Just what we need…

…another movie about Jesus.

Paul Verhoeven, the director of such movie classics as Basic Instinct and Starship Troopers is interested in making a movie about Jesus. I read about it here and saw mention of it on wikipedia, as well. Here is an excerpt from the article:

From a recent interview conducted by Richard von Busack before an appearance by Verhoeven in Santa Rosa, Calif.: “The message of Jesus is the way he lived. That he ultimately was killed was something that just happened. By seeing it as a sacrifice we diminish the importance of what he’s thinking. Putting the cross and the resurrection at the heart of the story has diminished the importance of Jesus’ message.”

In Verhoeven’s version of Jesus’ life, Jesus is the product of a Roman Centurion’s rape of Mary. Whether this creative fiction on his part or he actually believes this to be the truth, I do not know. It should not surprise us that Verhoeven is a member of the Jesus Seminar. Either way, this is one movie that I hope never sees the light of day. If it does, it will stand in a long line of media that denies the divinity of Christ in favor of his humanity. This has always been heresy and it still is.

The Cross of Christ (and the vindication of the Resurrection) is central to any other “message” of Christ. The Cross both validates the place of those messages and gives power for their fulfillment. They cannot be separated so easily and maintain their importance. Furthermore, the notion, that the crucifixion is something that just happened requires a radical re-reading and reduction of Scripture (which the Jesus Seminar is very much in favor of).  I am attaching a Good Friday homily preached in 2007 that addresses this topic – click on continue reading to see that.

Good Friday Homily
God’s Plan:  The Cross

Why are you here?
•    Don’t you know that archaeologists have found the bones of Jesus and that of his family?  Yes, he may have been crucified but his predictions of his resurrection must have just been a lunacy or egomania.
•    Or didn’t you see the Primetime special on a few weeks that interviewed a former Puerto Rican criminal who claims to be the second coming of Christ.   Amazingly, he has developed quite a following but his message is compelling – particularly the part where he declares that there is no more sin and no longer any need to pray.
•    Or maybe you have heard that Jesus death does not mean what we think it means.  Jesus didn’t die for us, but for a political cause.  Listen to these words from a recent article in the magazine the Christian Century by Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan:   “What…was Jesus’ intention for that week in Jerusalem which would turn out to be his last one on earth?  Jesus went to the capital city of his people to confront Roman imperial power and religious collaboration with it.   He did so from out of the heart of Judaism and in the name of the kingdom of God as God’s passion for this earth.”

If any of the above is true, then we should be the first to go home and either cry ourselves to sleep or drink ourselves into oblivion.  But we’re here because we don’t believe any of those items contain the currency of truth and because they don’t make sense of the life of Christ or his death upon the Cross.

The Cross of Christ is:

[The Intention of Christ]
In each of the Gospels, just as I have just read from Matthew, we see Christ speaking of his death as not just something that will happen to him, but something that he will do.  As you read through the Gospels it is hard to not get the sense that every word, every action, and every step of Christ was purposeful (especially true in the Gospel of Mark).  In communicating to his disciples, Jesus does not skirt the issue or speak of what might happen.
→ The language Christ uses
→ A difficult teaching for the disciples

•    John Stott:  “Although Jesus was brought to his death by human sins, he did not die as a martyr.  On the contrary, he went to the cross voluntarily, even deliberately.  From the beginning of his public ministry he consecrated himself to this destiny.”
•    Octavius Winslow:  “Who delivered up Jesus to die?  Not Judas, for money; not Pilate, for fear; not the Jews, for envy; – but the Father, for love!”
The Cross was without a doubt the intention of Christ because of the love of God for us.

[An Indictment of Sin]

The Cross of Christ is also an indictment against sin.  We cannot understand the Cross of Christ without understanding the depths of our sin.  There is no shortage of evidence either in Scripture or from this world we live in that sin is serious.  The problem is that we don’t want to own it as our own or we try to convince one another that God grades on the curve (and it’s a big curve).  But nothing, other than the seriousness and depth of our sin, explains the death of Christ adequately.  Either Christ’s sacrifice addresses our sin problem, our depravity, our rebellion, our arrogance, etc… or it is the greatest tragedy ever known on this earth.

[Illustration]:  Family Values Artwork

•    John Stott:  “We too sacrifice Jesus to our greed like Judas, to our envy like the priests, to our ambition like Pilate.”

Romans 3:23-26 – “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.  This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forebearance he had passed over former sins.  It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

The Cross is an indictment of our sin, but it is Christ who stands in our place and stands condemned.

[Of Infinite Worth]
Finally, the Cross of Christ is of infinite worth to the believer.  Whose blood was shed upon the cross?  Was it the blood of a man merely confronting Roman imperial power and religious collaboration?  By no means!  It was the blood of our God who suffers and dies for us.  And what is done by God will not be undone by God.  What is done by God cannot be undone by man.

•    Leviticus 17:11 – “For the life of the flesh in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.”
•    Ephesians 20:28 – “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.”

Indelible – making marks that cannot be erased or removed; Impossible to remove, erase, or wash away; permanent:

A Debtor to Mercy Alone:
My name from the palms of His hands Eternity will not erase; Impressed on His
Heart it remains in marks of indelible grace; Yes, I to the end shall endure; As
sure as the earnest is given;  More happy but not more secure The glorified spirits
in heaven.

Lydia and I have a good friend who planned ahead for one of the most important moments in his life.  When Jason was sixteen, he began saving a little bit of his paychecks from part-time jobs for an engagement ring.  He did not know who he would marry or when that marriage would take place, but he knew that marriage was where he was heading.  God had been planning on giving this gift for a long time.  There had been hints and allusions along the way.  And in Christ and His Cross we find the fullness of His love poured out for us and received by faith.  Listen to these words from 1 Peter that speaks of God’s work, set in motion long ago…

1 Peter 1:18-21 – “…you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.  He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for your sake, who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

Indeed, may our hope and faith rest solely on God this Good Friday.


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