The Crucifixion story is rich with symbolism and is a mystery. At the centre of this mystery is the question of why Christ needs to die when Jesus tells us that God is always ready to forgive us whenever we ask:
Matthew 7:9-11New International Version (NIV)
9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
The words of Jesus are full of truth and insight but the story told about his person is full of contradictions. This does not mean we have to reject the story, it becomes a question of how we use it. At one level it can be seen as presenting God as cruel and unforgiving or trapped by a cruel law which demands the death penalty for imperfections and Jesus dying on our behalf. But we don’t see God as cruel or powerless so we must see the story not as a literal truth but as pointing to a truth. For me the crucifixion symbolises God participating in our suffering. Not standing above us but with us and in us, this is what the Christ means, God and Man standing together, as one. God not taking the Cup of suffering away but sharing it with us and making our suffering a sacrament.
Often when I see stuff about Jesus on Facebook I respond. Jesus was an enlightened teacher and I am fascinated by the pithy style of his teaching though not agreeing with what is taught about his personal divinity.. The religious of his time (and ours) were big on judging and condemning and short on forgiving. Jesus pointed out that everyone sinned you don’t have to be a murdered if you are angry, call your brother ‘fool’ that is on the same continuum of sin. This is what Jesus meant when he said “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” He was not concerned with what people did so much as with the intent and we all have ill or evil intents so don’t bother judging one as worse than another just stop judging and start forgiving because judging makes you both guilty under the fulfilled or complete law while forgiveness restores innocence to both you and the other. Forgiveness, interestingly, completes not only the Mosaic law but also the law of karma that we reap what we sow, since sowing forgiveness reaps the same.
Worth noting too that if you don’t judge you can’t condemn and if you don’t condemn then you have nothing to forgive anyone for. This gives you a purity or innocence. Of course none of us actually has this but this is the path.
Lao Tsu says:
The highest virtue is to act without a sense of self
The highest kindness is to give without a condition
The highest justice is to see without a preference
When Tao is lost one must learn the rules of virtue
When virtue is lost, the rules of kindness
When kindness is lost, the rules of justice
When justice is lost, the rules of conduct
Same as Jesus, underlying written rules or laws is the principle of justice, underlying this is kindness, underlying this is your virtue or sense of decency or rightness and underlying this is the Way, the Tao, submission to the will of God or Heaven ‘without a preference’, without requiring anything to be other than it is. And this too is forgiveness, when we not only forgive others for being what they are but forgive God and the whole of existence and love everything just as it is, unconditionally.