How do you understand the Cross and Jesus’ crucifixion? I’ve always had trouble with the belief that God had to kill his own Son in order for God to accept me.
Now we’re getting to the heart of what became the message of the religion of Christianity.
To begin with, we need to briefly put the crucifixion of Jesus in historical context. For centuries before the birth of Jesus, humans sacrificed animals to the gods. The belief was the gods were angry over human behavior and something needed to be sacrificed to them in order to satisfy their anger. Jesus’ people did this long before Jesus was born. You can read all about it in the Old Testament of the Bible. The sacrifices of animals were done primarily in the Temple in Jerusalem.
So when Jesus was crucified, his death was interpreted in the only light or truth they knew. A sacrifice to God for the sins of everyone. He was seen as “the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” John 1:29
The accepted belief was that he died for the forgiveness of sins. One catch though! You had to believe precisely that for your own sins to be forgiven, and to get into heaven when you die.
1. Jesus’ death by crucifixion was far from unique. Thousands upon thousands of people were crucified not only by the Roman Empire, but by other earthly powers before them. The Romans just perfected the “art” of crucifixion to make it even more horrendous. In fact, right around the time of the birth of Jesus, the Roman General Verus crucified 2,000 Jews at the nearby town of Sephoras for suspicion of rebellion against Rome.
2. Much more importantly, think about what that says about God! What kind of sick, unloving, pathetic, self-absorbed, vindictive, small, and weak being would this “god” have to be to require witnessing Jesus suffering a painful death in order to forgive? You and I on our worst day wouldn’t desire such a horrible thing!!
And Christianity traditionally says this kind of God “loves” you!? How could you either trust or love a being such as this? I cannot love or trust a being who can and will only love, forgive, and accept me because Jesus suffered and died! What kind of relationship is that?
You’d have to be looking over your back all the time for such a god! How would you know when that kind of being might turn on you if you did something bad enough?
3. People believe that Jesus died for their sins tend not to believe in reincarnation. OK, going along with that for a moment, what about all the people who lived their one life before Jesus lived on earth? Are they all out of luck due to poor timing? What about all the people of other religions or of no religion?
How would you measure such a belief? What if you sort of believed that but not completely? What if you died at a time when you used to believe that but no longer believe it? What if you were a little Jewish or Muslim girl growing up in your Jewish or Muslim family and culture? You observed Judaism or Islam because you either loved it, went along with it, or simply loved your parents and wanted to please them? What if you were never told about Jesus dying for your sins? Would this God of “love” condemn you for that?
Or, as a pastor, my personal favorite: what if your pastor growing up was really boring?! Or was a terrible speaker or communicator? What if you just couldn’t get into what he or she was droning on and on about Sunday after Sunday? It just wasn’t interesting in the least to you. Then you cross over to the other side and take the “Did you believe the right things about Jesus?” test. And you say, “In my defense, just let me say my pastor was so boring! It’s not my fault. Did you ever hear him?”
On and on the questions could go, and so falls the house of cards.
Humans have a long history of creating God in their own image. We try and understand God through the lens of the experience of our own ego. Our fearful ego wants someone to pay for treating us in a harmful way, so we believe God must exist in the same vindictive way.
I would suggest here the channeling books of Jesus by Gina Lake. In particular, “What Jesus Wants You To Know Today About: Christianity, God, Himself, the World, and Being Human.”
I would also suggest a fascinating autobiography of Jesus telling his entire earthly life story as channeled by Tina Louise Spalding called “Jesus: My Autobiography.”
One final word: Christians are famous for making the sign of the Cross, beginning with the forehead and then across the chest. You’ve seen this happening I’m sure. Given the inherent Oneness of all things, wouldn’t it be better to make the sign of the Circle on the forehead and around the heart?
Always remember you are Love because your Source, from which you came, is Love. I welcome your comments and questions.