I am preaching on the crucifixion this weekend at church. This is a challenging thing to do the weekend before Christmas. But, I am really excited about the chance we have to look at the meaning of the cross and, well, the meaning of the whole Christmas story.

In studying for this, I am reading the last two chapters of Eberhard Jungel’s book “Death: The Riddle and the Mystery.” This is the first time I have read Jungel and so far I have found him to be a very helpful and engaging theologian. Here is an excerpt from the text that I found particularly insightful:

We should not imagine that on the cross Jesus died the death of a hero. The self-composure and even serenity with which Socrates met a criminal’s death are absent in the case of the historical Jesus. The fact that his followers fled indicates how difficult it was for them to relate what it was that he willed with the fact of his execution. In the ‘Phaedo’, it is reported by someone who was with Socrates at the time that in his last hour those who were present were affected by a ‘curious’ mood, ‘between laughing and crying’ (57c-59e). How unlike Gethsemane: ‘My soul is sorrowful unto death’ (Mark 14: 34)…

Here is an additional quote…

Sin is aggression against God. This is why it leads to death. As the law demanded, this was the ‘sting’ which gave death its power. In suffering this sting and by enduring the negation directed against him, God robbed death of its power and so revealed himself as God. This God loves man and it is for this reason that he suffers for man. Man’s suffering is finite God, however, is not the kind of God who does not suffer at all. He is the God who has a capacity for infinite suffering, and it is because of his love that he suffers infinitely. This is why he is death’s conqueror This is why the reign of death is subject to the power of
God