Friday, March 29, 2013

Jesus on the Cross

They were putting Jesus on the cross about now. His cry six hours later when he died shows that the cross was a time of anguish for him in his humanity.

Some like to picture Jesus as calm, cool, and collected on the cross.  John's presentation leans in that direction, with Jesus giving instructions about his mother to the beloved disciple from the cross. But each gospel has its special features, and one of John's is a minimizing of Jesus' human struggle.

In Mark, Jesus asks for this cup to pass (14:36). In John, Jesus dismisses the very idea (12:27). John gives us Jesus in hindsight, the spiritual understanding of Jesus. In Mark we get a little more literal picture.

So I believe the cross was a time of anguish. John does not give us the cry, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me" but the confident, "It is finished."  Mark gives us the pain of the moment, the intense suffering.

Jesus is so in anguish that he dies hours before a crucified person normally would have. The physical struggle was not the worst possible death, but his anguish was spectacular. There's no evidence that God turned away because of him taking on our sin--that's just a fun story driven by a particular theology.

I fully believe God the Father was there with him on the cross.  But I also suspect that Jesus himself wasn't feeling it at the time.

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