Jesus did not suffer passively from the world in which he lived, but incited it against himself by his message and the life he lived. Nor did his crucifixion in Jerusalem come upon him as the act of an evil destiny, so that one could speak of a heroic failure, as heroes have often failed and yet remained heroes to posterity. According to the gospels, Jesus himself set out for Jerusalem and actively took the expected suffering upon himself. By proclaiming the righteousness of God as the right of those who were rejected and without grace to receive grace, he provoked the hostility of the guardians of the law. By becoming a ‘friend of sinners and tax-collectors’, he made their enemies his enemies. By claiming that God himself was on the side of the godless, he incited the devout against him and was cast into the godlessness of Golgotha.
The more the mysticism of the cross recognizes (Jesus’ active seeking of the cross), the less it can accept Jesus as an example of patience and submission to fate. The more it recognizes his active suffering, the less it can make him the archetype of its own weakness. To the extent that men in misery feel his solidarity with them, their solidarity with his sufferings brings them out of their situation. If they understand him as their brother in their sufferings, they in turn do not become imitators of his sufferings until they accept his mission and actively follow him. (Jurgen Moltmann in The Crucified God. Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 1993, p.51)
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Lent 1 with Moltmann
This Lent I'll be posting a series of my favorite quotes from Jurgen Moltmann's The Crucified God. Here Moltmann shows that Christ was far from a passive victim in his death, and that this means that his followers cannot be passive victims of the world in our own sufferings, taking up our cross and following him. His suffering is not in that sense a mere moral lesson in (misguided) passivity, but transforms our suffering by bringing us out of our circumstances.