Saturday, March 11, 2006

Craddock Notes on Preaching the Death of Jesus

NOTE: I gave up on making these complete sentences. They are notes. Just notes. So they look like notes. There's a little of me in here too, btw.

Preaching the Death of Jesus
The first task of preaching the death of Jesus is to find a way to give it meaning and open the doors of the church to gentiles without kicking the Jews in the groin. The ultimate task is to interpret the execution of Jesus – a shameful death as a convicted criminal, a demeaning death – as having some sort of benefit to the followers.

In some parts of Appalachia, people place the cross on their Christmas tree as an ornament. This seems strange to some of us; not so strange to others. There’s a old picture of the crèche in a barn – a lantern nestled in the beams in a barn throws a shadow of a cross on the baby Jesus. Yes, this is a participation in the concept of “Eternal Time” and yet -- it collapses the story to be like a single event; without understanding the mystery of that event in and of itself.

The view of some is that the Gospel begins only at Golgotha – with the stories of Jesus just a preface. Rudolph Bultmann – in his treatment of the earlier gospel stories, calls then a preface. Not Craddock – do not focus on the cross and resurrection OR the life and teaching as if you can separate them. Are you preaching anything less than the gospel if you preach only one or the other? Craddock sees the entire gospel as a continuum – you must preach the entirety of the gospel, not just the cross. The cross can lead you into violence – where the cross is preached too much then there are marginalized people. Some use the cross as an excuse for abuse – Abram “Preachers Present Arms” – chill you to the bone. If you really love your enemy you will shoot them because they live under a oppressive government. Can give impetus to violence.

Treatment of pain – Jesus endured the cross, so you can endure this – other is doctors afraid to prescribe.

Make too little of it – crystal cathedral – architect said in a lecture about the instruction was that there was to be no crosses inside or out. If you want your church to succeed, don’t preach the cross – people want success

God without wrath…. Christ without a cross. “Social Justice” – Niebuhr.

No theories of atonement, washed in the blood, but to build on the text exegetically. No atonement theories. Deal with the text, do no conflate scriptures. Dominate is Paul – and central is the cross. John 3:16 has no cross in it, but it’s easy to go there if you are full of Paul. It’s not what John is saying.

Luke, John, and Paul.

Paul interprets everything by the cross – Hebrews is the second most influential – but by a priestly, liturgical way.

Paul uses Christ crucified. No empty cross.

Israel – Christ – Church The middle of time with Camelot in the middle. From the temptation to Judas, there is no Satan in the ministry of Jesus in Luke. Luke has a favorable view of the temple – no other gospel does. There in the temple – healing at the gate of the temple. The temple is it. The synagogue is central – continuity with Israel. Different than John. In this continuity, it is necessary for the Messiah must suffer and die.

Luke 24:44 -- this is what the risen Christ says. There is no doubt in Luke’s mind that the Law, the prophets and the Psalms that the Messiah must suffer. Isaiah 53 – the suffering servant is ISRAEL. Not a reference to a crucified Messiah according to the Jews.
1) referring to the way that true prophets are always treated – suffering at the hands of their own people. Elijah – healed a Syrian army officer, Elisha – healed a Syropheonician woman.
2) a belief that their would be one that would be the righteous one – that would bear on himself the wickedness – legend of the Just. Witness of the centurion -- Not Surely this man was innocent BUT the righteous one or the Just one. To bear at the risk of their own life the suffering of others. Noble death. (cmp. Scapegoat stuff)
3) Luke MAY have in mind the suffering servant. Isaiah 53. Who would tell his stories? Who would recite his genealogy? But we know this because of the story of the Ethiopian eunuch. Who would declare his genealogy? About whom does the prophet speak? Of himself – or is he speaking secretly to me? That’s why people read their bibles – they are looking for their own name.
4) There is no atonement theory about Jesus in the writing of Luke.

What then do you preach? If you preach the cross, you are not preaching Luke. To all nations that you will preach – that repentance and forgiveness of sin is the gospel. Luke contains more repentance than any other book. Ignorance is there as well. God has given the repentance from sin for us to preach.

Mark has agony in the garden, so does Matthew. Luke doesn’t – knelt and prayed. Scribes add the drops of blood? Luke has Psalm 31 on the cross, not Psalm 22. When they had done everything that the scriptures had said, then they killed him. Resurrection and ascension fulfill the story.

In Luke, he says take up your cross everyday – that the cross is not dying but living. You cannot die everyday, but you can live for others everyday.

John’s Gospel
A child can swim in John and an Elephant can drown.

Pre-existence – opposite 180 degrees from Paul. He was NOT empty – he had NOT emptied himself. From Glory to Glory in John because in John’s gospel, salvation is by revelation. It is life eternal to know God. Jesus came into the world to reveal God. God is revealed by Jesus – seven signs then speeches. One time the speech comes first then the sign.

Come and see – invitation to faith.

The cross is the way the Jesus leaves – he becomes “lifted up” – revelation of God – what is God like – look at Jesus. Secondly, there will be a comforter who will be with you. The cross is the means by which he goes back to God.

Two expressions that speak of his death:
Lifted up

Two occasions chpt 10 and chapt 15 speak of his death as a Noble death. Some find there some sort of atonement theory.

Key significant event among the Jews that gives John his view is the Passover. Throughout the gospel, it was Passover time. Passover lamb is not a sin lamb but a liberation lamb – Jesus is the Passover lamb. Jesus launches the new exodus – the liberation from sin. I will draw all people to myself.

Paul does not use Passover, but Yom Kippur.
Obedient to death – as unto death. Completion of his own work.

Paul somehow is completed with Christ – I want to share in the story. For me to live is Christ. Easy to preach these sermons as a romantic thing, but they are big texts. Sermon – “the view from Mount Nebo” – great sermon of American pulpits. I preach Christ crucified. Christ is not gotten by philosophies etc, but through the cross. Central to the sacraments in his liturgy. Center of 1 Corinthians 11 is the cross. Center of baptisms, but center of his own life as well. Rare and powerful message.

Man in a lot of pain – beaten with rods and 5 times whipped. Night and a day hanging on a hunk of wood in the water. Stoned and left for dead. The Corinthians said that he was a poor speaker and he had contemptible appearance. As to one untimely borne – 4 times in Bible – three times in Old Testament – stillborn. Nickname – the monster? Totally unattractive. He longed for release from his body. What enables him to live like this is the cross. Use metaphors like legal language and economic terms, social terms – uses everything within reach.

Romans 3:25

Sin offering – goat
Scapegoat – Leviticus 16

Ritual – Christ is our Mercy Seat – and the Scapegoat 2 Cor 5: 21

Christ bearing the curse – Galatians 3:10 – 14

Paul never claims that HIS suffering will be redemptive. Close – Romans chapter 9. That I have unceasing sorrow and anguish for the people of Israel – I could almost wish myself to bear the curse if it would save the Jews – to be on the verge, but not quite there.

Story of a student who translated this passage – it was smooth. After class “What do you think about that?” “It’s unprofessional. You should never get that close.” Many years later – CEO of major company – “God just expects too much from ministers. I had to get out of it.” That’s what he mean by unprofessional – it requires too much.

Kiekegaard – Purity of Heart – see one thing. Thus, purity of heart is to will one thing, but to will one thing could not mean to will the world's pleasure and what belongs to it, even if a person only named one thing as his choice, since this one thing was one only by a deception. Nor could willing one thing mean willing it in the vain sense of mere bigness which only to a man in a state of giddiness appears to be one. FOR IN TRUTH TO WILL ONE THING, A MAN MUST WILL THE GOOD. This was the first, the possibility of being able to will one thing. But in order GENUINELY TO WILL ONE THING, A MAN MUST IN TRUTH WILL THE GOOD… If, then, a man in truth wills the Good, then HE MUST BE WILLING TO DO ALL FOR IT or HE MUST BE WILLING TO SUFFER ALL FOR IT.

The double-minded man stands at a parting of the ways, and sees there two apparitions: the Good, and the Good in its victory, or even in its victory through him. … With the eye of his senses he is not permitted to see the Good in victory. Only with the eye of faith can he strive after its eternal victory. Therein lies his double-mindedness. For as there is a double -- mindedness which divides up the nature of the Good which the Good has united for all eternity: so is his double -- mindedness of that sort that unites what the Good in time has set apart. The one double-minded person forgets the Eternal and on that account misuses time, the other misuses eternity.

You might be forgiven but there is always your trash lying around – sin is forgiven but you suffer the consequences of it.

Fred Craddock met Albert Schweitzer when he dedicated an organ at some Indiana University. Fred was a 21 year old student who had loaded up with questions -- wanted to ask a question about “The Historical Jesus.” The kind of question you ask as a student to let the other person how smart you are. You know that kind of question. Schweitzer said that You get to know Jesus by following him. He was 75 years old and much taller than Fred expected. Fuzzy face, Bushy hair. French accent. After the organ recital and lecture he said, “I Appreciate the hospitality of you people, I’d like to stay a while longer, but I can’t. There are people who need me at home – there are children and their mothers and fathers dying at home. I have to go. Would anyone go with me?” The smart assed questions died on Fred’s lips. Fred said, “Say what you will about Schweitzer’s liberal protestant theology – think what ever you want – but I have not even given up a meal.” Jesus’ life gave him something to follow – to sacrifice for.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I heard him recount this story and he claimed it was something that followed an organ dedication and recital at a church in Cleveland. I was a little suspicious because after such a long career Craddock claimed e had never told the story before, seemed a little unlikely. I checked it out and there isn't a word of truth to it, Schweitzer visited America just one time, there was no Cleveland recital, he toured an organ factory but there was no newspaper notice of any concert that Craddock could have seen. Check out Schweitzer's itinerary of the internet, this story doesn't fit the facts.