You Can’t Kill a Sinless Man

This week I’ve been blazing through Greg Boyd’s The Crucifixion of the Warrior God so that I could be prepared for the lessons he’d be teaching tonight at my alma mater Spring Arbor University. There was one paragraph in particluar that blew my mind and gave me theological goosebumps. While Boyd reflects on Jesus’ death on the cross, he says,

What the forces of evil apparently did not consider was that while the Son of God had entered a world that was indeed under their jurisdiction, Jesus had kept himself free of their oppressive authority by remaining sinless (John 14: 30; cf. 8: 34). Hence, while Jesus could be killed, for he was indeed human, he was the one human the lord of death (Heb 2: 14) could not justly kill, and thus the one human who could not be held captive to death (Acts 2: 24). Moreover, as the last Adam and the generator and new representative of humanity (Rom 5: 15–21; 1 Cor 15: 22, 44–49; Eph 2: 14–18), Jesus’s unjust death served to cancel out all of humanity’s covenant breaking, which is why Paul proclaims that everything that stood against us, empowering Satan to lord over us, was nailed to the cross when Jesus died (Col 2: 13–14). Because of this, humanity is now incorporated into Christ, which means we share in Christ’s perfect, right relationship with the Father in the power of the Spirit. Hence, Paul boldly declares that just as we all participated in the unfaithfulness of the first Adam, so too all humans now participate in the faithfulness of the second Adam (Rom 5: 18; 1 Cor 15: 22; 2 Cor 5: 17).

As a pastor I always fear preaching on Easter and Christmas. They’re the days new people show up to hear the age old story from the age old perspectives. But I’m always hoping for God to show me a new angle to these popular stories—not for the sake of being new, but for the sake of deeper revelation into the fullness of what Christmas and Easter mean.

So when I come across an explanation of the cross that is so revealing that my skin reacts, I can’t help but celebrate. Of course this isn’t anything new—it simply pieces things together in a beautiful way that I haven’t let sink in before. This is, in a sense, the “deep magic” Aslan refers to in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. Satan has been tricked and broke the rules—for you can’t kill a sinless man.

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