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What Does Jesus Save Us From?

In this video, Douglas Wilson talks about the human predicament and why we need a saviour.

[vimeo 14483003]

Jesus, the Poor Man

In Proverbs and Matt 25, God identifies with the poor symbolically. But in the incarnation and death of Jesus… God identifies with the poor and marginal literally. Jesus was born in a feeding trough. At his circumcision Jesus’ family offered what was required of the poor (Luke 2:24). He said, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Matt 8:20). At the end of his life, he rode into Jerusalem on a borrowed donkey, spent his last evening in a borrowed room, and when he died, he was laid in a borrowed tomb. They cast lots for his only possession, his robe, for there on the cross he was stripped of everything.

All this gives new meaning to the question: “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or naked or in prison?” The answer is—on the cross, where he died amidst the thieves, among the marginalized. No wonder Paul could say that once you see Jesus becoming poor for us, you will never look at the poor the same way again.

Tim Keller in The Gospel and the Poor, Themelios Vol 33, Issue 3, Dec 2008.

The mystery of the cross

Into this kind of self-centered, earthly kingdom, Jesus brought a different and dramatic – albeit radical – response to pain and suffering. His answer was a stumbling block then, and it is a stumbling block now. But only if it is properly and seriously understood can its beauty be seen amidst its obvious pain and hatred. I refer to the cross of Christ. The cross stands as a mystery because it is foreign to everything we exalt – self over principle, power over meekness, the quick fix over the long haul, cover-up over confession, escapism over confrontation, comfort over sacrifice, feeling over commitment, legality over justice, the body over the spirit, anger over forgiveness, man over God.

[I]n the cross alone, pain and evil meet in consummate conflict. In the cross alone are integrated love and justice, the twin foundations upon which we may build our moral and spiritual home, individually and nationally. It is theoretically and practically impossible to build any community apart from love and justice. If only one of these two is focused upon, an inevitable extremism and perversion follow. Throughout history, mankind has shouted its ideals of liberty, equality, and justice; yet the ideologies that have risen, supposedly in the pursuit of human progress, have left in their wake some very dastardly experiments that echo with the whimpering sounds of man, like a trapped animal. Rising above the cry of liberty, equality and justice is the more rending plea for that sense of belonging we call love. And love unbounded by any sense of right or wrong is not love but self-centeredness and autocracy. In the cross of Jesus Christ, the demands of the law were satisfied and the generosity of love was love was expressed.

Ravi Zacharias, Can Man Live Without God, Word Publishing (1994), pages 171-172.

What do Christians mean when they say 'God cannot suffer'?

God is impassible, which means that no one can inflict suffering, pain, or any sort of distress upon him. Insofar as God enters into experience of that kind, it is by empathy for his creatures and according to his own deliberate decision, not as his creatures’ victim. The words “of that kind” are important, for this impassibility has never been taken by Christian mainstreamers to mean that God is a stranger to joy and delight; it has, rather, been construed as an assertion of the permanence of God’s joy and delight; which no pain clouds. How the formula applies to the atoning sufferings of the incarnate Son is a special and open question, on which different views have been, and are, maintained . . . The historical answer [to the question of what is meant by ‘God cannot suffer’] is: not impassivity, unconcern, and impersonal detachment in face of the creation; not insensitivity and indifference to the distresses of a fallen world; not inability or unwillingness to empathize with human pain and grief; but simply that God’s experiences do not come upon him as ours come upon us, for his are foreknown, willed and chosen by himself, and not involuntary surprises forced on him from outside, apart from his own decision, in the way that ours regularly are. In other words, he is never in reality the victim whom man makes to suffer: even the Son on his cross, where “a victime led, thy blood was shed,” was suffering by his Father’s conscious foreknowledge and choice, and those who made him suffer, however free and guilty their action, were real if unwitting tools of divine wisdom and agents of the divine plan (cf. Acts 2:23; 1 Peter 1:20).

J. I. Packer, “Theism for Our Time,” pages 7-8, 16-17.