Friday, April 18, 2014

The significance of Jesus suffering

In my article on Finding virtue in suffering, I  pointed out that there is no virtue in suffering. Instead, suffering produces virtues. St. Paul, in his letter to Romans (5:3-4), identifies some as perseverance,character,and hope. Those who have undergone suffering, as well as witnesses to the sufferings of others will surely agree with the claim. Stories of transformation in individuals and their significant others are innumerable to tell. My life-journey is now part of that package.

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But what makes the significance of Jesus peculiar? The prophet Isaiah has already provided the answer long before this was first asked. “He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-5), New Living Translation,2007

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A brother in faith and partner in development endeavors has a very clear and logical presentation of this redemptive process. Atty. Edwin R.Catacutan considers his book, Creation, Fall and Redemption as a lawyer’s incursion into Christian Theology. In half- an- inch thick document, the book capsulizes the story of the Bible. For him the bible is divided into two parts with highlight on the three significant cosmic events, i.e. the title of the book. These are the dominant thoughts of the Bible story. The first part (Creation and Fall) contains the reasons why the rest of the bible was written – Redemption Procedure: Effects and Aftermath.

As a justice requirement, there needs to be a redeemer to the sentenced humanity. Legally, angels are disqualified, having no physical body and subsequent death. As progeny of Adam already burdened with own death, nobody from the human race is qualified. Hence, no one can substitute for another, or for own self, despite willful act. Neither can any one force another to sacrifice for himself. Purchasing redemption is also a legal impossibility. For, as the author argues, with reference to the bible, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world, and they that dwell therein.” (Psalm 24.1)

The only option is a kinsman of the human race who is able and willing to do the job. A truly man, with flesh and blood not contaminated by sinful nature, who can truly experience death. The only mathematical solution is a virgin birth - child of a woman, begotten of the Holy Spirit. … That way the offspring, while being man, can also be truly God who is able to perform task of redeemer.

(To be continued) 

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