ISSUES OF FAITH: The life of Jesus: Uncomplicated but meaningful

YOU MAY WONDER, as I have, why Good Friday is considered “good” when it is the day that Jesus the Messiah was nailed to the cross. Every year at this time, I ponder this.

Over breakfast with my wife recently, I asked her opinion on that very subject.

“It’s called good because Jesus opened up heaven for us,” she said, coffee cup in hand. Right, I was thinking how beautifully put that is.

Then why did Jesus have to die, you might ask? Jesus himself gives plentiful explanations for this throughout the Gospels; the most common I believe is along this line.

“Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” John 12:24

We know that Jesus went willingly to the cross, as painful as it was.

He is fully human and fully divine so it wasn’t like he didn’t feel the knotted whips, the thorns penetrating his scalp and the nails driven into bone and flesh.

Crucifixion was the Romans’ preferred method to scare the populace, humiliate the victim and torture as well. A horrible way to die this was (and is).

Christian witnesses and martyrs are still being crucified in North Africa and areas of the Middle East.

During this Lent, I have read and re-read some classics on the life of Christ and daily scripture as well.

I often use the phrase, “It’s not complicated,” to describe various issues or thoughts that come to us daily.

I wouldn’t use this to describe some of the vast, expansive stories in the Old Testament, but the life of Christ I would describe as “not complicated.”

We often wonder (I hear this and have thought of this myself) why God would do things the way he did. He set up perfect paradise in the Garden, only to have immediate problems. Salvation history then begins.

He loves us too much and he will not leave us orphans. This is the story of the Old Testament, bringing humankind back to God. To say this was a struggle is no understatement. God’s final covenant is with Christ and his church.

There will be no more prophets or revelation. We have our guide and handbook, the Bible (Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth). We have the teachings of the church and the Sacraments, even in it’s sinfulness, to lead us to heaven.

Jesus dies.

“Greater love has no man than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13

Really think about that. He opened up heaven for us, he bore all of our sins, just so we could have life and have it abundantly. Makes perfect sense, right? Not in today’s world.

Today we have a culture that thinks they will not ever have to answer to God. Who, if they believe in God, think their overall goodness will — well, we don’t know what they think.

Heaven? You seriously believe in that? Eternal soul? What? Here I come again: It’s not complicated.

Read the Gospels (might I suggest Luke) if it’s the only thing you do this Easter weekend. And then keep reading them. You will learn something about Jesus, his Apostles, his friends, his miracles, his parables — his life.

And you will learn something about yourself. You may see yourself among the crowds, among the proud, among the humble, among the curious, questioning masses.

It is a great story and it is for every one of us.

Jesus speaks of heaven and hell. He is the “good shepherd … who lays down his life for his sheep.”

And we are the sheep.

Don’t. Miss. It.

“At nightfall, weeping enters in, but with the dawn, rejoicing.” A Psalm of David, 30.

Indeed, rejoice.

_________

Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. Mike Acheson is director of religious education at Queen of Angels Roman Catholic Church in Port Angeles and St. Joseph Parish in Sequim. His email is mikea@olypen.com.

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