Again, “We adore God Who is love, who in Jesus Christ gave Himself for us, Who offered Himself on the Cross to expiate our sins, and through the power of this love, rose from the dead and lives in His Church. We have no God other than Him” (Pope Francis, 6/21/14).
Is there anything essential in the saving act of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels which is not present in the mere use of the words, “We are saved by the blood of the Cross,” or “Jesus suffered and died for our salvation, or Jesus “offered Himself on the Cross to expiate our sins?
Most Christians would say, “Yes. There is the love of God who is love for us, which is why the Father sent His Son to suffer and die to atone for our sins and save us. God’s love is why we are saved by the Cross, why, indeed, the Cross is the great symbol and reality of Divine Love.”
Jesus free acceptance of God’s will in Gethsemane on that Holy Thursday night—“Father, if possible, let this cup pass from me. Yet not my will, but yours be done—was the acceptance of the Father’s will that He be tortured and murder, because by the design of His Father Jesus’ agonizing death would atone for the sins of humanity, the sins of people would be forgiven, humanity would be redeemed and saved, and God would have His glory restored. But if Jesus did not say, “Your will be done,” and accept being tortured and murdered, then humanity would not be redeemed, sins would not be atoned for and forgiven, and the reconciliation between humanity and God would not take place.
When looked at closely there is no difference between this scenario for the redemption of humanity by Jesus and all the others. The necessary ingredient here, as in other interpretation of “Jesus saves,” is that Jesus must be tortured and murdered. Absent this, God will not permit salvation despite His love for humanity. Only if Jesus accepts mind-breaking pain, which terminates in His murder, does God’s love for humanity move God to forgive the sins of human beings, save them from eternal death and welcome them into a reconciled union with Him in His glory.
So, under this interpretation of “Jesus saves by the blood of His Cross” or “offered Himself on the Cross to expiate our sins,” it is Jesus’ acceptance as the will of the Father of lethal, brutal pain and execution at the hands of religious, political and military sociopaths that is the plan God designed, the condition precedent God set, in order to reconcile humanity with Himself and redeem human beings from sin.
Do think about it. And remember, the issue for a Christian is not whether “Jesus saves.” He does. The issue is how He saves?
-Emmanuel Charles McCarthy