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The Self Understanding of Jesus

Discovering Jesus: Part 4

Jirair Tashjian

Introduction

In the Middle Ages, whenever artists did a painting of Jesus, they put a halo on him to indicate his divinity. But is that how Peter and the other disciples saw Jesus? Did John the Baptist see a halo? And surely Caiaphas and Pilate did not see a halo, did they? What did they see? What would we see if we were there?

In this conclusion to our series on Discovering Jesus, I want to raise another kind of question: How did Jesus see himself? Did he think, "I am God, I am the Creator?" How did Jesus, and how should we, view his death on a Roman cross? The topic for this study will be the self-understanding of Jesus. How did Jesus look at himself?

The Difficulty of the Question

When we read the Synoptic Gospels (Matt, Mark, Luke), we don’t find Jesus saying, "I am the Messiah, I am the Son of God, believe in me." In fact, Jesus does not really present himself as such. He presents God. He presents the kingdom of God. He does not call attention to himself. He calls attention to God. Mark 1:14-15 tells us what the message of Jesus was: "Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’"  There is not a word about himself, who he was, or what we are supposed to think of him. The gospel writers, being true to the message of Jesus, do not really tell us what Jesus thought of himself. We have to read between the lines.

It is true that the Gospel of John does tell us what Jesus said about himself. In this Gospel we have the seven "I am" sayings of Jesus: "I am the bread of life," "I am the good shepherd," "I am the resurrection and the life," "I am the way, the truth and the life," and so on (see "I AM" in John's Gospel). Jesus said, "The Father and I are one" (John 10:30). "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:9). How is it that John tells us so much about the self-identity of Jesus and the first three gospels don’t? Did Jesus really speak about himself, as John tells us, or did he not speak about himself as the Synoptic Gospels seem to imply? When we read about Jesus in John and read about Jesus in the Synoptics, it’s as if we are reading about two Jesuses. We have two different pictures of Jesus. What was Jesus really like? How did he speak? What was his self-understanding?

Now, without denying the truth of the Gospel of John, I want us to focus on the Synoptic Gospels. The Gospel of John is a wonderful gospel, and it shows us the spiritual significance of the person of Jesus Christ. In that respect it’s a different type of gospel than the Synoptics. Its purpose is not the same as the other gospels. In fact, its purpose is explicitly stated in 20:30-31: "These things are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you might have life in his name." John wanted to show that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God. There is no question that in the Gospel of John, Jesus does speak of himself as the Son of God, and God as his Father. But what about the other Gospels?

Jesus Was Not Interested in Titles

In the Synoptic Gospels there is not a single place where Jesus says, "I am the Messiah," or, "I am the Son of God; believe in me." There are hints here and there that he may have thought of himself as Messiah or as Son of God, but Jesus does not go out of his way to make an issue of it publicly. In fact, the few places where the issue comes up, it is other people who make such statements, not Jesus himself. When demon-possessed people shout, "I know who you are, the Holy One of God," Jesus says, "Be silent, and come out of him!" (Mark 1:24-25).

About halfway through the Gospel of Mark, in chapter eight, we find Jesus and his disciples in Caesarea Philippi, away from Galilee. He asked his disciples, "Who do people say that I am?" They gave a number of interesting answers: John the Baptist, Elijah, one of the prophets (8:28). "But who do you say that I am?" Jesus asked. Peter made the emphatic confession, "You are the Messiah." Instead of commending Peter, as he does in Matthew's account, Jesus "sternly ordered" them not to tell anyone about him. The Greek word translated "sternly ordered" in the NRSV is the same word used in the exorcism in 1:25 where it is translated "rebuked" in order to describe the response of Jesus to the evil spirit. In other words, Jesus muzzled the disciples in the same way he had muzzled the evil spirits. Why? The answer is clear from the conversation that follows, as we shall see later.

In another episode, when Jesus was before the Jewish Sanhedrin after his arrest, they asked him if he was the Messiah. Luke’s version of the story captures the situation and the attitude of Jesus very graphically. Jesus said, "If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I question you, you will not answer," and then went on on to make the statement about the Son of Man being seated at the right hand of God. Then they asked him if he was the Son of God. He said, "You say that I am" (Luke 22:67-70). Shortly after that Jesus was brought before Pilate, who asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews" (23:3). Jesus again gave a non-committal answer, "You say so," without affirming or denying the label.

These incidents illustrate something very significant about Jesus. Jesus was not particularly concerned about titles. Human beings are so concerned about titles and labels. Correct protocol requires that people be addressed with appropriate titles, especially in Eastern cultures such as the Jewish culture of Jesus. But even here in the West titles are significant, as attested by the custom of academic institutions to grant honorary doctorates.

The attitude of Jesus about titles is best illustrated by a couple of statements. One of them is in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:21-23 where Jesus said that entry into the kingdom of God is not a matter of calling Jesus "Lord, Lord," but doing the will of God. Ironically, the other statement is in the Gospel of John in the account of the Last Supper. In John Jesus' words about the bread and the cup are not recounted as they are in the other Gospels. Instead, John tells about Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. The words of Jesus after the foot-washing are noteworthy (John 13:12-17):

Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

Jesus was in effect saying to them, "Do you want to call me Teacher and Lord? Fine. But remember what kind of Lord you’re dealing with. This is a master and teacher who washes feet, a task that slaves were supposed to do." And yes, Jesus was the good shepherd, but this was a shepherd that did what is totally unexpected:  he sacrificed his life for the sheep. And yes, Jesus was the bread of life, but it was bread that was broken into pieces on Calvary and given out to be eaten (cf. John 6). The seven "I am" sayings in John are not really titles that the high and mighty would appreciate. In fact, they are not titles at all. They all have one thing in common: they say to us that the source of our life is in Jesus, whether as bread or water or shepherd or resurrection or vine. And the only reason he is the source of our life is that he gave up his own life. So even in John the titles for Jesus are not really titles of power and dignity and self-aggrandizement. They are descriptions of servanthood.

Jesus as Messiah and Son of God

This is not to deny that Jesus may very well have thought of himself as Messiah and Son, even though in the Synoptics he rarely if ever makes overt use of such titles in public. In fact, about the only way that Jesus refers to himself in the Synoptic Gospels is son of man. That was not a specific title for the Messiah. That term has an ambiguous background in the Old Testament. Sometimes it is used simply as a reference to humanity, such as in Psalm 8:4. God addressed Ezekiel as son of man (2:1, 3:1, etc.), simply referring to him as a human being. The most significant use of it is in Daniel 7:13 where in a vision Daniel says that he saw someone like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven.

It’s not that Jesus rejected the idea of messiahship or sonship. What he did was to give new meaning to those terms. To state it more precisely, Jesus went back to the real meaning of Messiah, and the real meaning of Son of God. Jesus did not insist that people address him with those titles, but he certainly understood what it meant to be Messiah. He understood what it meant to be Son of God.

Messiah is a Hebrew term that means "one who is anointed." Even though the title messiah as such does not occur in the Old Testament, the concept is present in various ways. Different individuals in the Old Testament were anointed, such as priests and kings, and possibly prophets, as a way to symbolize the God appointed nature of their role among God's people. The anointing symbolized the authority and presence of God.  Even though the kings of Israel were supposed to be anointed, the kingship had degenerated so much that in several cases someone usurped the kingship by assassinating the king that was on the throne. Intrigue, jealousy, and murder too often took the place of a divine anointing. Consequently the prophets of the Old Testament longed for an ideal king who would come and be empowered by the anointing of God to bring justice and peace and righteousness to Israel, one who would seek the well-being of all the people rather than his own position and power, one who would truly be a shepherd to the sheep.

In his inaugural sermon at the synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4:14-30) Jesus read the words of Isaiah 61:1-2 and 58:6 and then said, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing" (see Lectionary Commentary on Luke 4:14-21 and Luke 4:21-30, and Verse Commentary on Isaiah 61:1-11).  Now notice what he did. He did not say, "I’m the anointed one, the Messiah," although he implied it. But in effect he was saying, "God has begun to do some great things right here. Will you believe it? Can you accept it?" The attention is not on the dignity, majesty, honor, power and glory of the anointed one. The emphasis is on what it means for Jesus to live a life that is anointed by the Spirit. It means good news to the poor, release to the captives, sight to the blind, freedom for the oppressed. Notice something else: the way this Messiah is going to bring good news and release and sight and freedom is not through a military expedition that would vanquish the enemy. It is by the Spirit of the Lord that Jesus is going to fulfill God’s purpose and design.

The disciples apparently caught enough of what Jesus was about to be able to say as Peter said, "You are the Messiah." Yet Jesus sternly admonished the disciples not to tell this to anyone. Why? Jesus began to define for them what messiahship meant: this Messiah will be slapped in the face, spat upon, his beard pulled, betrayed and killed (Mk 8:31, 10:34, Matt 16:21). Matthew and Mark say that Peter rebuked Jesus—that same word that was used earlier about Jesus rebuking the evil spirits. In Mark it was Peter who rebuked Jesus. Then Jesus in turn rebuked Peter. Jesus proceeded to describe the conditions of discipleship: "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me" (Mark 8:34). Given the intensity of emotion expended in this give-and-take between Jesus and the disciples, Mark seems to imply that this was a crisis point for Peter and the other disciples. Suddenly they realized for the first time that the way of Jesus and their way of thinking were at cross-purposes. Mark describes their mood a little later when he says, "They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid" (10:32).

Jesus Facing the Possibility of His Own Violent Death

Jesus was not asking Peter to do something from which he exempted himself. When Hebrews said that Jesus was tested, yet without sin (Heb 4:15), it means that Jesus himself faced his own spiritual crises. That expression in Hebrews is so pregnant with meaning, it’s so precious: "he learned obedience by the things he suffered." This matter of being a Messiah or Son of God was not all predetermined and a foregone conclusion so that what happened simply unfolded automatically according to a script that Jesus know by heart beforehand. And it certainly wasn’t a matter of grabbing power, or position, or title or dignity. No wonder Jesus so frequently prayed all night long.

Jesus is not the only person in history to be crucified. The Romans crucified thousands of Jews. So in that respect the death of Jesus was not unique. Others suffered the same way. What is unique and utterly surprising about the execution of Jesus is that his death did not end his story. A major world religion resulted from his life, his message, and his death and resurrection. His disciples were absolutely convinced that this Jesus whom the Romans crucified had been raised by God and vindicated as Messiah and Lord. How did the disciples of Jesus make such an incredible claim?

To understand the unbelievable story of the rise of Christianity from such unlikely circumstances as the humiliating death of a Jew on a Roman cross, we must probe the words and message of the man Jesus. It is unmistakably clear to me that Jesus anticipated his own death and ultimately succeeded in communicating the meaning of his death to his disciples, even if the full meaning did not dawn on them until after his death and their experience of his resurrection. When Jesus went to Jerusalem, he did not go with a na´ve outlook that all would go well there. It was not at all a surprise to him that a storm of controversy would explode on him and that his message and activity in Jerusalem would most likely lead to a violent death.

We must then ask the question why Jesus went to Jerusalem if he did anticipate the possibility of his violent death? The answer that we have heard all of our lives is that he went to Jerusalem to die for our sins because that was the only way God could forgive our sins (see Did Jesus Have to Die? and The Death of Jesus: Historically Contingent or Divinely Foreordained?). Yet the gospels tell some things about Jesus that don’t quite fit that.

If Jesus knew with utmost certainty that his primary mission in Jerusalem was to die for the sins of the world, what do we make of his prayer in Gethsemane (Mark 14:32-42)? Mark tells us that Jesus began to be distressed and agitated and he said to his disciples, "I am deeply grieved, even to death." The meaning of the verbs used by Mark to describe Jesus’ mood is that he was troubled, disturbed, stirred up, disquieted, perplexed, unsettled. Jesus prayed that the cup of suffering and death would be removed from him.

Various attempts have been made to make sense of this episode. One option might be that the whole Gethsemane account was invented by Mark or an earlier tradition that Mark used. However, if we apply the test of multiple attestation to this episode, it would be difficult to dismiss it altogether as pure invention. The writer of Hebrews, using words that are intriguingly reminiscent of the Gethsemane episode, says, "In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission" (5:7-8). Even the Gospel of John, which otherwise portrays Jesus as one who is in command of his own life and destiny in accord with divine purpose, includes a statement about his consternation at the thought of his own death, reminiscent of the synoptic account of Gethsemane. Jesus says, "Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name" (John 12:27).

If the Gethsemane story is at least in its core historical, as I believe it is, what exactly does it mean for him to pray that the hour may pass from him or that the Father may remove this cup from him (Mark 14:35-36)? Some have proposed that Jesus was not agonizing over suffering and death as such but over the prospect of God’s wrath on sin that he would have to endure. Yet none of this sort of thing is hinted at in the gospel accounts. Moreover, since this "cup" language was used earlier in Mark in the dialogue between Jesus and James and John, where the meaning could not be anything but suffering and death (Mk 10:38-39), so also here the cup means not God’s wrath but suffering and death.

We should seriously consider the likelihood that Jesus understood his mission in a more inclusive way than in terms of atoning death. Indeed, Jesus understood himself, his mission and his message as part of the kingdom of God. Mark 1:14-15 summarizes the message of Jesus at the beginning of the Galilean ministry in these words: "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news."

For Jesus, the kingdom of God may or may not include death. His commitment was to the kingdom of God, the will and purposes of God. It may mean death, but then it may not. It is not the death itself that is primary. He was not seeking death; he certainly was not suicidal. He was seeking the reign and rule of God in all things. He can pray that the cup of death be removed; that is negotiable. The kingdom of God is not negotiable. He can recoil from the thought of violent death; he cannot recoil from the kingdom of God and the will of God. His violent death was the result of human decisions; it was not metaphysically necessary to bring about the kingdom of God. 

In fact, Jesus often speaks of the coming of the kingdom of God without a word about a violent death as atoning sacrifice. He says, "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God" (Luke 6:20). "But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out the demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you" (Luke 11:20). "The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you" (Luke 17:20). The kingdom of God is offered to all because God’s love includes everyone. God "makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous" (Matt 5:45).

Jesus spoke about the kingdom of God in parables, drawn from everyday occurrences and realities familiar to his audience, with no violent death presupposed as a condition for its advent, except possibly in two parables. The two parables that involve a violent death are that of the wicked tenants in Matthew 21:33-45 and the wedding banquet in Matthew 22: 1-14.

The parable of the wicked tenants best illustrates the point I am making about the death of Jesus. This parable, which is found not only in Matthew but also in the other two Synoptic Gospels (Mark 12:1-12 and Luke 20:9-19), is placed after the so-called cleansing of the Temple and the questioning of Jesus by the chief priests, scribes, and elders as to what gave him the authority to cause such a disturbance. Jesus refused to answer their question directly, but instead he responded with a question about John the Baptist.

It is to this group in this context that Jesus told this parable. The story is about a vineyard owner who leased his vineyard to tenants and went to another country. When the harvest season arrived, he sent one servant after another to collect his share of the produce. But the tenants beat them up and sent them away empty-handed. Finally he sent his own son thinking that they would respect him. Instead they kill him and throw him out of the vineyard. All three gospels conclude the parable with the statement that when the religious leaders heard this they wanted to arrest him but were afraid of the people.

The point that I want to make here is that when the vineyard owner sent those servants and finally his son, he certainly did not expect, let alone intend, to have them abused or killed. He expected the tenants to recognize the servants and respect his son. The mission of the son was to collect the produce. By the same token, the mission of Jesus in Jerusalem was to proclaim the message of the kingdom of God, pronounce judgment on the temple and its religious and political establishment, and call this very center of Judaism to repentance. That would be the fruit that God was expecting from the vineyard keepers in Jerusalem. But the religious hierarchy was in no mood to lend an ear to a fanatical prophet from Galilee who was a threat to the status quo. The reality of the situation in Jerusalem was such that he expected his fate to be not much different from that of the son in the parable. In this vein, the mood of Jesus is graphically made clear from his lament over Jerusalem (Matt 23:37-39).

If death was not the purpose of Jesus’ going to Jerusalem, what then was the purpose? The one event during Passion Week widely recognized by critics as the single most significant reason for his arrest and execution was the disturbance that he caused at the Temple. It is also agreed that this was not a cleansing at all but an enacted parable or prophetic sign of God’s judgment on it. His action of overturning tables signified its impending destruction. But why such doom on the Temple? It was because it had become an idolatrous substitution for the kingdom of God. The economic and political life of the city of Jerusalem revolved around the Temple. It had become a religious institution with economic and political power for the hierarchy that controlled its operations in collaboration with Roman authorities. Instead of being a house of prayer for all nations, it had become a den of robbers (Mark 11:17). Jesus went to Jerusalem to proclaim the kingdom of God and pronounce judgment on all that went on there in the name of religion. Given the realities of Jerusalem politics, it is not difficult to imagine how dangerous such a mission in Jerusalem would be for Jesus. It is no wonder that we have hints in the gospels that Jesus sought hiding places in and around Jerusalem. Someone like Judas was needed to show the authorities where Jesus was hiding (John 18:1-3). This makes it absolutely clear that Jesus was not seeking to be killed.

One must conclude from this discussion, that Jesus went to Jerusalem with his eyes wide open; he was not taken by surprise. At the midpoint of the Gospel of Mark, the reader begins to hear Jesus repeatedly foretelling his own suffering and death (Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:33-34). Even if these announcements reflect the later theological perspective and experience of the post-Easter church, as critical scholarship has tended to view them, there is no need to dismiss them entirely as the creation of the gospel writers. Jesus no doubt had a sense of what the national, political, and religious climate of Jerusalem was like. Even while in Galilee he faced several threats on his life (Mark 3:6; Luke 4:29). Jesus knew that Herod Antipas had earlier executed John the Baptist (Luke 9:7-9). Therefore it is highly probable that Jesus anticipated the same fate that had befallen John.

If that is the case, there is no reason to doubt that Jesus reflected on the meaning and the direction of his mission in light of the possibility of his own death. Jesus came to the realization that in order for him to remain faithful to his mission of proclaiming and living out the kingdom of God, he may very well face a violent death. And it may be that it was precisely through his own violent death that the kingdom of God would come.

In all three passion predictions in Mark (8:31, 9:30-32, 10:33-34), there is not a single statement to the effect that the death of Jesus was to be an atonement for sin as such. Even the ransom statement in Mark 10:45 stops short of making the death a ransom for sin. Similarly, in the Lord’s Supper, the words of the institution, "Take, this is my body," and "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many" (Mark 14:22-24), do not quite state that the death of Jesus was for sin. In fact, since the Last Supper was intended by Jesus as a Passover meal, that may open up for us another way of looking at the self-understanding of Jesus. The Passover celebration was not particularly understood as atonement but as commemoration of the Exodus from Egyptian slavery. Thus the death of Jesus, at least in Mark, does not allow us to make a case for atonement for sin. If anything, it points in the direction of an eschatological liberation or emancipation, much like Jesus’ initial announcement in his Nazareth sermon (Luke 4:16-30), with echoes of Jubilee themes from Isaiah 61:1-2.

To conclude, Jesus may very well have viewed his own violent death as a probability, but not because it was divinely foreordained as atonement for sin but because human beings, whether Israel or Gentiles, seemed poised religiously and politically to respond violently to the message and program that he represented. Thus Jesus accepted that probability and sought to interpret it as part of the coming of the kingdom of God.

But there is still something very puzzling here—the cry of Jesus on the cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mark 15:34). Many have interpreted this to mean that God did indeed turn his back on his Son as the penalty for all the sins of the world. This so-called "cry of dereliction," along with the prayer in Gethsemane, was Jesus’ desperate response to the ultimate punishment of separation from God. But if this is Mark’s meaning, it is at best less than explicit. Nothing in the gospels suggests God’s wrath against Jesus.

A better alternative would be to acknowledge that this word of Jesus is a quote from the opening line of Psalm 22, which is a lament psalm (see Patterns for Life: Structure, Genre, and Theology in Psalms) Some interpreters have gone so far as to say that when Jesus said the opening line of Psalm 22, he really meant the whole psalm, which turns into praise about half way through. That may be taking it too far. Jesus does not die triumphantly as a heroic martyr. He dies in bitter anguish and turmoil. Luke’s omission of the cry is an indication that he did not understand it as a positive word. Furthermore, the context in Matthew and Mark precludes the positive interpretation in that the bystanders hear not a triumphant affirmation but a desperate cry for help.

We are left, then, with the option that the so-called cry of dereliction was an authentic and desperate cry of Jesus to God at the darkest moment of his life. Yet it cannot be taken to mean that God was in fact absent, or that Jesus despaired of God. After all, Jesus continues to claim God as "my God" and will not let him go. If this were a despairing cry, it would be a contradiction of the whole tenor of Jesus’ message about the presence of the kingdom of God even in the most unlikely circumstances. What is remarkable is that even in the hour of his greatest darkness Jesus still turned to God. It was a cry of heartache, pain, and tears. But it was still a cry to God. (See Sermon on Psalm 22)

We can see from this brief survey that Jesus anticipated his own violent death and sought to interpret it as part of his mission of proclaiming and living out the coming of the kingdom of God. It is also reasonable to conclude that at some point he came to the realization that if he proclaimed his message in Jerusalem, he would most likely suffer a violent death. This death is not in and of itself mandated and foreordained by God as atonement for sin arising out of the justice and wrath of God. Rather, it would be the result of sinful humanity’s idolatry of substituting social, political, and religious institutions for the kingdom of God. In his role as servant, he would give his life as a ransom for many in order to liberate humanity from such idolatry and call the "powers that be" to accept the new reality of the kingdom of God.

Jesus did not die as a disillusioned messiah. He died with the conviction that not even his own death was going to put a stop to the kingdom of God, that the kingdom of God is even greater than his own life. In fact, he came to the place where he believed that if the kingdom of God meant his own death, he would accept the bitter cup and drink it. Even though the following saying of Jesus is colored by Johannine theology, it contains an authentic core that goes back to Jesus because it is also attested in the synoptic gospels. Jesus said, "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life" (John 12:24-24; cf. Mark 8:34-36). Jesus died with the conviction that his own death was not the end of God’s story. The eternal God was still there even if surrounded with complete darkness.

Conclusion

Now we begin to understand the primary purpose of Jesus. His mission was to proclaim the message of the kingdom of God everywhere, including Jerusalem, even if there were the possibility of his own death. Would he go there and challenge the status quo for the sake of the kingdom of God at the cost of death? He determined to obey God regardless of the cost. And we know the cost was unimaginably great.

Yet, this was not an easy decision for Jesus, as the Gethsemane story indicates. He prayed, "Let this cup pass from me, but let not my will but your will be done." Jesus was not facing this with stoic heroism, with an unemotional, stone-faced, calm and cool realism. He was crying out to God with loud cries and tears. And there would be a time when in the darkest moment of his life he would cry out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" But in the end he would die with one other word on his lips: "Into your hands I commit my spirit." That’s what it meant for him to be the anointed one, the Messiah, the Son, who remained faithful to the point of death, trusting himself into the hands of the Father Almighty, who can bring life out of death.

The New Testament witness is that God did indeed vindicate his son by raising him from the dead. The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone (Mk 12:10).

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-Jirair Tashjian, Copyright © 2013, Jirair Tashjian
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