Many years ago when I was serving as a youth minister, our congregation’s new pastor sat in on a youth group meeting I was leading. During our conversation about Jesus on the cross, the idea of the creation crucifying the creator, why Jesus would permit this, etc., he said, “Jesus could not come down from the cross.” I was speechless. I was, in all honesty, a little angry because I was offended and concerned about what theology he was sharing with the youth (read here “MY” youth). I was challenged as well; how could Jesus be a dupe, a victim? Was this not Jesus’ free will? Had he not submitted to this? Regardless of what one’s understanding might be or where I am now on the subject, I mulled it over trying to understand where this was coming from. Eventually, I came to the recognition that I agreed, Jesus could not come down from the cross. Not because he was incapable of calling on angels to get him down; not because he was incapable of resolving this in some other way. Jesus could not come down from the cross because it was not his nature.
To say he could not come down was a reflection on who he is and what he is about; he was, perhaps, unable to go against the will of God because to go against the will of God would not be his nature. I had to turn it over and over and look through it to understand the statement. I confess I do not even know what the pastor’s intention was, but the process of looking at it critically, completely changed my understanding of the statement. My understanding continues to change as I gather more information/experience on my faith journey and as God continues to bless me.
We have just celebrated the resurrection of our Lord and Savior. What does that mean to you? Have you examined the meaning of the resurrection? I invite you during Eastertide to examine what the events of Holy Week mean to you as a person of faith.
Jesus conquered death…is that the whole story?
What does the resurrection mean if we are united with Christ? Does this mean that like Jesus we will also be raised?
Does the resurrection confirm the truth of the Gospel? How does that affect how we interpret the Gospel?
Does the resurrection prove that Jesus is the Son of God?
Does this mean that the gift of the Holy Spirit will be poured out on believers? What about non-believers?
Our time of study, prayer, and discernment does not end with Holy Week. The world is trying to sell us a brand of Christianity that I believe Jesus would not recognize as his teaching. When we are unsure of what we believe or why we believe it, we are unprepared to respond when our faith is challenged.
What is the value of an unexamined faith? Will it sustain you in difficult times?
The love of God surrounds us; we are all God’s people. The story of Jesus’ saving acts can withstand examination and consideration. In this time of celebration of the Resurrection may we continue to build a closer relationship with our creator and our savior through study, prayer, and discernment.
Blessings and joy,