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When you look at the cross of Jesus, what is it that comes to mind about God? Do you see Jesus rescuing us from the wrath of God so that God’s anger about sin falls on Jesus instead of us? Or do you see God and Jesus working together, with one mind and one purpose, not to rescue us form God’s wrath, but rather to rescue us from the destruction caused by sin?
For many Christians, when we think of what the cross reveals about God, we think of an angry God who is up in the heavens who hates sin so much, He just has to pour our His wrath on somebody. But since He also loves humans, God chose to punish His Son, Jesus, for our sins instead of us.
Now, we’re thankful for this exchange, if that is the way it really happened, but at the same time, this view makes us sort of afraid of God. We just know that at any moment, His anger and wrath might lash out at us again. We also wonder what kind of God He really is if He is willing to brutally torture His own Son for sins committed by someone else. It makes us wonder if God can really be trusted.
I have been writing a lot about this on my blog over the past two years, and just this past week I listened to a series of talks given by Wayne Jacobsen over ten years ago where he addressed some of these very same issues.
His series of talks is called “Transitions” and there is a link below for where you can download them all for free. There are eight talks he gives in this series, and the one I am sharing with you here in the fourth. So I’m dropping you right into the middle. This is probably not the best way to be introduced to what he is saying, and so if you have questions or concerns about what he says, I recommend you go listen to the other seven talks as well.
After you listen to what Wayne says, I would love to get some feedback from you.
Is it helpful to think of the cross of Jesus as the cure for our sin rather than the punishment for it?
Is it helpful to see that the only reason God is really concerned with our sin is because it hurts us, and since He loves us, He doesn’t like to see us get hurt?
Is it helpful to see that God can definitely look upon sin and be around sin, and that your sin does not anger Him or make Him mad at you, or even separate you from Him?
There is a lot to think about from this message by Wayne Jacobsen, and as I said, it is the fourth talk in a series of eight which he has made available on his website for free. I highly recommend you go listen to them all. The link is below.
There is no place to leave a question or comment on his website about this talk, and so if you have a question, feel free to leave one in the comment section below, and I will see if Wayne can respond to you.
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5 responses to “Wayne Jacobsen – The Cross is a Cure, not a Punishment”
The Cross of Christ is half of the Gospel, it is the God’s Transfusion needle painfully piercing The Arm of The Lord, to shed His Life Blood into whosoever will receive, and be Resurrected Into Christ’s Eternal Life! Romans 5:10
I guess I would start out by saying I enjoyed the core message, that the Cross of Christ is not Jesus rescuing us from a malevolent god who hates us but rather the completion of the plan of a loving god who redeems us. However, I have some disagreements. I think that this notion that all religions are evil is not true. I have met plenty of pastors who are not manipulating me and shaming me into following them. I think we should root our beliefs in more than the church we are acquainted with but this is only because we follow Jesus not a pastor. I think what should be spoken about is following Jesus no matter what a pastor says. If a pastor helps you follow Jesus, great! If not then he is failing you as a pastor and something needs to change. I guess what I’m trying to say is that Christianity is a religion and that religion is a relationship with God. Other religions depict us paying our dues to a God whom we have mistreated but our religion depicts us in an intimate and personal relationship with our God who is the essence of love. This does not mean that Christianity is not a religion, I think it means it is a religion it’s just the perfect religion and one which is unique and different on many scales. This is how I see things, just expressing my opinion. I’d love to hear what you think about it, God bless!
Great input, Kevin. Thanks.
Wayne would not say that all pastors are manipulative. Like you, I know many pastors who are very service-minded and want to love and help other people.
As for Christianity, it often also depicts us as trying to pay God His due, and doing certain things to stay within His good graces. Yes, among the world religions, it is best, but sometimes even Christianity falls into the common pitfalls of bad religion.
Thanks for the input!
I see, so what your saying is not that Christianity is bad necessarily but that it has the potential to fall into a bad religion. In this case I agree 100%.
I don’t think “the wrath of God” is so easily swept beneath the rug. I also see a trajectory in the Gospels of having Jesus suffer more in the earliest Gospel and die while maintaining a philosopher’s self-control in later Gospels. Here are two key passages to start with, both earlier than Luke or John:
God made him who had no sin to be sin [or a sin offering] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Cor 5:21
My God, my God why have you forsaken me? Mk and Matt
Those are the earliest statements regarding Jesus’s death. And one must add the agony in the garden preceding Jesus’s death, which also is early being found in GMark, where Jesus is depicted as being “deeply distressed and troubled,” “overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” “he FELL to the ground and prayed” i.e., the same prayer multiple times… talk about feeling “forsaken by God” on the cross later, instead of triumphant:
‘He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”…Once more he went away and prayed the same thing.”
It is only later stories found in Luke and John that have Jesus sounding like he is in complete control over the situation, speaking relatively calmly throughout his ordeal–even sounding like a dying philosopher in Luke, dying like a Christian Socrates. The lack of agony is especially acute by the time we get to the fourth Gospel where Jesus’s prayer in the garden is for unity, with no fear at all as to what was to come. Luke still has the agony in the garden, a story he carried over from Mark. But Luke’s addition that Jesus sweat blood and was ministered to by an angel appears to be a later insertion according to textual critics, and doesn’t agree with the way Jesus in Luke is able to think and speak so clearly and philosophically from the cross. GJohn has no agony in the garden. GJohn even has the soldiers all fall down when Jesus tells them “I am he,” at his arrest.
So I would say the story developed over time, and in the earliest version in Mark it was much nearer to torturous abandonment with the loud cry from the cross startling the Roman centurion in Mark because most people probably died with a whimper after all that whipping and torture. Later Gospels like Luke, turned the cry into a triumphant exclamation.