Ch.1: A Vitally Important Scandal
The evocative and existential power of the symbol of the cross remains as potent as ever for believer and non-believer alike. Why is that?
This is the question N. T. Wright (NTW) proposes to treat in this book. Why do Christians consider this event, so scandalous in so many ways, the day the world changed forever and for its good? This question resists easy answers. But fortunately its power and reality do not depend on such answers, easy or otherwise. Yet it is a question and as such demands an answer (as best we can supply one). So NTW sets his hand to provide one.
He lays out an agenda for his answer at the close of the chapter (18). First, there’s the historical question (Why did Jesus get killed by Pilate at the insistence of the Jewish leaders?) followed closely by the theological (What did God intend this event to achieve?) question, both of which are inextricably intertwined. And then finally, and related to these two questions is a third – “What did Jesus think was going on in all this?”
These break down into other questions surrounding Jesus’ crucifixion and others’ responses to it. Among them,
-what does “for our sins” mean?
-what would first century Jews have taken this phrase to mean?
-why do Christians consider it “good news”?
-how is it related to the “kingdom of God”?
-how could a man acclaimed as God’s king be crucified by a human empire?
The land to be traversed now laid out for us, let the journey begin!