I reflect on Jesus’ crucifixion and how this death stands for life in my March 27, 2011 sermon—the thirteenth in my series on Luke’s Gospel.
One of the big and challenging questions for Christians is the simple question: why did Jesus die? One way to approach this question is to look at the big story the Bible tells. In the story, right away with Abel we learn that sometimes being faithful to God might actually be the reason a person dies. The Old Testament later on sets out two types of conflict as central in the struggle for faithfulness among God’s people—the external conflict between the faith community and the empires of the world and the internal conflict between oppressive leaders inside the community and the prophetic voices of dissent.
The gospels then place Jesus right in the middle of this big story—and recount how his life involves the same two types of conflict as he bumps up against both the religious institutions and the political institutions of his day. Jesus got into trouble because of his double commitment to challenge oppressors and to welcome the oppressed. And he does so nonviolently.