I hate to be judgey, but I still catch myself rolling my eyes when people talk about Jesus whilst throwing in the blood and nails and as much graphic carnage as humanly possible (apparently as an attempt to make me feel bad about what happened to Jesus).
I could never buy the story that says Jesus had to die for us in order for God to stop being angry at us. That being said, I’m growing more endeared to the gory symbols of blood and nails and dirt and bone, etc.
Why? Well, here’s a quickie from brother Martin Luther…
He has redeemed me, a lost and condemned human being. He has purchased and freed me from all sins, from death, and from the devil, not with gold or silver but with his holy, precious blood and with his innocent suffering and death.
— Martin Luther
(I just love that.)
Here’s what that messy bloodiness means to me…
When I see someone like Joel Osteen up there trying to tell me of a God who redeems through cash and prizes (‘gold and silver’ as ML put it), I call the biggest bullshit I can call on that slick-haired dude.
Jesus willingly went to the cross. And he suffered. Like, really suffered. He suffered so much that he — the human image of what a God-filled life looks like — doubted God in his final human moments. We can’t skip that part.
Before we talk about any kind of resurrection, we have to take note of the death part. It was real. His blood was poured out, not so we could feel guilty about what we did, but quite the opposite. We are redeemed through that act. If I could put into my own words the statement he may have been trying to make, I see it as symbolically saying, I’d rather die than keep up the guilt-tripping business that the powers-that-be are into.
If he would’ve tried to blame, escape or fight his captors, he’d be playing their game. If he’d have built an army and erected a fortress on a hill somewhere, sure, he may have grown powerful in the earthly sense, but instead, he demonstrated God’s redemption through saying, ya know what, I’m more alive when this body is dead than if this body were to do what the power structures of today do. All is forgiven. They know not what they do.
And so he redeemed himself and all of us watching through his blood. And nails. And dirt. And bone. All imagined sin, washed away.
The crucifixion was a God-driven decision that sent ripples throughout time and space forever shifting human consciousness in relation to the divine.
I don’t know about you, but this at least makes me stop and reflect on how I respond to the world.
And for that, I guess I can put up with a little bit of gore.