Wednesday, March 19, 2008


This morning as I came to the church I decided to listen to Jesus Christ Superstar. Every year I have some crazy traditions that I like to follow. Watching It's A Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street and Charlie Brown Christmas -- during the advent season. Listening to, and if time permits, watching Jesus Christ Superstar during Holy Week (all of them in the original versions by the way).

This morning, as I was working on my sermon, I decided on a new tradition. A couple of years ago, I picked up Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan's book THE LAST WEEK, in which they walk day by day through the last week of Jesus life. It is a powerful book as it helps one to see just what was going on that last week. It is told, not in the typical Max Lucado fashion (I always feel sick from all of his "sweetness") but from the perspective of historically what may have really happened, and why Mark (our oldest Gospel) tells the story the way that he does.

It is my goal to make it my tradition to walk through Holy Week day by day with this challenging book. Right now I am just trying to play catch-up and re-read the whole thing.

On Friday, they ask the question: Did Jesus have to die? Did Jesus die for the sins of the world? They write:
It is important to realize that what killed Jesus was nothing unusual. We have no reason to think that the temple authorities were wicked people. Moreover, as empires go, Rome was better than most. There was nothing exceptional or abnormal about it; that is simply the way domination systems behave. So common is this dynamic that, as we suggested earlier in this book, it can also be called the normalcy of civilization. At a broad level of generalization, Good Friday was the result of the collision between the passion of Jesus and the normalcy of civilization. . . . According to Mark, Jesus did not die for the sins of the world. The language of substitutionary sacrifice for sin is absent from his story. But in an important sense, he was killed because of the sin of the world. It was the injustice of domination systems that killed him, injustice so routine that it is part of the normalcy of civilization.
As we continue this Holy Week journey to the cross and ultimately the empty tomb --- we need to ask ourselves WHY. Why did Jesus die, and what does his resurrection require of me!

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