June 12, 2009

Why was Jesus crucified?

My friend James gave me an explanation for why Jesus was crucified that overcomes one of my primary stumbling blocks for acceptance of Jesus' life-story being all-important.

I have been "blocked" by this set of components:

Since God is omnipotent, why would it be necessary for God to sacrifice his son, if that is all so painful. I mean, if God can do pretty much anything, He can get the result, forgiveness of man's sins, without any prerequisite.
Preachers at the mission have explained things in these terms: A sacrifice had been necessary as atonement for sins. Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice, relieving mankind of the necessity of sacrificing animals for sin in the future, and it gains man an opportunity to return to an edenic heaven. By accepting Jesus into our heart, we are saved from sin and may see God and praise Him forever.

THAT explanation seems wildly strange to me. There is simply no logic I can find in the set of conditions and what transpires.

James, though, explains the crucifixion in this way [paraphrasing]:

Jesus should be seen as an example for us. His goodness and humility are qualities we should emulate and make authentic for our self. We should strive to be courageous, willing to pay the ultimate price in our love of God and in our love of our neighbors (which are everybody, including those who see us as as their enemy).

11 comments:

WH said...

Hey Tom,

The Mission's explanation makes sense within the context of the times in which he was crucified, when offerings were still seen as necessary.

James' explanation is an Orange meme take on it, or maybe even a Green meme - much more doable for a modern human.

Peace,
Bill

~C4Chaos said...

Tom,

i remember my first Buddhist teacher. her speculation on why Christ was crucified made sense to me at that time (and it still does).

here's how it goes...

Christ was a mystic. he had realizations and he boldly preached that realization to a fundamentalistic mythical culture which doesn't tolerate other views. he simply clashed with the people in authority and he was punished according to laws and customs. it's as simple as that.

even nowadays same thing will happen to you or me if we start "preaching" our notion of "spirituality" in fundamentalistic cultures that are stuck in medieval worldviews.

if Christ lived in India, then he would've probably lived a long life like the Buddha :)

but in the end it's a matter of interpretation depending on what worldview we're coming from ;)

that is all.

~C

Visual-Voice said...

I agree, the logic doesn't hold up, even though I identified myself as an evangelical Christian for many years. To gain a better understanding of Jesus and his teachings, both must be put in context with the pagan/religious beliefs of both Jesus' time, and the time of the writers of the gospels. Maybe we'll never know the absolute answer to your question of why Jesus was crucified, (I'm assuming you're referring to his motivation) but maybe a better question to ask is why he lived. Jesus' core teachings on Love, which can be found in his first Sermon on the Mount in the Beatitudes ~ are all we really need to know and to embrace to be a follower of him... the Christ.. the divine within all of us. Anything else seems to complicate and take away from the core message of denial of "self", or letting go of the EGO, and picking up one's "cross" so to speak, and following the path of selfless giving. So much of what is held as standard Christianity speaks more to the early marketing of the church (Paul's letters and Constantine's maneuvering) than to the message of a man who saw into the true nature of us all, which is truly connected, open and loving. Thankfully, many in the "the church" are beginning to see this.

Tom said...

Thanks, all! I am moved to agree with the wisdom from each of you.

WH: Yes. Christian preachers at the mission insist upon the unchanged nature of God/Jesus and, thus, see a literalist and constant interpretation of the Bible as required. They don't know about, and would not accept, the idea that people and culture have undergone an "uplift" in our worldviews over the many centuries, and that the Bible can have layered meanings, appropriate to the level of understanding of the reader.

C4: Yes, he was a mystic. When he said "I am the way," he was speaking outside of ego, as Chan masters or other enlightened people do. I interpret his meaning to be 'being like me is the way,' not, as Christians see it, that he is the intermediary between us and God. I think in the Gospel of Thomas Christ being a mystic is particularly evident.

Visual-Voice: Yes, I think that the New Testament is an upgrade over the Old Testament. Seeing this, and focusing on Jesus instead of marketer-to-the-gentiles Paul, it makes things both simpler and more understandable.

Kyle R Lovett said...

Tom - Good post, it is rather thought provoking topic. I have a slightly different interpritation that might or might not be correct.

I think I'll expand on it in a post, but the basic idea is Christ's realization that humans would continuie to sin(i.e. attachment, desire and aversion) which would harm themselves. He had a difficult time trying to bridge the gap between the laws the Jews created to avoid this sin and living a peaceful life. He found an answer in 'belief'.

Maybe this is confusing, the story I think points to the notion no matter how hard most people try they will create suffering in there lives and the lives of others, then followed by regret and shame. He realized, if he was indeed a historical figure that if someone believes that they will be forgiven for there 'sins' that they could somehow find happiness and peace here in this life.

I probably should make a post to clarify on this point. Belief is a powerful thing.

Thanks Tom!

Tom said...

At the mission where I "live," the urgency to believe is primary, if not everything, in what gets preached.

I think you may be on to something, Kyle. What you describe is Pascal's Wager: Go for what will maximize happiness! This works for people who trust authority.

Me, though, I'm skeptical, by nature, and must believe what seems to me is most likely to be true.

Kyle R Lovett said...

Tom - I completely agree, belief is for those who want to be told what to think and do. I think most of us have rejected that and choose the more difficult path. :-)

Tom said...

Ha, ha. I don't think we choose the most difficult path, we're just stuck with it as the one that's most true!

Anders Branderud said...

Hey Tom,
Our perfectly-orderly universe can be explained ex nihilo without a Prime Cause. Being logically consistent (orderly), the universe must mirror its Prime Cause / Singularity-Creator—Who must be Perfectly Orderly; i.e. Perfect. Therefore, no intelligent person can ignore that our purpose and challenge in life is learning how we, as imperfect humans, may successfully relate to a Perfect Singularity-Creator without our co-mingling, which transcends the timespace of this dimensional physical universe, becoming an imperfection to the Perfect Singularity-Creator.

The three following paragraphs I will use in my reasoning in the third paragraph:
An orderly—"not capricious," as Einstein put it—Creator (also implying Just), therefore, necessarily had an Intelligent Purpose in creating this universe and us within it and, being Just and Orderly, necessarily placed an explanation, a "Life's Instruction Manual," within the reach of His subjects—humankind.

It defies the orderliness (logic / mathematics) of both the universe and Perfection of its Creator to assert that humanity was (contrary to His Tor•âh′ , see below) without any means of rapproachment until millennia after the first couple in recorded history as well as millennia after Av•râ•hâm′ ,
Mosh•ëh′ and the Nәviy•im′ .

Therefore, the Creator's "Life's Instruction Manual" has been available to man at least since the beginning of recorded history. The only enduring document of this kind is the Tor•âh′ —which, interestingly, translates to "Instruction" (not "law" as popularly alleged). [Quote from the below Netzarim-website]

No person lives a perfect life and a sacrifice is needed since the perfect Creator cannot co-mingle with imperfect humans. (Read fuller explanation in the “kipur” entry in the glossaries in the website Netzarim) The Creator’s provision is Ribi Yehoshua ha-Mashiakh (the Messiah). I prove in my blog (bloganders) the existence of a non-dimensional Creator independent of time-space.

This implies [together with the above reasoning] that all humans that ever have lived can receive the foregiveness of the Creator when they have done their sincerest to practise the mitzwot in Torah (when one reads Torah one sees that the Torah was developed since Adam and Khava; even in the beginning of Torah there are instructions).

Anders Branderud

mic'hale said...

Jesus came to fulfill all of the original law (covenant) that we didn't keep...

17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Matthew 5:17-18, NKJV)

Including the following requirement for the remission of sin..

"And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission." (Hebrews 9:22, NKJV)

And now that the old law/covenant was kept, a new one could be instituted... 11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. 16 For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. 17 For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives. 18 Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood. 19 For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you.” 21 Then likewise he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry. 22 And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission. (Hebrews 9:11-22, NKJV)

mic'hale said...

Hope this helps...

Jesus came to fulfill all of the original law (covenant) that we didn't keep...

17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Matthew 5:17-18, NKJV)

Including the following requirement for the remission of sin..

"And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission." (Hebrews 9:22, NKJV)

And now that the old law/covenant was kept, a new one could be instituted... 11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. 16 For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. 17 For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives. 18 Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood. 19 For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you.” 21 Then likewise he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry. 22 And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission. (Hebrews 9:11-22, NKJV)

Mike