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How God Gets What God Wants

An interesting quote for Good Friday, from William Willimon’s Why Jesus?:

[T]he cross is not what God demands of Jesus for our sin but rather what Jesus got for bringing the love of God so close to sinners like us.  This is all validated by God raising this crucified victim from the dead, not by dramatically rescuing Jesus’ failed messianic project, nor certifying that Jesus had, at last, paid the divine price for our sin.  Rather, it showed the world who God really is and how God gets what God wants.

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. Ken #

    It is an unfamiliar take on Jesus’ death. It sounds like he is saying that humanity killed Jesus for loving us.

    April 22, 2011
    • Yeah, it seemed a bit odd to me when I first read it too…

      As a good Mennonite, I do think that Jesus most clearly shows us who God really is, but it seems like Willimon’s working a little too hard to distance Jesus’ death from anything like a penalty for sin (understanding, of course, that this is a nonstarter from a liberal perspective). Perhaps we could read him charitably and say that it was the kind of love that Jesus demonstrated (i.e., love for outsiders) that led to him being killed? Still, it’s an interpretation of Jesus’ death that I’m not entirely comfortable with, even if I can’t quite articulate why…

      April 22, 2011
      • Ken #

        I wonder what he means by “Jesus’ failed messianic project.” On the surface it sounds like he is saying Jesus imagined he was the messiah, or set out to be the messiah and failed. The expression “failed messiah project” sounds like something someone today may say cynically about a person who had big progressive dreams without any real hope of achieving them.

        April 23, 2011
  2. Paul Johnston #

    This quote resonates with me. Maybe, in part, a response to Rob Bell’s “your always forgiven, get out of jail free” card….It’s 2:30 am and I’ve probably had a little bit more red wine than I should have had, or maybe not :).

    I’ve read that upwards of 20,000 people die each and every day for the lack of clean drinking water. If that’s true I can only conclude that in the end, in so far as these people are concerned, we really don’t give a fuck.

    We killed Jesus then, we kill him now.

    April 23, 2011
  3. Paul Johnston #

    Perhaps he means failed messianic project from the perspective of the Jews. Looking for a messiah who was a political liberator.

    April 23, 2011
    • Yes, I would assume something like this is what he has in mind here.

      April 23, 2011
      • Ken #

        Which makes me cringe for another reason. His language sounds like he is hammering someone. No better that it be Jews, then or now, than to be Jesus.

        I wonder which sect in Judah Willimon believes held the messianic views that were a failed project, or is he referring to people who actually began to call themselves Jews in the second century?

        The New Testament appears to claim that Jesus is the messiah and that the church is the new Israel and the new creation. It is not an apolitical messianic claim.

        April 23, 2011
      • I don’t get the impression that Willimon is “hammering someone.” I think in that sentence he’s simply pointing out that the Jews in Jesus’ day had some very clear expectations of what a Messiah would look like, and by most accounts Jesus would have been viewed as a failure. Whatever their messianic expectations might have looked like, crucifixion wasn’t part of the deal. I think that’s all Willimon is referring to here.

        April 23, 2011

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