God's Apology

Monday, April 12, 2004

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Part Six of Seven on the Cross

Today is Good Friday, and the Passion narrative for the Good Friday Service will come from John's Gospel. Jesus' final words are "It is finished".

The original Greek carries a connotation of a debt paid in full. On this day, we will hear preachers around the world speak of how Jesus lived the perfect life in our place and took our sins to the cross to pay the debt owed for the evil we do in this life.

In order to unpack Jesus' final words further, we could go to the beginning of the Biblical narrative to understand this finished work that pays the debt in full.

In the beginning of the narrative, God created woman and man in his image and likeness. Humanity was the absolute height of God's creation, and he sat back to rest and enjoy what he had made when he finished making us.

But then, God decided that while his children were just a few days old, and ignorant of good and evil, he would allow them to be put to a test with life and death consequences, with the future of all humanity hanging in the balance.

When the height of his creation failed this test, this God who thought of himself as perfect now repented of his creation. So he sent a mighty deluge to wipe out humanity. But not being able to make up his mind, God decided to let one man live named Noah.

Perfect God was still upset with the imperfection of his creation, so he thought maybe that he should demand Abraham to offer a sacrifice. He asked Abraham to kill his beloved son, Isaac. Once again, God changed his mind, but not until after Abraham had already tied up Isaac and put quite a scare into him. Thinking that maybe this type of sacrifice might be drastic, God decided he would settle for the foreskin of the male penis from that day forward.

The all powerful and all knowing God, despite his perfection, couldn't seem to gain control of his imperfect creation. He decided that there were just too many human beings for him to pay attention to all of them, so he focused his attention on the children of Abraham.

As we hear it told, the first thing God decided to do with the children of Abraham was to send them into slavery for four hundred years. When he finally heard their cry for deliverance, he lead them into the desert to die of starvation, plague and snake bites. Before killing them all himself, he commanded Moses to have the elders of the community execute a certain number in mass: twenty four thousand in all! (c.f. Num 25:1-5)

According to the Scriptures, the next thing God did was to tell Joshua to go into a foreign country and slaughter all the people who live there, including the women and children. Joshua and his troops weren't entirely successful, so God had to raise up various judges later to continue the killing. But he kept tiring of offering his help, so he did things like abandon Samson because Samson had his hair cut. We're not entirely sure why God had such a preference for long-haired men.

The people he created still seemed a bit unruly, so God decided to raise up a king. As the Bible tells the story, he chose a psychotic named Saul at first. That wasn't working too well, so he selected a murdering adulterer after that. This seemed to work a bit better, and he let David's polygamous son take the throne next.

But then, the whole king idea wasn't working out either, so according to the narrative, God decided to give up on the project. He allowed the children of Abraham to be lead into exile and slavery once again.

At this point, the people banded together and looked to prophets and began to compile a literature we would come to know as the Old Testament. The people cried out to God for mercy. They asked this God to have compassion. Despite all that God had done, they prayed and hoped for a day when God would give liberty to captives and freedom to the oppressed. They wanted good news in their poverty. They longed for the day when God would let the blind see, the lame walk, and lepers would become clean. They became anxious for the day when even the dead would rise!

The written expression of the people's hope came to be desired so strongly that humanity has come to see this hope as inspired by a higher power than ourselves.

God seemed moved by the people's hope. In Jesus, this hope began to be realized.

Perhaps, rather than taking our own sins to the cross, the Biblical God went to the cross to show us the depth of his own sorrow for the pain and suffering he has allowed in the world. The debt is now paid in full.

Go to Part VII: The Kerygma

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posted by Jcecil3 4:06 PM

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