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Friday, April 14, 2006 

The Death of the Messiah

This is the day that Christians traditionally celebrate the death of their Lord and Savior. As much as I rant and rave against those who tend to glorify the cross to the extent that they lose the resurrection of Christ, the death of Jesus is important for Christian theology. Indeed, the idea that Jesus' death was for sins is found early in the Christian tradition. Paul in 1 Cor. 15: 1ff tells the Corinthians that he passed onto them what was of first importance, namely, "that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures..."

It is amazing to me, that even before Paul (who speaks more than any other voice in the New Testament concerning what God did in Christ through his death on the cross) the theological interpretation of the Messiah's death as "for our sins" was already commonplace in the tradition. The death of Jesus was obviously very important early on for the nascent believing community. But let us not forget that the death is meaningless without the resurrection and that it is the latter which led to the subsequent theological interpretation of Jesus' death. But more on this Sunday.

Since I fear that any words I have to say about the death of Jesus would be inadequate (naturally, I'd much rather prefer to speak about the resurrection) I would direct those who are looking for such insight to Michael Bird at Euangelion and his great post in which he provides an excellent story that exemplifies the sacrifice involved in the concept of penal substitution. Well, until Sunday, may everyone have a blessed Good Friday and Sabbath.

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