Jesus on the Cross Showed the Courage of the Lion of Judah
Nicolette Whittle, Kroonstad – Socrates and the common soldier seem to face death with greater courage than Christ, Fr Ron Rolheiser OMI suggests in his column “Who wants to die like Jesus?” (June 12).
This premise may leave the reader perplexed: who could be more courageous than the Saviour?
Theological proportionality differs between the acceptance of death by humanity and that of the choice made by divinity incarnated as human.
In the first instance, gracious acceptance of a tragic fate is made by a human with personal responsibility alone. In the latter, Jesus knowingly chose messianic martyrdom with redemptive responsibility for all humanity.
As Jesus faced the prospect of death in Gethsemane, many factors differentiated his experience from that of humanity.
Firstly, the Saviour had full knowledge of the detailed suffering his death would entail (Is 53:1-12, Mt 17:12, Lk 9:22). During his passion, he would face the full force of Satan and the power of darkness (Lk 22:53).
To Jesus fell the task of saving each of us from the righteous judgment our inherited sinful state should have accorded us (Is 53:12). The righteous wrath of God fell on him instead of on us: to the point that the presence of God the Father deserted him (Ps 22:2, Mt 27:46).
During his passion Christ was, as it were, made the sacrificial goat on which the sins of all the people were placed (Lev 16:7-10).
None except Jesus can lay claim to being the Redeemer from sin. None but Christ has faced a death while confronting both the power of darkness and the burden of every sin upon him. In the words of Norman Clayton’s hymn “For All My Sin”: “Oh what a Saviour is mine!”
Those such as various saints and the moribund who face death with calm often do so fortified by the example and grace won for them by Jesus during the Passion.
During the time of acceptance of the cup of suffering in the garden, the anguish of Jesus was so great that his sweat fell to the ground like drops of blood (Lk 22:44). This did not show human cowardice—rather the reverse.
Courage is the state of mind that makes us willing to lose something dear to us for the sake of a greater purpose. Courage may be defined as the absence of fear. Far greater courage may be defined as the overcoming of fear.
During the time Jesus overcame great natural fear for his greater love and compassion for us, he showed the magnificence of God made man.
Jesus showed the courage of the Lion of Judah (Rev 5:5, Gen 49:9-10).