Crucifixion, Good Friday, Jesus, John 3:16, moral theory, progressive Christianity, radical love, sacrificial atonement, salvation, substitutionary atonement
A man that loved everyone he met is executed by the government. According to writings, thorns are pushed into his head, he is beaten, spat upon and forced to parade through a city carrying a heavy piece of wood. Nails were pierced into his hands and feet, and he struggled to breathe as he slowly died upon a cross.
I’m sorry… there is no good news in the expectation that one person must die so that everyone is alive and happy.
To me, Good Friday is deeply painful.
I can’t believe in a God that would expect his or her own son to receive such pain. I can’t believe in a God that goes against the God of Psalm 139 – following us into the very depths of the earth and underworld for no other reason that God loves us. Believing that God expected Jesus to die for humanity and then deserting Jesus in those painful last few minutes is not the God I know and love.
I can’t believe that God would force us to believe this horrific story in order for us to have some perfect afterlife or perfect relationship with the Divine.
Back in seminary, we read the short story “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”. The story describes paradise, the most perfect place on earth. Yet in order for the people of Omelas to have such perfection, one person, a child, is required to suffer. In our story, that is Jesus.
So, on this “Good” Friday, I still embrace my salvation through Christ – through his life. When Jesus touched the unclean and stood up for the marginalized, Jesus saved humanity. Jesus went so far to defend “the least of these” that he was executed for doing so.
Because it was through his life, not his death, that I find salvation.
And I thank Jesus the Christ for loving so extravagantly that he was willing to get arrested and find his demise on a cross. But I refuse to claim joy because of the suffering he went through. And I refuse to embrace a Divine Mother or Father that would require for this to happen.
Like John 3:16 states, I believe that God sent Jesus to this world to save this world. I just don’t believe that it was through his death. Instead, it was through his life and ministry. Each day I find salvation through the radically loving acts of Jesus.
The cross has meaning – the significance that a person would go to the ends of the earth in order to show love. But the cross is not joyous to me.
The cross is an electric chair, a firing squad. It’s lethal injection. Instead of executing someone who hurt the world, the Roman government made this huge error by executing a loving person.
But the Roman government didn’t win. Hate didn’t win. But that’s a story for another day…
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