Good Friday- Conclusion

Good Friday Meditations: Conclusion & Summary

After meditating on individual dimensions of the atonement, it might be wise to try to take a quick glimpse at the picture as a whole—as blurry and imperfect as that picture may be for us in the scope of time. It is immensely valuable to come up close to the canvas of the cross and resurrection, taking the time to contemplate the meaning of the particular facets of the redemptive work of Christ. It is also important, however, that we don’t lose the forest for the trees. For the atonement is a great synthesis. It is a magnificent wonder that demands to be appreciated for all of its glory, even though we will never comprehend its full meaning in this life.    
Summary of Models

Suffering Love: 

The atonement as divine solidarity and participation in human pain and suffering. The

God of love and compassion is compelled to embrace our pain—suffering with us and for us.

Selfless Substitution: 

The passion of Christ as the act of God standing in our place, absorbing our guilt,

and taking the natural consequences of our sins upon himself as our selfless substitute. 

Loving Sacrifice: 

The cross as a divine sacrifice and payment for the sins of the world. 

Union & Participation:

The atonement as the inauguration of a grace-infused process by which we are given the strength—mediated by the Spirit of God—to overcome the power of sin and corruption, so that we may become renewed in the image of Christ Jesus. 

Christus Victor: 

The redemptive work of Christ as the historical inauguration of the divine, eternal, cosmic victory over the powers of darkness. It is the commencement of the renewal and redemption of all human institutions and of creation as a whole.

Moral Influence:

The atonement gives us both the motivation and the example that we need to follow God.


The atonement of Christ, in its vast beauty and richness, speaks to all human beings at all times. Here, an answer can be found to every human problem and every temporal concern. For this God in Christ is the God of all people and the redeemer of all people. As this Paschal season nears its end, let us imitate and reflect the gratitude of the Apostle Paul in his epistle to the Roman church, meditating on his most memorable doxology: 

“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
    How unsearchable his judgments,
    and his paths beyond tracing out!
‘“Who has known the mind of the Lord?
    Or who has been his counselor?”’
 ‘“Who has ever given to God,
    that God should repay them?“’
For from him and through him and for him are all things.
    To him be the glory forever! Amen.” (Rom 11:33-36)


Good Friday Meditations- Moral Influence

Good Friday Meditations: Moral Influence

Our final contemplation on the atonement of Christ deals with the problem of our lack of love for God and our lack of motivation to follow him. This model is focused on human feelings, desires, and affections. Jesus Christ himself directly connected affection to obedience: “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15). The model of Moral Influence is often credited to a somewhat wonky medieval theologian by the name of Peter Abelard, but the main gist of this view is found all throughout Scripture.

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Good Friday Meditations- Christus Victor

Good Friday Meditations: Christus Victor

Today’s meditation on the atonement of Christ, like our first reflection in this series, confronts the universal problem of evil, pain, and suffering. Whereas our first model dealt with human suffering on a personal and individual level, our model today deals with suffering on a universal and cosmic level.The focus here is on both corporate evil (large-scale injustices, oppression, violence, coercion, greed, exploitation) and natural evil (disease, sickness, natural disasters, hostility in the animal kingdom). Christus Victor was the predominate model of the early church, and it is emphasized throughout the writings of the New Testament.


Good Friday Meditations- Union & Participation

Good Friday Meditations: Union & Participation

Our fourth contemplative reflection upon the atonement of our Lord tackles the problem of universal human corruption. We have intentionally started with models that highlight the lavish grace of God so that we can then introspectively move towards the Christian call to a holy and righteous life in Christ. This is the sequence that is repeated in the various letters of the Apostle Paul. The model that we are meditating on today can be traced back to St. Irenaeus, who elaborated on the idea that Christ recapitulated all things in his work of redemption (Eph 1:10). 


Good Friday Meditations- Loving Sacrifice

Good Friday Meditations: Loving Sacrifice

Our next Paschal reflection follows along the same path as our previous meditation. In fact, for some Christian traditions, this understanding of the atonement serves as an alternative, or replacement, for the model upon which we just reflected. Consequently, the human problem remains the same here: the universal experience of guilt. The sacrifice model is probably the most popular and most common conception of the atonement found throughout the history of the church, and it is the central theme of the book of Hebrews.  


Good Friday Meditations – The Selfless Substitute

Good Friday Meditations: The Selfless Substitute

Our second contemplative reflection on the atonement of Christ revolves around the universal human experience of guilt. This model was popularized by the Protestant Reformers, but nascent forms of it can be seen in some of the Early Church Fathers—like in the writings of St. Augustine, for example. In Scripture, this view of Christ’s atoning work is most clearly presented in the book of Isaiah and the various epistles of Paul. 


Good Friday Meditations – Suffering Love

Good Friday Meditations: Suffering Love

Our first introspective reflection on the atonement of Christ deals with the problem of human pain and suffering. This atonement model was developed in the 20th century, though traces of it can certainly be found throughout the history of the church and also—as we will see—in both the writings of the prophets and the apostles. In some sense, it found its fullest and clearest expression in the midst of the horrors of World War II, as many of the 20th century theologians who advanced this understanding of the atonement (like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, for example) were directly shaped and formed by the terrors of the holocaust.


Good Friday Meditations – Intro

The cross of Christ and his resurrection from the dead lie at the very heart of the Christian faith. Christians all around the globe prayerfully meditate on the meaning of these awe-inspiring events during the weeks leading up to Easter Sunday. This is a time, a season, to introspectively reflect upon the significance of the atonement of Christ. Atonement (“at-one-ment”) is about reconciliation. This means that the cross of Christ and the resurrection of our Lord have to do with God’s cosmic plan to reconcile the world to himself:
“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Cor 5:14-19)