Saturday, April 17, 2010

Take up your cross and follow me...

For modern Christians the idea of taking up one's cross is synonymous with Christ's passion and a willingness to suffer in the name of God. But is this what the phrase meant in the context of Jesus' culture? According to Berg and Crossman, no.

Crucifixion was a punishment reserved by Romans for enemies of the state. "Only the empire crucified, and then only for one crime: denial of imperial authority." (The Last Week, p 29)So, if this is the case then Jesus wasn't calling people to suffer in his name as this verse is so often interpreted. He was calling people to stand up against their Roman oppressors and acknowledge that true authority belonged to God alone.

Again, the context changes so much of the meaning of the gospels. It seemed divine that Jesus would know he would be crucified before it happened; but was it divine insight or simply a realistic prediction to the outcome of his plans? If in fact the entrance into Jerusalem was a planned demonstration and Jesus knew of the Roman practice of crucifying political dissenters then he had to know the risk he was taking.

This also changes what it means to be a Christian, or follower of Christ. I had long believed that Jesus did not involve himself in political matters and instead chose to do things in spite of the political climate- as is evidenced in his statement to render unto Caesar. However now I'm seeing another possibility of what his goals were and why he died. I must admit that I'm drawn to this new possibility. But, more answers generally bring more questions so, I'm still seeking.

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