At the last session we reflection on who Jesus is.
He is the incarnate, the word made flesh, the crucified and the risen. We say it so easily but it is massively important to understand what that means. Who is this Jesus who rose from the dead? How did he defeat death?
Let’s go back to some of the things Jesus said about himself. The Jesus portrayed in the gospels consistently spoke and acted in the very person of the God. To his disciples he said, “Whoever loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (Matt 10:37) One could easily imagine a spiritual teacher saying that his followers should love God more than the highest goods in this world – but himself.
To the paralysed man, Jesus said, “Child, your sins are forgiven.” (Mark 2:5) Again, we would certainly imagine a spiritual teacher telling people to forgive those who harmed them, but who is the man who can claim to have the right to forgive the sins of someone’s entire life? “Why does this man speak like this? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:7)
Defending his disciples against the charge of picking grain on the Sabbath, Jesus reminds those accusing them that priests serving in the temple can, under certain circumstances, violate the Sabbath and still remain innocent, then he adds with breath-taking simplicity, “I tell you, something greater than the temple is here.” (Matt. 12:6)
The Jerusalem temple was, for the first-century Jews, the dwelling place of Yahweh, the God of Israel, on earth and so the most sacred place imaginable! The only one who could reasonably claim to be “greater” than the temple would be the one who was worshiped in the temple. Who was this man Jesus?
In a number of places in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus states, “You have heard it said… but I say…” This almost casual dismissal of the Torah, the revelation given by Yahweh to Moses himself, would have overwhelmed any first-century Jew. The only one who could legitimately overrule the Torah with such confidence would be the one who was himself the author of the Torah. CS Lewis famously said about Jesus claims that he was either mad or God.
The reason Jesus was put to death was precisely because of his blasphemous identification with the God of Israel. The one over whose cross was placed a sign declaring him “King of the Jews”. He was being presented as a pathetically deluded character. However, the story does not end there, on the cross. After being seemingly defeated by the Empire, hidden and afraid his followers emerge from their hiding place and start to declare that Jesus had been raised from the dead. Why would they say that?
The Christian faith is based on the dramatic but seemingly impossible proposition that Jesus of Nazareth died on a cross and rose from the dead. Were they right? In this session we’re going to be looking at why Jesus died on the cross and what that means for you and me.
Please find the video by clicking on the button below:
Questions to help you reflect
Q: What do you think or feel about the idea of forgiveness? What is it? Have you ever forgiven anyone?
Q: What do you think or feel about the idea of guilt? Have you ever received forgiveness? What do you think it take to receive God’s forgiveness?
Q: What is your reaction to Jesus’ death?
Q: Can you see how the death of Jesus on the cross takes away our sin?
Q: How do you feel about the idea that Jesus had to die a painful death on the cross in order for you and me to be forgiven of our sins?
Q: Do you think that sin is an outdated concept or is it something you can relate to?
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