The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
March 28, 2021 – Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord - Mark 14:1-15:47
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Very rarely do we find similar accounts of any event in all four gospels. The birth of Jesus is found in only two gospels. The parable of the Good Samaritan in only one. But all four gospels record the passion and death of Jesus. Biblical scholars suggest that this aspect of the life of Christ was the first to be remembered by the first Christians. Its importance could not be forgotten.
While we have a commonly agreed upon narrative, there is little discussion of why Jesus suffered and died the way he did. Why did God’s son, the beloved one, the man who went everywhere doing good, end up being condemned, tortured and crucified, a terrible kind of death by all accounts?
So, we are left to figure out for ourselves why Jesus died the way he did. Various theories have been suggested over the years. As scholars and theologians learn more about the historical conditions that prevailed around the time of Jesus, clearer explanations have come forth. Here are a few.
First, we may never know the full story. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus is set in the deep mystery of God’s love for us. So, we will never get to the bottom of that great mystery. Therefore, be cautious of those who claim they know exactly why Jesus died as he did.
Next, most agree that Jesus lived in a very tense political climate. Roman occupation and rule over Israel were despised by the Jews. And around 30 AD there were various attempts (always unsuccessful) to rid the land of the Romans. Jesus was viewed by the Romans as a potential revolutionary. When the opportunity came, they took measures to get rid of him. He met the fate of hundreds of other Jews. Crucifixion (because of its public nature) was a favored method of execution by the Romans.
On a deeper level, Jesus lived and experienced the fullness of human life. That included rejection, condemnation, pain and suffering. And a horrendous death. As Scripture notes, he was like us in all things, except sin.
Finally, he wanted us to know that he gave all “for us and our salvation.” His love for us, for all of us, was limitless. In life and in death, he showed us how much he loved us.
©David M. Thomas, PhD