The provocative title for this article in the series only makes sense if Jesus is, as St. Paul wrote, ‘the visible image of the invisible God.’ Many people stumble of the notion of God being both one and three, but ask any of them if they can let you have a copy of a piece of software with a few hundred million lines of code, they will hand you a flash drive without any puzzlement at all. The fact that the code in one instance is in the cloud, in another instance is in a disk-drive and in another instance is on their mobile is of absolutely no concern, but the idea that God is not allowed to do that is frankly illogical. God is spirit – that is information or mind, not material, and we humans are also minds, but packaged in a biological body.
The astonishing thing about The Crucifixion is not that a man was crucified. Millions have been crucified. The astonishing thing is that Jesus, the man who, as He Himself stated, was one with the Father, this Jesus was crucified. God stepped into human form and ‘took the form of a servant and was obedient unto death, even death on a cross’.
‘Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’ And they slapped him in the face.
Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, ‘Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.’ When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, ‘Here is the man!’
As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, ‘Crucify! Crucify!’
But Pilate answered, ‘You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.’
The Jewish leaders insisted, ‘We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.’
When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, and he went back inside the palace. ‘Where do you come from?’ he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. ‘Do you refuse to speak to me?’ Pilate said. ‘Don’t you realise I have power either to free you or to crucify you?’
Jesus answered, ‘You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore, the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.’
From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, ‘If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.’
When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon.
‘Here is your king,’ Pilate said to the Jews.
But they shouted, ‘Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!’
‘Shall I crucify your king?’ Pilate asked.
‘We have no king but Caesar,’ the chief priests answered.
Finally, Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.
So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). There they crucified him, and with him two others – one on each side and Jesus in the middle.
Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the jews. Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, ‘Do not write “The King of the Jews”, but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.’
Pilate answered, ‘What I have written, I have written.’
When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.
‘Let’s not tear it,’ they said to one another. ‘Let’s decide by lot who will get it.’
This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said,
‘They divided my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.’
So this is what the soldiers did. Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty.’ A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: ‘Not one of his bones will be broken,’ and, as another scripture says, ‘They will look on the one they have pierced.’ [John 19:1-27]
Until the point the God who had made Creation was in many ways a mystery to it. The sentient beings within that Creation, who generation after generation could look out on that Creation, wondered:
- Was there a God?
- Was there one or many?
- Did God care about His Creation?
- How much did He care?
- How much does He care for humanity?
- How much does he care for me?
As He breathed His last, in this moment, all the mysteries were revealed: for any who would care to look:
- Was there a God? YES
- Was there one or many? ONE
- Did God care about His Creation? YES
- How much did He care? MORE THAN LIFE ITSELF
- How much does He care for humanity? MORE THAN LIFE ITSELF
- How much does he care for me? MORE THAN LIFE ITSELF
But the other mystery, the mystery of our own existence, still is yet to be revealed:
- Do I really exist, in a way that has any significance?
- Do I have integrity, or do I just play the parts expected of me?
- Do I care do I care?
- Do I care about others, really?
- Do I care for God in the way He cares?
God bless you all.
President – Jesus Christ for Muslims