The true picture of Jesus
Rev. Eric Nelson, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Lester Prairie
This is not the way it should be for the Son of God. He should not be found on a cross, between two criminals.
Therefore, those who passed by stated that if he is the Son of God, he should come down. In the same way, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders said that God should rescue him if he is his Son.
There is confusion concerning the purpose and nature of Jesus of Nazareth. Much of the confusion results from trying to have Jesus our own way, on our own terms. Those who passed by his cross, for example, could not imagine God’s Messiah suffering on a cross. A cross wasn’t a proper place to find the Son of God.
There are other ways in which we try to get a hold of Jesus. Those with a more socialist view will see Jesus as an advocate for the poor and needy. As a result, he becomes the champion for increased programs, taxes, and regulations. Those on the right, on the other hand, have portrayed Jesus as an advisor who helps us achieve wealth and success in the capitalist system.
Academics have also let their ideologies and philosophies have their way with Jesus. Nearly a century ago, the existentialists molded Jesus into their image. An encounter with Jesus would lead to an alteration into a new and better human existence.
In the prior century, those who held to pietistic and romantic notions also believed that they found a kindred spirit in Jesus. During this time, feelings were elevated over dogma. Jesus, therefore, showed us how to deepen our inner experience with God
A century earlier witnessed the reign of reason. As a result, the miracles and signs Jesus performed were disregarded. For those of the Enlightenment, Jesus was a teacher of proper conduct and morals.
Lent stands as a major correction and presents us with the true picture of Jesus. The season of Lent achieves this by leading us to Calvary.
At Calvary, Jesus reveals his true nature and purpose. Calvary reveals that he did not come only to help the poor and needy. He did not come merely to instruct us on moral renovation. He came to suffer and die. This is what it would it take to be our Savior it would take a cross.
This is what our Lord has done for you. He willingly gave up his perfect life for you in order to be an atoning sacrifice.
This means that he faced God’s judgment for you. He endured the death and hell of your sins. Because he accomplished all that needed to be done to make you right with God, he rose again.
Therefore, the cross reveals Jesus to us. It reveals his great love, mercy, and humility. It reveals that he was willing to endure such pain, humiliation, agony and death just for you.
This is what it would take to be your Savior. The cross may not be the way we would have the Son of God; but it is the way He would have us.