Day 39 – Devotional & Discussion April 18, 2014

Luke 23:32-49

How is Jesus’ death a part of “breaking the chains of injustice” and setting captives free?  What hope might the cross give to those who are imprisoned?  What hope might the cross give to the victims of crime?

We’ve been so influenced by substitutionary atonement theology that we often can only understand Jesus’ death in that light.  (i.e. “I should have died for my sins, but Jesus died in my place.”)  Historically, the church has had a number of other ways of understanding Jesus’ death.  Theologian James Cone, author of “The Cross and the Lynching Tree” has articulated a case that Jesus’ death is comparable to the lynching “justice” of the Jim Crow south.  Suspicion, hatred, and mob action lead to an unjust sentence of death.  Jesus suffers injustice and is representative of all those who face injustice and the threat of death.   And in absorbing the hatred by refusing to respond with hatred and violence even to the point of death, Jesus exposes the forces of violence and injustice and is vindicated at the resurrection. 

Is Mr. Cone’s comparison helpful to you as you consider Jesus’ death?  If so, how?

One comment

  1. I think Cone’s perspective is interesting, but I can’t say that I find it very helpful. The atonement is a major event, and I suspect one theory alone is not nearly enough to encompass all that it means. I do agree that penal substitution has been given way too much time and energy. While I don’t want to abandon penal substitution entirely, I prefer Christus Victor. Joel B. Green’s book Recovering The Scandal Of The Cross is excellent. http://www.amazon.com/Recovering-Scandal-Cross-Atonement-Contemporary/dp/0830815716

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