Red Thread of the Bible 11c: The death of Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 25)

Red Thread of the Bible 11c: The death of Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 25)

Red Thread of the Bible 11c: The death of Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 25)

The opponents of Jesus thought to finish him off by putting him to death. Did they achieve it?

The disciples want to save their lives! As Jesus announces his approaching death, his disciples find nothing better to do than to argue over which of them will sit on his right and on his left in his Kingdom. And while they had promised him unfailing loyalty, they shatter their commitment as soon as the situation becomes critical. Betrayal, passivity, flight, curiosity, denial, violence, personal ambition… Despite all their goodwill, even having lived alongside Jesus, human beings remain incapable of remaining attached to God, since they broke their trust in their Creator. Man seeks selfishly to save what is most precious to him: his life!

Jesus comes to give his life: In response to this survival instinct, Jesus affirms on the contrary that he came to give his life as a ransom for many. For Jesus, his death is the goal of his mission so that “the Scriptures may be fulfilled”. Even if all human reactions of suffering, apprehension and struggle are very present in Jesus, he advances towards an acceptance of his mission thanks to his dependence on God. In such a situation, only a perfect man like Jesus could overcome the weaknesses of his humanity, thanks to his unwavering trust in God.

Unjust Conviction for Just Cause: Legally, Jesus did nothing wrong, and the hastily thrown out false evidence against him is unconvincing. Moreover, the three official authorities of the time, which one cannot accuse of connivance because they hate each other, all confirm that the life of Jesus is exemplary. To find a reason to condemn him to death, the religious leaders are forced to come to question Jesus about his identity. Yes, Jesus claims to be the son of God. And a few days before, he demonstrated his divinity: The Almighty over Death, by bringing his friend Lazarus back to life!

His blood shed for humanity: The whole story could pass for a classic miscarriage of justice. But voluntarily, Jesus has just given his life: the turn of events is the one that God had wanted. Such was God’s plan to save mankind. The Bible affirms that by killing the son of God, his executioners « do not know what they are doing ». They are accomplishing what the whole universe has been waiting for since Genesis 3. This is why, even by possessing legitimacy and the means to assert his rights, Jesus does not seek to defend himself. On the contrary, he remains faithful to his identity until the end, healing his attackers, forgiving his executioners, and allowing himself to be crucified.

The Final Passover: While several significant events in history happen on the same day, at different times, the similarities between the Passover feast established by God as a means of liberation from slavery in Egypt and the death of Jesus are troubling:

• They take place on the same calendar day,

• In the same context of imminent judgment announced by John the Baptist,

• With the same solution: the sacrifice of a victim whose blood has the power to protect those who believe in his sacrifice from the judgment of God. While a lamb freed all who trusted in the promise of freedom from slavery in Egypt, Jesus, « the Lamb of God » is offered to restore the relationship between man and the Creator.

All is accomplished: The death of Jesus, this perfect Man/God, and his life offered by the shedding of his blood are the only culmination of the rescue plan offered by God and promised to humanity. Also, Jesus can end his life by affirming that “It is finished”! As proof, the veil of the temple is torn from top to bottom. This veil, which separated the presence of God and that of Man, is now useless. And this reconciliation is not the work of Man, but of God, who can now, thanks to the death of Jesus, break what separated men from their Creator. From now on, Man is no longer forced to be separated from God; he has the freedom to make a choice!

Stand in front of Jesus: On the same day and in the same place, two dangerous criminals suffer the same death sentence as Jesus. One of the two considers this situation as an opportunity to be saved: he tries to save himself; thus, he encourages Jesus to lose sight of His objective, pushing Jesus to the spectacular. The thief’s selfish attempt, and his stubbornness, lead him to his final loss: he dies without being reconciled with God by Jesus. The second, seeing Jesus at his side recognizes him as King of the universe and accepts his authority! By placing his trust in the work of Jesus, he obtains a free and undeserved rescue, receiving from the very mouth of Jesus a direct confirmation that reconciliation with God is possible irrespective of his CV! “You will be with me today in paradise”. When Jesus knows he is going to die; yet he also speaks as if he were still alive! Can Jesus conquer death?

The whole life of Jesus is beyond us in quality and capacity. Are there other equivalents in the history of humanity?

Biblical texts: Available in Darby online: Matthew 26-27 (below), Mark 10, Luke 23 and John 19.

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