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)

The atonement of Christ, as described in the New Testament, is extremely rich and robust in meaning; its significance is manifold and multifaceted. Because of this, in the writings of the apostles and throughout the history of the church, many different analogies, metaphors, conceptual frameworks, and ideas have been used to explain the importance of the atoning acts of Christ. These modes of explanation are usually called “models.” 

An “atonement model” is as an individual explanation of the atonement that hits on one major dimension of the redemptive work of Christ. Some models use juridical categories, others use cultic/ritualistic categories, still others financial/economic categories, and some even use military categories. No model is exhaustive on its own, for they each simply form a part of the greater whole. Models of the atonement are not mutually exclusive but are meant to be brought together and held together—like individual pieces that make up an elaborate puzzle or brush strokes that form a beautiful painting.
As we move along through this series, introspectively marching forth towards Good Friday—the somewhat neglected piece of the Paschal season—we will meditate together on different dimensions of the atonement. What we will find is that each facet of the reconciling, redemptive work of Christ follows a problem-solution structure; each model represents a divine solution to a universal human problem.
At certain times throughout this contemplative journey, we may feel like too much is being disclosed, that too much is being given away. We may be concerned that such a project is akin to building a tower to heaven. Are we attempting to comprehend the incomprehensible? Are we trying to explain the unexplainable? Though these concerns are understandable, there is no need to worry! For these models are simply shadows, like dim reflections in a mirror (1 Cor 13:12). The mystery of the cross of Christ and his resurrection from the dead will always remain in the scope of time:

“We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written:


‘“What no eye has seen,

what no ear has heard,

and what no human mind has conceived”—

the things God has prepared for those who love him.”’  (1 Cor 2: 6-9)

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