Thursday, January 28, 2010

Reading Paul with Michael Gorman 7

Even Death on a Cross

The cross stands as the center of Christian existence; it is the source and shape of the life of the Christian. In the first century, however, it was a sign of Rome's power. It was an incredibly strange thing to claim that the Messiah was crucified.

The cross of Christ was the work of God to reconcile the world to himself. In his love he to the initiative to win the world back. The symbol that stood for the might of Caesar would now stand for the the love of God. The cross reveals the covenant faithfulness of God and his way of dealing with sin and human rebellion.

The cross is God's act of self-giving and reveals that God works through the weak and foolish things in the world. It is the power and wisdom of God that redeems the world; Christ crucified is at the heart of the gospel.

Christ was the sacrifice for sin. "Christ died for us/for our sins/for the ungodly/for all/for me." Love for God and love for others were the covenant obligations for the people of God. The cross was Christ's own self emptying act of faithfulness to God and love for us. Through faith and baptism we participate in the death of Christ by co-crucifixion and are justified.

The cross says something about our human condition. God expects all people to love him and others yet we are marked by idolatry, immorality and injustice. This is true of both Jew and Gentile. All people are enslaved to Sin (with a capital "S"). As a result, we cannot do what is right and do not have the ability to cure ourselves. The consequences of this condition are present spiritual death and future physical death. This present age is dominated by Sin and sins.

The solution we need involves liberation and forgiveness; the cross answers both of these problems. "Christ became poor so that we might become rich." We benefit from the death of Christ by participating in it.

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