Witnesses to a Surprise
A good reminder for Good Friday, from Thomas Yoder Neufeld’s Killing Enmity. And, perhaps, a bit of a rebuke for all of us who are tempted to explain how the cross “works” on this day when the lights go dim and God gives himself away:
How could the followers of Jesus make sense of and give expression to this non sequitur of grace? It is exactly here that we need to locate the various efforts of New Testament writers to find vocabulary, motifs, images and metaphors for what is news. All of these metaphors emerge out of the euphoria of gratitude and worship, not the desire to figure out the mathematics or the chemistry of atonement….
The writers of the New Testament are witnesses to a surprise, not theoreticians of atonement. Royal court, legal court, sacrificial ritual, commercial transaction, kidnapping, invasion, giving one’s life for another, becoming one with the object of love—all of these together offer a glimpse at the wonder of a God who forgives, who pays the inestimable debt, who loves even his enemies, who raises them up to sit with his own son on the throne, who gathers everything and everyone together into his Anointed in a cosmic embrace.