I don’t think that the crucifixion was inevitable. I don’t think it necessarily had to go this way.
God sent his Son to be incarnate and live as one of us. Jesus was sent to reconcile humanity with God, to repair the breech, to lead us back to unity with God, and to enable us to share in the hopes and dreams and desires of God for his vast creation. God doesn’t choose to play us like puppets, so there had to be some freedom and flexibility in the plan, so that God could adapt to the human element, to the ways that we might act or react or change the plan. That doesn’t mean that we had to end up killing him—but that’s what we did.
I don’t think that the crucifixion was inevitable—but it was very likely, knowing who God is, and knowing who we are. We humans have an innate tendency to be selfish. We look after our own interests. Our tendency is to look out for number one, and to be suspicious of anyone or anything that threatens our power, our position, or our possessions. It’s a system that works. It’s not a system that is good, but it works because it is predictable and reliable.
Jesus came to break this system.
Jesus came to tell us about a more excellent way. And he didn’t just come to tell us with his mouth, but with his whole body and through everything that he did and the people he hung out with. He could have been part of the political system, he could have gotten in good with the religious system—but he didn’t. Instead he came to break the system. He came to challenge and question and confuse and confound and to beat up the scribes and the lawyers and the religious leaders with their own law because he knew it better than they did. He came, asking the hard questions about what justice, and mercy, and grace, and love really look like and act like and feel like. Jesus threatened the system and so the system fought back in the only way that it knows how. We didn’t have to end up killing him—but that’s what we did.
Because, at the end of the day, that’s who we are. We make the selfish choices. We perpetuate systems that aren’t fair, but that work because just enough people get what they want, they can justify taking it away and keeping it away from others. We made the choice to kill the Lord of Life because that’s who we are.
But—we call this day “Good” Friday because of the other person in the equation. God knows humanity. God knows humanity thoroughly. And even if the crucifixion wasn’t part of the original plan, God wasn’t done with us yet. Despite our pettiness, our fear, our cruelty. Despite humanity staying true to our worst instincts, God stayed true to his best nature. God kept on being God and that means bringing hope out of darkness, bringing freedom out of captivity, bringing redemption out of death. Even while we were yet sinners, Christ Jesus chose to die for us, and in so doing, turned our ultimate act of betrayal into a means for achieving the reunion that he came to accomplish. God loved us—and loves us—so deeply that our own attempts to ruin it were doomed to failure because there is nothing that you or I or anyone else can do that is bad enough to make God stop loving us. God’s capacity for love is greater than our capacity for sin.
I don’t think the crucifixion was inevitable—but it was likely, and I suppose it’s not surprising knowing the way we are. Good Friday is the day that humanity failed. We failed because we closed our eyes and minds and hearts to God’s message of love and truth and peace. We failed because we thought the way to stop God from challenging us and challenging our systems was to kill. We failed because there is nothing that we can do to make God stop—to make God stop loving us and calling us back to him.
Today is the day that we failed—but God wasn’t done with us yet.
God isn’t done with us yet.
Thanks be to God.