A Call For Change – A Sermon On John 18:1-19:42

Good Friday – John 18:1-19:42

Here’s my question. What is the cross of Jesus asking for in your life today? And what is it showing you? 

Now let me warn you about this sermon. I’m not talking about that old rugged cross on a hill far away. So get ready.

We often say that the Father sent his only begotten Son into the world to die for our sins, to pay off the human debt that had been increasing ever since Adam and Eve. If that understanding of the cross is correct then Jesus got the parable of the prodigal son wrong. The father should not have forgiven and welcomed home the younger son. He should have tortured and executed the older son. How does that work for you?

“God so loved the world that he gave his only son.” We often hear that verse, John 3:16, as “God so loved the world that he crucified his only son.” What happened to the Father who said, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased” (Mk. 1:11)? What kind of parent does that? Does that sound right to you? Make sense? Should we call that good news or child abuse?

“Whoever has seen me has seen the Father,” Jesus said (Jn. 14:9). We believe and trust that he shows us who God is and what God is like. Listen to what he says: “Put away your sword,” “Turn the other cheek,” “Love your enemies,” “Forgive seventy-seven times,” “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.” Where is the violence in Jesus? When has he required sacrifice? If they’re not in Jesus they’re not in the Father. So if violence and sacrifice are not God’s way, whose way are they?

I think Jesus truly was an innocent victim of violence and that he was sacrificed. But it wasn’t divine violence that sacrificed him, it was human violence. I think Jesus spoke truth to power – the truth of love, mercy, forgiveness, compassion, justice, hospitality – and he was taken out by that power.* 

What if Jesus’ death on the cross did not extinguish the cruelty of the world but exposed and condemned it? What if the crucifixion did not change the world but is calling for change in the world? What if the cross is not a sign of the conquering power of God but a sign that God stands with the innocent conquered by power?*

“It is finished,” Jesus said. Those are not the final words of a winner. They are the final words of a witness who, God help him, has testified to the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.*

I wonder if we’ve spent too much time glorying in the cross of Jesus instead of taking up our cross and following him. I wonder what truth to power you need to speak in your life today.

*These paragraphs are based on the writing of John D.Caputo in On Religion, 129-137, and Cross and Cosmos, 5.

____________________
Holy Week 2021
+ Palm Sunday: Working Out Our Life
+ Monday in Holy Week: Fragrancing Life
+ Tuesday in Holy Week: What Troubles Your Soul?
+ Wednesday in Holy Week: The Night Of Betrayal
+ Maundy Thursday: Coming Clean About Ourselves

17 comments

  1. “God stands with the innocent conquered by power.” Yes! God went all the way to the cross to stand with us in nonviolence, suffering with love for us. Have you read the book by Gil Bailie, about Rene Girard’s anthropological understanding of the scapegoat and violence, “the Cross Unveiled?” It really helped me. The next thousand years are going to be about how to help ourselves follow the model of Jesus as a nonviolent human. We are going to begin to really understand the love of God, rather than fear the power of God. THANK YOU for this reflection!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Martina, I’ve not read that book. I’ve read some articles and parts of other books that really on Bailie and Gerard. In some ways violence has become an idolatry for us and is so contrary to the nonviolent Jesus.

      God’s peace be with you,
      Mike+

      Like

  2. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    I never looked at the Crucifixion as Jesus “being taken out.” He offered himself as a sacrifice for our transgressions. He chose to give His life for us.
    Luke 22:19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My Body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

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  3. At last! I feel I have waited years to hear this. Thank you so much for your words. For most of my 80+ years I have struggled with God sending Jesus to be tortured and killed to pay for my sins. I heard this message 10 years ago from my mentor, but have not heard it since. Jesus remained true to the end. He was killed by men for his message, not his life. We are given the perfect example to follow, our goal being to be transformed into the image of Christ (Romans 8) – step by step.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Heather, thank you so much for your comment and for reading my blog. Yes, Jesus was always true to himself and his death was a consequence of his life and message.

      Happy Easter. Christ is risen.
      Mike+

      Like

  4. Wow. Right on.
    Had I heard these words spoken from the church 30 years sgo, perhaps I would have not had to leave the institution.
    Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “For what I (the Apostle Paul) received I passed on to you as of FIRST IMPORTANCE; THAT CHRIST DIED FOR OUR SINS according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures …” 1 Corinthians 15:3-4
    “Surely He (the coming Messiah) took up our pain and bore our suffering,
    yet we considered Him punished by God, stricken by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities;
    the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and (Yahweh) the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” – Isaiah 53:4-6
    If you cherry-pick through the Scriptures in order to create the narrative you want instead of what it actually says, you create a lie from the Truth. Satan is the father of lies. Which Father are you serving?

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    1. I think you have already decided which Father I serve. That’s ok, we all pick our cherries, don’t we? I trust, however, that Christ will rise in both our lives.

      I hope you have a blessed and joyful Easter.
      Mike+

      Like

  6. I want to say thank you for sharing your work with me. Not sure how I ended up on your email list but I do appreciate it in this time of waiting. Happy Easter weekend and Happy Spring. Eloisa

    Eloisa Abislaiman APRN Tampa, Florida (813) 459-0926

    > The information transmitted is intended only for the person or entity to which it is addressed and may contain CONFIDENTIAL material. If you receive this material/information in error, please contact the sender and delete or destroy the material/information.

    >

    Liked by 1 person

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