Why Was He Crucified?

Why Was He Crucified? March 22, 2013

There’s still time for you to enter our latest #progGOD Challenge: Why a Crucifixion? Remember, this time there are prizes for the best entries. And, being that it’s Holy Week next week, so lots of preachers will be cruising the internet looking for material. You might get quoted at your parents’ church!

"Have you considered professional online editing services like www.CogitoEditing.com ?"

The Writing Life
"I'm not missing out on anything - it's rather condescending for you to assume that ..."

Is It Time for Christians to ..."
"I really don't understand what you want to say.Your http://europe-yachts.com/ya..."

Would John Piper Excommunicate His Son?

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

TRENDING AT PATHEOS Progressive Christian
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Kenton

    Well, if had been stoned instead of crucified. Catholics would make a fist and hit their heads instead of making the sign of the cross.

  • Jesus was crucified then for the same reason that He would be (and is) crucified today. He revealed the truth about us:

    • The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil. (John 7:7)

    Even today, He testifies against us – that we are sinners who need the Savior – and all of our “conversations” and conferences fail to obscure or change any of this.

  • Si Lee

    It reveals that despite what the Gospel writers try their best to disguise, Jesus was ultimately an innocent victim of Roman ‘justice’. He willingly submitted to this death to stand in solidarity with all the victims of the scapegoat mechanism.

  • Brian P.

    He was crucified because that’s what Romans did for various reasons.

  • Buck Eschaton

    “The Lord reigns from a tree”.

    You’re not considering that it is to your advantage that one man should die for the people rather than the whole nation perish.”

    We have a law,” the Jews replied to him, “and according to that law He must die, because He made Himself the Son of God.”

    Because that’s what Yahweh does He carries the sin and dies. He is to carry our sin, to free us of our sin/violence/hate/resentment/etc.

  • The cowering remnants of a broken humanity peer out through the trees at the approach of the Almighty. They tremble in fear at the sound of his voice crying out for them. Then, they feel a hand on their shoulder. They turn, and there stands a man…a ragged, rugged man. Turns out, he’d been there all along. “What are we hiding from?” he asks. And they have no answer.

    Something like that…

  • Jesus spoke truth to power – that’s always a dangerous activity. Those in power eliminated him, via, in essence, a political assassination.

  • T.S.Gay

    There are parallel passions at the cross. Mimetic desire Love desire.

  • Seems death seems to follow those who dare to love or stand up to the powerless. In Jesus, one sees God standing for the outcasts and God’s identification with humanity.

  • From my post, Nisan 11: Jesus Institutes the Holy Law of Love . . .

    For those of us who identify as Emergents and are Christians of a new kind who follow the Jesus Way, the Holy Law of Love — the Greatest Commandment — is the foundation of our faith life, and the very substance of the Gospel. No other “rule” or commandment guides us, because as Jesus said, “there is no other commandment greater than these.”

    For Emergents such as myself, the institution of the Holy Law of Love is our “Mount Sinai moment” (see Exodus 19:5-8, 24:7-8, and Deuteronomy 6:1-6). And where Jesus was executed four days later, breathing his last breath for the sake of this Holy Law of Love, we can revision the breaking of his body and the pouring out of his blood as the inaugural divine witness “sealing” the New Covenant of Love and Joy with all humankind (similarly as the Covenant with the Israelites at Sinai was sealed with the sprinkling of blood from a sacrifice). And in the institution of the Holy Law of Love, and in how Jesus lived for it and died for it, we know the Way to Oneness.

    As for Easter Sunday, which celebrates the story of Jesus rising from the grave two days after his death, how can we understand it in a new way, especially for those of us who do not believe in Jesus’ resurrection as a physical reality either historically or theologically? Jesus’ vision and teachings — and the universal Truth they bear witness to — remain alive. And if the Jesus Way is the best way for living authentically and for creating the Oneness which is our human purpose, then “resurrection” need not be confessed as a physical reality, but can be accepted as a powerful spiritual reality by which we can experience the re-creation of new life in the midst of this one.

  • Scott S

    Thanks Tony… It took me 2 hours to hash this all out.. I’ve now missed Sunday morning Yoga because of you… geesh… this is my first time ever on patheos… I don’t know how you do it… massive time sink and I’m no closer to an answer than I was when I started. Screw it, I’m off to perform some gluttony at a buffet and thank God he sent his son so I can eat bacon.

    Easter is almost here. Personally I find this the most awkward time of the year in quest to understand God in the ways of Jesus… put simply the resurrection just isn’t that important to my faith. The crucifixion is… as it is the ultimate demonstration of selflessness.

    In Christian theology the atonement refers to the forgiving or pardoning of sin through the death of Jesus Christ by crucifixion, which made possible the reconciliation between God and creation. Over time multiple theories of atonement of come and gone…

    1) The Ransom Theory / “Christus Victor” view of the atonement. Let me see if I can get this theory correct… Adam & Eve screwed up creating original sin. As a result mankind became subservient to the devil… in order to redeem humanity God sent Jesus as a “ransom” so that the devil would kill him, and thus lose all right to humanity following the resurrection.
    In this version of atonement God appears powerless to God’s holiness and is somehow negotiating with the devil….

    2) Satisfaction Theory view of atonement. In this one it appears that Christ suffered as a substitute on behalf of humankind satisfying the demands of God’s honor. Christ is punished instead of humanity, thus satisfying the demands of justice so that God can justly forgive.
    In this version of atonement God appears to not find justice (When would it be just for a judge to take the sentence of a criminal… that is selflessness, but not justice).

    3) The Last Scapegoat. This theory seems to be based on the idea that all of our desires are borrowed from other people (memic desire) and the only way to release the resulting conflict between two people who desire the same thing (memic rivalry) is a scapegoat mechanism. For the scapegoat mechanism to work something must be sacrificed to release the mimetic rivalry. In this theory of atonement Jesus is presented as the last scapegoat to demonstrate the power of selfless love over the memic desire/rivalry model.
    In this version it is not us trying to appease God, but rather God crossing the chasm to us. I like that.

    4) Moral Influence view (not active atonement, but passive influence). In this view Christ’s passion was an act of exemplary obedience to a broken sacrificial model and was given as an example to affects the intentions of those who come to know about it. To fully grasp this version one first has to redefine ‘sin’. What if ‘sin’ is not a list of bad things to avoid? What if ‘sin’ is the failure to do the positive things that bring a reconciliation of all things? In the same way dark is not the opposite of light but the absence of light, sin is not the opposite of love but the absence of selfless love. What if Jesus life was not about atoning for our sins so we can get to heaven (God’s Kingdom) in some other place or time, but rather Jesus’ purpose was to teach us is to ‘love God/others over self’ as a way to bring reconciliation and wholeness to all things. What if Jesus death didn’t atone for my list of mis-behaviors but instead showed me a perfect example of loving others over self?
    In this fourth model of atonement… I understand the relevance of the crucifixion… but I don’t understand the purpose of the resurrection.

    The fourth model seems to fit my views the best. The purpose of the crucifixion is to demonstrate the ultimate act of selflessness .. However I still don’t understand the purpose of the resurrection… Maybe it just makes a better plot line.

  • Mr. Pearson,
    Thanks for your comments on atonement. I do believe that the Law of Love is emphasized in the Scriptures, especially in the New Testament and in John’s books.
    However, the reality of the atonement cannot be diminished for some “new understanding” (which btw Christ warned against), nor can the idea that a substitutionary atonement was necessary for us to even know Christ’s love…
    Christ’s suffering and death on the cross is absolutely necessary for opening the way (ie “tearing the veil”) for us to know God.
    Also, any “new way” of understanding that denies the physical, actual, historical resurrection of Jesus hinders our understanding of God’s power to heal, forgive, and manifest Himself in our lives and world. As Scripture said of the resurrection:
    “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. ” So, not only is the atonement central to experiencing Christ’s love, so also is the resurrection.

    • Kris, thanks for your comment.

      My issue would primarily be with where you mention “the reality of the atonement.”

      I, of course, reject the notion of the atonement’s “reality” as if it were a real event in history; a reality in actual time. It is, perhaps, a “spiritual reality” within a traditionalist Christian theological context; within the sacred drama of Christian belief. And I respect that quite highly. But I do not accept the traditionalist view of the atonement.

      And, frankly, there is no reason for me to. There is nothing which compels me to embrace it as a “reality.” (And much of this is because I do not accept the Bible as absolute “truth,” or as the “Word of God.” Because there is nothing which compels me to accept it as some kind of authority.)

      “New understanding” is at the very core of Christianity, for Christianity itself was a “new understanding” of the Hebrew faith, inasmuch as Jesus launched an ethical and theological reform of the Judaism of his day.

      And we’re at a moment in history where now millions are experiencing new understandings of Christianity, and thereby embracing various ethical and theological reforms of it within their lives, faith communities, etc. God continues to participate with humankind in new and unexpected ways.

      You also wrote: “any ‘new way’ of understanding that denies the physical, actual, historical resurrection of Jesus hinders our understanding of God’s power to heal, forgive, and manifest Himself in our lives and world.

      Obviously I disagree. In fact, I would argue that it is actually the kind of absolutism expressed in your remark that hinders our communion with God. And absolute insistence on certain theological notions has historically resulted in tremendous harm and division. It’s what Jesus referred to as “straining the gnat and swallowing the camel.”

      Theological absolutism typically has the consequence of missing the more important things. And I will have no part of it.

  • I think that there is sound biblical evidence for all of those theories of the atonement to be based in truth. there is scripture to support the ransom theory (1 Tim 3:6, Heb 9:15), the satisfaction theory (Heb 2:17, 1 John 2:2), the scapegoat theory (Isaiah 53:4, 12), and even the moral influence view (1 Pet 2:21-25)…
    I mean that no one theory holds it all together, I think because whenever man tries to “organize” the Scriptures into complete theories, he tends to favor some things over others, or omits parts of things that are difficult to fit into a single unifying theory.

    • 2 Timothy 4:2

      Amen Kris I totally agree with you on this, and you also backed up your arguments with scripture which is what we are all meant to do. In 1 Corinthians 15 says that if Christ did not rise then our faith is in vain and we are the most to be pitied. But Jesus really did physically rise from the dead and was seen by many witnesses, and even touched by Thomas. Thank you for this post Kris

  • John McCauslin

    I’m surprised that so few attempts were made to address this issue. It is such a core issue and yet one which is so poorly understood – not that I have THE answer, but the limited number of traditional views are so limited, so inadequate, and so much at odds with one another!

    My view is that the Crucifixion was neither atoning nor particularly victorious. My understanding is that God permitted the Crucifixion as an ndictment against humanity, a finger pointed directly at us, saying in effect: this is what you are capable of, such horrible gratuitous violence, against the innocent, against the Son of your very Creator! Our proneness to violence, even and especially against God, is in our DNA. Never can we claim to have risen above it and never can we claim this propensity is in the past. Nazi Germany is a recurring possibility, even in good Christian America. Each one of us did this, and each one of us could do this again. Good people will stoop this low, and good people will stand by and do nothing. That being said, God loves us, and each one of us. The love of God does not depend on the purity of our deeds nor our intentions, but on the nature and character of God. Having been so indicted, how will we respond? With humility? Instead of the armor of God, will we bare ourselves in humility? Will we surrender our prerogative of judgment? How will we embrace such grace, and how will we reciprocate?

    The Resurrection is a seal of hope, hope that notwithstanding our failure on Calvary, God will prevail, and in the very act of resurrection God offers us redemption, God offers us forgiveness, God offers us healing, God offers us new life and new possibilities.