Signs of a Delusional Mind
These are the chronicles of the esoteric . . .
good friday/easter reflections on context
Please note, this is the first post of a series.
Good Friday/Easter is both the most important Event in Christianity and, I think, the most misunderstood. While Christmas is overshadowed by secular traditions, Good Friday/Easter is bloated with centuries of miscalculated and misinterpreted theologies.
The framework within which we can properly make sense of Good Friday/Easter has largely been pushed aside and lost by Classic Theism. Classic Theism/Evangelicalism argues that Jesus' death was for each individual person in the entire world and for their individual personal sins. But this dismisses the fact that Jesus' death was a part of Israel's story.
The gospels all place the crucifixion at Passover and this is not insignificant. We're often taught—when the Passover is even mentioned in atonement theories—that Jesus is the sacrificial lamb that died in our place. But this actually gets the theology of Passover wrong.
In Jewish theology, the paschal lamb is not sacrificed as a replacement for the firstborns that would fall victim of the 10th plague in Egypt—Jewish Passover theology did not subscribe to substitionary sacrifice. Instead, the blood of the lamb was a sign, a symbol of Israel's trust in God.1
It was an act of trust to take the blood and paint their doorways with it—trust that God would actually free them from the hands of Egypt. As a result of that trust they were spared from the plague of death. The lamb then was eaten as a symbollic meal of community: it was a meal of belonging, of intimate fellowship that was for the Israelites alone. It was a meal of communal trust in the God who was about to deliver them.
The story of Exodus is about an oppressed people liberated by divine intervention. The connection between the crucifixion and Passover is not about substitionary atonement but about liberation and about the creation of a new community.
But what about our sins?
The doctrine of 'personal salvation' puts the individual at the centre of our theology and places the emphasis on our 'eternal destination.' But this doctrine arises from a universalisation of texts such as Isaiah's 'Suffering Servant' passage2 which says the inflicted will be punished for our transgessions. Or, more directly, Matthew 1:21 which declares that the baby Mary will bear 'will save his people from their sins.'
And who is Jesus' people? The same people for whose transgessions he will suffer—Israel.
Jesus bore the repercussions of rebellious Israel's transgressions—he was punished on behalf of the people under the covenant made with God for failing to uphold their side of that covenantal relationship. This is made the most apparent in Mark 15 where Jesus takes the place of an Israelite insurrectionist.3
This is not a new pattern for the narrative of God's People. Israel periodically faced divine punishment through their defeat at the hands of foreign powers, ultimately leading to exile by the Babylonians and the destruction of the first temple. This was the consequence written into the covenant when it was established and reaffirmed along the way.
However, something new did happen here in Jesus. ✤
1. Exodus 12:13.
2. Isaiah 53.
3. Andrew Perriman, 'In the likeness of sinful flesh: some reflections for Holy Week,' P.OST.