As We Follow Jesus to the Cross
Death of Jesus: Traditional Theology
Today is Palm Sunday/ Passion Sunday, starting the Holy Week. Through our exceptionally long scripture reading, we followed Jesus to his cross.
Those of us who grew up in the church learned that Jesus died for our sins, which fits the ancient Jewish concept of scarifying a lamb without any blemish for atonement. This is one theological interpretation of the death of Jesus that became the main Christian idea.
Although this theology humbles us with the idea that everyone is a sinner and comforts us by the grace of God that didn’t spare God’s only Son to save us from sin, not everyone is comforted and empowered by it. Since we are already familiar with the traditional theology that Jesus died for our sins, today, I will focus on an alternative interpretation for the death of Jesus.
This theology views Jesus as human, as opposed to the traditional one that focuses on his divinity.
The gospel story is about a man who lived and died by his conviction that God’s ideal society that he called God’s kingdom (or reign) is based on the principles of equality and justice.
He fought the injustice of his society through preaching God’s Word and healing the suffering. In this subversive story, even healing of the sick is not only about the physical ailments; it’s about healing the marginalized people’s spirits from their social suffering.
Why Did Jesus Die?
As a reflection for Passion Sunday, let us answer the question, “Why did Jesus die? The traditional theology says, “to save us from sin.”
In the alternative theology that I am presenting today, he died because he made the people in power angry with his subversive ministry in which he rebuked those in power and uplifted the marginalized. From the place of power, poor people being empowered is a threat. He was killed because he refused to compromise his beliefs about God’s reign and fiercely defended the marginalized.
Jesus Our Role Model
When we reflect on the passion of Jesus through this lens, we meet a man who dedicated all his life defending and serving the marginalized members of his society and lived by such an unwavering and uncompromising conviction that he ended up dying for it.
THIS is what we learned from Jesus: we are beautifully made. We are precious in God’s eyes. We are worthy of God’s love and each other’s respect. With this knowledge and conviction, let us follow Jesus by spreading this message to the marginalized members of our society.
Today and during this Holy Week, let us be inspired by his life and death full of love and commit to fighting for social justice. Praise be to God, for Jesus lived and died teaching God’s unconditional and indiscriminatory love.