Thursday, April 2, 2015

What Happened Through the Cross Was for Us, not for God!

The cross is so powerful..I feel I am seeing its meaning in new ways and uncovering layers of truth not fully experienced before.  This article is so great and I want to ponder the thoughts written here more and more.  Just wanted to share this article with you all:  


Jesus Died for Us ... Not for God - Brian Zahnd

“You killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead.” –The Apostle Peter, Acts 3:15

Golgotha is where the great crimes of humanity — pride, rivalry, blame, violence, domination, war, and empire — are dragged into the searing light of divine judgment [this word threw me off a bit - I think I would have said that humanity's ways were put in the light of divine truth, juxtaposed against the truth of Love and thus shown to be terrible and not God-like at all..this makes me realize that it isn't accurate to see the cross as God's violence, blame, domination and war against His Son or us!  WE were the violent ones who killed the beloved one of the Father...] At Golgotha we see the system of human organization that we blithely call “civilization” for what it is: an axis of power enforced by violence so corrupt that it is capable of murdering God in the name of what we call truth, justice, and liberty.

Golgotha is also the place where the love of God achieves its greatest expression. As Jesus is lynched in the name of religious truth and imperial justice he expresses the heart of God as he pleads for the pardon of his executioners. At the cross we discover that the God revealed in Christ would rather die in the name of love than kill in the name of freedom. Our savior is Jesus Christ, not William Wallace.

The cross is both hideous and glorious, simultaneously ugly and beautiful. It’s as hideous as human sin and as glorious as divine love. It is a collision of sin and grace. But it is not a contest of equals. In the end love and beauty win. We call it Easter.

What the cross is not is a quid pro quo where God agrees to forgive upon receipt of his Son’s murder. What the cross is not is an economic transaction whereby God gains the capital to forgive. These legal and fiscal models for understanding the cross simply will not do.

Jesus does not save us from God, Jesus reveals God as savior. What is revealed on Good Friday is not a monstrous deity requiring a virgin to be thrown into a volcano or a firstborn son to be nailed to a tree. What is revealed on Good Friday is the depths of human depravity and the greater depths of God’s love.

Before the cross is anything else, it is a catastrophe. It is the unjust and violent lynching of an innocent man. It is the murder of God. Jesus is sacrificed by the Father only in this sense: The Father sent his Son into our system of violent power (civilization) to reveal how utterly sinful it is — so sinful that it will murder the Innocent One. God did not will the murder of his Son, he simply knew it would occur. But even Plato knew that. In imagining what would happen to a perfectly just man in our unjust world, Plato said, “our just man will be scourged, racked, fettered…and at last, after all manner of suffering, will be crucified.” (The Republic, Book II, p. 37) Plato wrote that three centuries before Christ. God knew what Plato knew. For Jesus to proclaim and inaugurate the kingdom of God in the midst of our unjust and violent world would require a supreme sacrifice.

The death of Jesus was a sacrifice. But it was a sacrifice to end sacrificing, not a sacrifice to appease an angry god. It was not God who required the sacrifice of Jesus, it was human civilization. A system built upon violent power cannot tolerate the presence of one who owes it nothing. The sacrifice of Jesus was necessary to convince us to quit producing sacrificial victims; it was not necessary to convince God to forgive. When Jesus prays for forgiveness on the cross he was not acting contrary to the nature of God, he was revealing the nature of God as forgiving love.

Think of it this way: Where do we find God on Good Friday? Is God found in Caiaphas seeking a sacrificial scapegoat? Is God found in Pilate requiring a punitive execution? Or is God found in Jesus, absorbing sin and responding with forgiveness?

The Apostle Paul says God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. (2 Corinthians 5:19) And this should not be misread as God reconciling himself to the world…as some mistaken atonement theories do! Jesus died for us…not for God.

The crucifixion is not what God inflicts upon Jesus in order to forgive, the crucifixion is what God in Christ endures as he forgives. The cross is where God absorbs sin and recycles it into forgiveness.

The crucifixion is not the ultimate attempt to change God’s mind about us — the cross is the ultimate attempt to change our mind about God. God is not like Caiaphas seeking a sacrifice. God is not like Pilate requiring an execution. God is like Jesus, absorbing sin and forgiving sinners.

The cross is not about payment, the cross is about forgiveness.

Good Friday is not about divine wrath, Good Friday is about divine love.

Calvary is not where we see how just God is, Calvary is where we see how unjust civilization is.

As long as we think Jesus died for God instead of dying for us, we will never see the sinfulness of human civilization and the beauty of the divine alternative: the kingdom of God.

The justice of God is not retributive justice. In the end retributive justice changes nothing. The justice of God is entirely restorative. The only thing God will call justice is setting the world right, not punishing the innocent. (Our sense of retributive justice is derived from the fact that we are more punished by our sins than for our sins.)
[These thoughts are so powerful to me..the Father wasn't the ogre demanding a sacrifice in order to appease His anger..He was forgiveness and love the whole time..He was the one taking the worst thing that ever happened - that we would kill God! - and turning it into the best thing ever - God calling us all innocent and ending the strife inside us once and for all - the need to sacrifice, the anxiety that we must 'do' something to get His love - for we see at the cross that we ALREADY had His love and have had it all along, can't lose it!  We know now His love and grace and acceptance are ours forever because they remained even when we did the worst thing we could possibly do by killing His Son..if He loved us, claimed us, embraced us even THEN, He loves, claims us, embraces us forever!]

The bottom line is this: God did not kill Jesus, human civilization did. We did. Jesus absorbed the blow in love and forgave us. The Father vindicated his Son on Easter. Now Jesus calls us to follow him into the kingdom of grace, the kingdom of love, the kingdom of God.

Let us follow the Lamb.


(The artwork is Golgotha by Edvard Munch, 1900.)

The post Jesus Died for Us…Not for God appeared first on Brian Zahnd.
Wow!  The cross wasn't ever about a 'payment' for sin, was it?  It was always about God showing us, in such extreme love and grace, that a payment was never needed!  Real Love never makes people 'pay!'  
The cross is not another chapter in the book of religion but is the end of religion, God slamming the book shut forever!  
God didn't need the cross to be 'okay' with us..we needed it to be 'okay' with ourselves and finally see that we really are worthy to be loved, valued beyond imagination..
Wow, we really are 'to die for,' aren't we?  
We really are His very own beloved children in whom He is well pleased!  How could any good father say anything less than this about His own dear children!  
What a relief to know that the cross wasn't something God demanded and did so He could put a judgmental, wrathful spotlight on our sin but was something we did (in confusion and pain, not seeing we were loved) that was turned around and used by God to put a bright heavenly spotlight on LOVE!  
What a Love!  This is a love beyond anything we could ever dream, a love that is strong enough to truly banish every fear and heal every hurt in the human heart!

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May the amazing grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, and the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. 2 Co. 13:14