Conversations with Poppi: Crucifixion and Atonement

Poppi: What do you want to talk about?

Solveig: I want to talk about the crucifixion.

P: Do you want me to just start talking about the crucifixion, or …

S: Yes. And then I’ll interrupt and ask questions.

P: Well, Jesus was crucified because, as people said, he made himself out to be the Son of God.

S: Well, yes, he was crucified because of that. I’m sure if he had his choice, he would have refused to be crucified but …

P: No.  That’s not true.

S: Well, yes, he did it for us.  But then, if he had his choice, he would have done something for us that would make him not die.

P: Well, that’s probably not right either.  Remember the night before he was crucified? He was in the garden praying. He had just had his last supper with the disciples, and he went off by himself. … And Jesus prayed, “Father if it be possible, let this cup pass from me,” but then, “Not what I want, but what you want.” You see, the thing about jesus was that there really was nothing to his life but obedience to his Father, as he was called God.

S: I think we talked about this a while ago …

P: The thing is, Jesus always said that having to die for us belongs to what he had been sent for.  That was clear to him from the beginning.  Now, why do you suppose that is so?

S: God wanted Jesus to show everybody else about him. Even if he knew that Moses would tell everyone about him, he wanted Jesus to be his messenger.

P: So why would that have to involve dying?

S: For there really to be a communication between you and God, you have to be able to meet him, not just sit around all day praying to him. Or … in praying, you do have a communication with him, but you don’t have any actual moments of speaking to him; most of the time, he is not talking about you.  You might think he is talking about you, but you might just be thinking it.  But when you actually see him face to face, he will tell you the details, and then he will use Jesus as his messenger.

P: Yes.  But why does that mean that Jesus has to die?  That is what we started talking about, remember?

S: Because God wanted Jesus to … You can’t talk to God unless you are in heaven, and what’s when you die.

P: Aha!

S: I was just trying to say that.

P: Okay.

S: If you understood what I was saying … Go on.

P: Well, there is another way of saying it.

S: All right.

P: Think about love.  When you love someone, you give yourself up for that someone.  Now, I love you, but I can’t give myself up altogether for you, because then I’d be dead and I wouldn’t do you any good.

S: Here … listen!  You made me think of something.  You made me think of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, as a matter of fact.  You know the book, right?  You have a witch, and she says, “But you are making a very strange decision, because when you are dead, what is there to stop me from doing harm to this boy?” In some way, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is definitely based on the Bible, don’t you think?

P: Definitely.

Robert W. Jenson, Conversations with Poppi About God

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