'The significance of Jesus being truly innocent is that when the collective guilt of society is placed on him, and when he is crucified for the sins of the world, it is a once-for-all sacrifice which is effective eternally, in all times and in all places. The insight here is that people can only be freed from their compulsion to scapegoat others when something decisively breaks that cycle, and that something, within the Christian tradition, is the cross of Jesus. The spiral of death is disrupted by the sacrificial death of Jesus, and those who encounter that disruption are given the capacity to enter into a new way of living where life, and not death, is dominant. Those who know that their sins have been forgiven by Jesus’ death, can discover that they no longer need to offload their guilt onto scapegoats, and so they can start to see new ways of dealing with human sin that take us in the direction of eternal life, rather than death. So the person who has embraced eternal life in Christ Jesus will see pathways to restoration and rehabilitation in others, where many will see just evil and danger. The person who has been born again from above, will see possibilities of forgiveness and new life where others see just punishment and death. The person who has been baptised into Christ’s body, and who shares in the spilled blood of the cross at communion, will know that they are a sinner saved by grace, and that they should not judge others, lest they too be judged. The person who believes that in Jesus, God became flesh, and died and was raised, will know that the potential for new life can emerge from even the darkest of lives,and so they will resist any attempt to write off anyone as beyond redemption.'
From a sermon by Simon Woodman, preached at Bloomsbury on 13 May 2018
Listen to the sermon here:
Read the script here: