writers, like Clement and Origen, didn't subscribe to it:

"Christ became man 'so that you might learn from a man how to become God'" (Armstrong quoting Clement in A History of God p. 98).

And on page 100: "Origen's view of the divinity of Jesus and the salvation of humanity certainly did not conform to later official Christian teaching: he did not believe that we had been 'saved' by the death of Christ, but that we ascend[ed] to God under our own steam."

"the point is" that when they were teaching... "there was no official doctrine".

Of course 'Thomas' also did not subscribe to it.

All that, too, David (and Crystal) is part of "my Christian inheritance".


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