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.