Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Jesus on the cross 1
"The scandal of the cross was thus not simply that Jesus had been put to death as a criminal, but that the particular death that he suffered was the most barbaric that could be devised. Moreover, the barbaric death had involved the display of his naked body in public - the final, utter degradation. Christians, not unnaturally, have shied away from this aspect of Christ's suffering: they have no inhibitions about portraying the blood, caused by the crown of thorns and the spear-thrust, for these proclaim the truth that Christ's blood was shed for us; but they have shrunk from portraying the nakedness of Christ - the modest loin cloth which they add to his body conceals the shame that was an integral part of crucifixion. but the early Christians were very much aware of this as an essential part of the scandal of the cross. One second-century writer, Melito, Bishop of Sardis, wrote a Homily on the Passion which includes these lines:
'He who hung the earth is hanging;
he who fixed the heavens has been fixed;
he who fastened the universe has been fastened to a tree ...
O unprecedented murder! Unprecedented crime!
The Sovereign has been made unrecognizable by his naked body,
and is not even allowed a garment to keep him from view.
That is why the lights of heaven turned away,
and the day was darkened.'"
All taken from Not Ashamed of the Gospel: New Testament Interpretations of the Death of Christ, by Morna D. Hooker (Professor at the University of Cambridge)