Originally posted April 9, 2009:
One key to my understanding of the crucifixion is the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. At about the age of 30, Jesus arrives at the Jordan River and is baptized by his cousin, John. He then retreats into the wilderness where, after a 40-day fast, he’s tempted. Really tempted. That is, the result of Jesus’ interaction with “the tempter” was not foreordained. Nor did Jesus know that he was divine in such a way that he wouldn’t cave in to the temptations before him. Had Jesus been cognizant of his divinity, he would not have been truly tempted.
Another key to my understanding of the end of Jesus’ life is what he did with the three previous years of his life. It seems to me that he did just a few things: 1) He taught about the Kingdom of God; 2) He performed miracles; 3) He developed a following that included 12 close followers and, by the end, hundreds of others.
The importance of 1) and 3) are pretty obvious to Jesus’ mission. The significance of the miracles, however, is sometimes misunderstood. They were not significations of Jesus’ divinity (as evidenced by the other magicians and sorcerers on the scene in Jesus’ day). Instead, they were little in-breakings of the new age that Jesus, as the Messiah, was inaugurating.