Universal or particular

Jesus died for all (Universal). Thank God. I also think Jesus died for males and for Jews (particular). We all betrayed Jesus, but the Scriptures and the creeds (not many names in there) tell us that Judas betrayed Jesus. Both are true, and in that sense Judas ‘acted for us’. Judas is the particular betrayer; we all universally betrayed Jesus.

Jesus was male, born of a woman, born under the law… so that he might redeem those who were born under the law… This makes his death have a very specific application for Jews. Now let me add what certainly is not explicitly written in Scripture, so I am going beyond Scripture (more of that below), to redeem males, masculinity, or maybe the perverted form of masculinity exhibited in patriarchy and dominance.

Why born a Jew? Because Jews were the problem… hang on, nothing anti-Semitic there, just hang on. They were the problem simply because they failed to be the solution. If we had a camp of people who were sick but there were no doctors able to come, we might well say the problem is ‘we have no doctors’… but the real problem is that sickness has gripped the camp. Sickness has gripped the world, a contagious disease, a pandemic is present throughout creation, and we can call it sin. The doctors though are not available… don’t blame them, they too are sick. Their (Israel’s) sickness was to make chosen to mean ‘them’ and ‘us’, to transform ‘life’ into ‘separation’, to failing to see that ‘we want to be like them (give us a king)’ means we are also ‘them’, that there is no effective ‘us’ but we are all in a mess together, hence Paul’s words ‘all (Jew and Gentile) have sinned and fallen short…’ of being truly human.

That is the strong ‘when’ to the cross. The Jews have to be set free, and the grace of God was to give them a clear generation gap to get on board with such statements as (to Jews) ‘there being no other name under heaven by which you may be saved’ – not Abraham, nor David, nor ‘I am of Israel’. Only in Jesus, the one who died for Jews. ‘Save yourself from this crooked and perverse generation’. There is salvation – in Jesus; salvation from the Romans and salvation for the sake of the world. A restored Israel and we have hope for the nations (Gentiles).

And I also think Jesus is male. Certainly not because of some superiority or creation order. And although I do not read the early chapters as history, history bears witness that the patriarchal nature of the fallen world is a source of deep distress. Maleness, as patriarchy, goes to the cross – maybe the last to be seen at the cross, the first to see the resurrection pushes us to consider that perspective? Jewishness goes to the cross for all divides are nailed there, with the biggest of all divides being revealed as an ultimate wrong (or at least inadequate) perception when the Temple curtain ripped in two. God is not behind the screen. God is with us. Emmanuel. The divide does not exist, and how could it for the two were united in Jesus, fully God, fully human?

Jesus came to his own, but his own did not receive him… yet a few chapters later we read that Jesus sat down with his own and ate with them; he put a towel round his waist and got down… washing the feet of his own. God with us, with those who can receive this God.

Yes, I do believe Jesus died for all. Yet there he is – male, Jewish flesh on the cross. He died that there might no longer be the divide that we who had the power to draw the lines that divide can continue to make. The sharp end of the cross should not be ignored, for in it is salvation for all.

Beyond Scripture? Not in the sense of seeking to understand a story that is unfolding, a story that takes us from Creation to New Creation. A story that presents the cross as the roadblock to total destruction; a halt in that path, and the opening of a new path, a new creation that we are not simply walking toward but one that is coming this way. Beyond the pages but within the story of Scripture.

A new creation is here. God is with us. Always was, was present in the cross, identified and embodied sin, embodied it in a concrete way, embodied flesh that used (fallenly created) privilege to exclude and divide, embodied that flesh in order to include and unite.

He died for Jews and males; he died for all.

2 thoughts on “Universal or particular

  1. I’m just going to lay this out there Martin, just going to say it. . . I’m tired of jerks. I know there are female jerks, way too many of them but it does seem like the male variety inflict an awful lot of damage on the earth, minorities, other peoples’ countries, human life and on and on. I’m tired of it. Cannot bear it at all anymore. Really. I can heartily say that a large percentage of women are tired of it. Children? Other species? The land?

    That is not to say there aren’t great men around. Of course there are (go ahead, give yourself a pat on the back, I include you in that group of great men). But somehow, for some reason, the jerks get exalted, affirmed and empowered. Why are they revered? Why are they looked up to? Why are they given power and wealth that they rarely deserve? Sigh. And then, of course, we systematize their power and call it patriarchy. Such an evil thing. Time for it to be ushered off the stage of history if we hope for a future.

    Read some research the other day. The way men are taught to suppress emotions means they ultimately lack empathy but also lose the capacity for joy. Interesting eh. So perhaps it is a matter of socialization for individual males. But it must also be something in all of us that so many are dazzled by displays of power, control, force and violence. That so many are attracted to that and affirm and uphold it.

    I have no answers but I wish there were some. Would be great if the church actually modeled a healthy and well socialized masculinity but it often, very often, does not. So still no answers. But I am utterly weary of it all.

    1. Weary indeed!! I hope I laid it out clearly enough in the post, but it came to me as quite a revelation that Jesus was male, to crucify patriarchy… Is the new creation, that we are supposed to welcome, causing sight of everyone without labels also a feminised creation. I think it is – either it is or it is in such contrast to what we have here it appears as feminised.

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