Christian Mysticism Churches: I only wish I was a bit clearer about Jesus’ death – I mean, was it just a bizarre miscarriage of justice, or is there a deeper meaning that is not just the mystical and wishful thinking interpretation of guilt-ridden religious enthusiasts? Are you one of those people, who wistfully think there may be more, but it’s like the elusive end of the rainbow, and you never quite find it? Here are a few clues that may help.
Jesus’ death still has a fascination because it’s so universal, and the one death that makes us feel as if we were somehow involved. I realise that is not now as strong as it used to be in a post Christian western culture. So how shall we find a clearer understanding of Jesus’ death?
Here are some of the main ways of seeing Jesus’ death:
1. As a misguided religious teacher. Jesus misjudged the outcome of his life and teaching, which troubled the religious authorities to an extent he had not foreseen. As a result of which he lost his life, and became a martyr.
2. The moral influence theory believes that thinking and meditating about Jesus’ death will help to inspire a good life and devotion to a higher cause.
3. A sacramental view believes all mankind is mystically included in the eternal self-offering of Jesus to God and salvation is through sharing in Church sacraments.
4. This view sees that when Jesus died and rose again, he crushed the powers of evil and became the Victor over sin and death.
5. The substitutionary atonement view believes Jesus’ death was a sacrifice for sin when he, the sinless God-man, accepted in full, once for all, the judgement due to sinners.
• FOUR & FIVE
As I have looked at these five interpretations I am persuaded that only the final two views come near a clear biblical understanding of Jesus’ death. And more than that; only the fifth view is foundational and primary and embraces the belief of Jesus being Victor over Satan and his evil powers. Only the view of Jesus’ death being a sacrifice made on behalf of others, agrees with Jesus’ teaching and how the Old Testament Scriptures anticipated it. I shall need to explain this, because you may well be thinking that it is a belief based on wishful thinking or religious imagination reading back much later ideas.