What is the meaning of the passion? First of all, God wasn't angry. Again: God wasn't angry! Particularly in fundamentalist theology, you'll often hear it said that God got so fed up with the sins and transgressions of Israel that he demanded a human sacrifice in atonement. But of course, this interpretation would turn God into a monster. How can Jesus, who is love, radiate and reflect a God who is primarily a monster? And how can Christians theoretically progressing on a path of love consent to live under such a reign of terror? No, we need to bury once and for all those fear-and-punishment scenarios that got programmed into so many of us during our childhood. There is no monster out there; only love waiting to set us free.
But what about "Jesus died for our sins"? Well, that foundational Christian statement is in fact completely and wholly true. But not individually, in the way you're most likely to hear it – Jesus died because you were bad, Jesus died because you are an alcoholic, or you beat your spouse, or cheated on your income tax. The statement doesn't work on that level. Rather, Jesus died for – meaning "because of" and "on behalf of" – the human condition in its collectivity. He died because of the irreducible reality – that "Planck's Constant" (to borrow a metaphor from contemporary quantum physics) – of constriction and density that comes as part and parcel of this human realm and is the necessary precondition for the full revelation of divine love. To say that he died on behalf of us means that he gave his life to help pull us through these difficult conditions; he implanted himself deeply at ground zero, at the root of the root of all density, in order to insulate us from its sting and empower us to live within our human flesh as he himself had lived.
– Cynthia Bourgeault
The Wisdom Jesus
The Wisdom Jesus
NEXT: Judas and Peter
For more of Cynthia Bourgeault's writings at The Wild Reed, see:
Advent 2011: Thoughts and Reflections (Part 2)
Advent 2011: Thoughts and Reflections (Part 4)