Brian’s Reflection: Friday, April 2, 2010
[ Good Friday in the Christian Kalendar ]
The essence of that by which Jesus overcame the world was not suffering, but obedience.
Yes, men may puzzle themselves and their hearers over the question where the power of
the life of Jesus and the death of Jesus lay; but the soul of the Christian always knows that
it lay in the obedience of Christ. He was determined at every sacrifice to do His Father's will.
Let us remember that; and the power of Christ's sacrifice may enter into us, and some little
share of the redemption of the world may come through us, as the great work came through Him.
Phillips Brooks, Episcopal bishop of Massachusetts, born 1835
“Obedience” has a "bad rap” in modern usage. It smacks of a lack of self-respect, of a negative form of servitude, of unwillingness. In the best of Christian theology, however, Obedience is a very positive virtue. It means a willing response in love, in response to Love. It means having discovered Wisdom, Grace, Compassion, and having been freed to respond in the same context.
Look. Yes Jesus suffered. But the suffering is not at the core of the meaning of Jesus. In my opinion, there has been no more (to use an “old” term) blasphemous event in the last many decades concerning Jesus and the Gospel that Mel Gibson’s film “The Passion of the Christ”. It profoundly distorted the Gospel – in support of a false understanding of the Passion that has been promulgated by the Roman Catholic and many reformation churches for centuries.
Jesus’ suffering on the cross does not define His work, His gift. His suffering did nothing to liberate humankind. What liberated humankind was His Love. His love for God. His love for humanity. His love for fragile Us. His love for the World. Yes Jesus suffered – as we all do, some of us as hideously as He is portrayed to have suffered, racked with the misery of chemo or Alzheimer’s or the assaults of aging, by the insults of society on the aged, by the indifference of government. Believe me, I have seen many human beings suffer the agony of the Cross as they approach the end of their earthly life!
What defines Jesus is Love. He ended upon a Cross because he chose to love. Love everything. Everyone. Because He knew that this is what His heavenly Father did. And His ultimate determination was to emulate that Deity.
To love is to be Obedient. In Obedience is the ultimate path to Freedom – obedience to Unconditional Love Itself.
“You shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall set you free.”
Obedience to Love is Truth.
This is the meaning of the Cross.