Act 3 The Crucifixion

The culmination of the conflict saw the actions of all persons involved becoming determined, more and more, by the reactions of the other participants. For the interpreting and participating observer, this poses the danger of overlooking these connections or of confusing the intentional and the merely permitted. To avoid serious misinterpretations, the dramatic model therefore suggests that we differentiate clearly among the various groups and individuals acting in the event of the Crucifixion as well as among their diverse intentions.

The acts of the sinful people For a brief period of time, different groups that normally quarreled with one another (Pharisees, Sadducees, Zealots, Herodians -Jews and Gentiles) conspired against Jesus, effectively forming an alliance against him. What he had revealed about human nature, he was now accused of himself, and the dark forces he had exposed now fell back on him. Through the people's reactions, he indirectly became the victim of his own actions. He had unmasked lies and was untruthfully accused himself. He had exposed the mechanisms of violence and was put to death by violent means himself. He had openly pointed to the demonic spirit and was accused of having a demonic spirit himself (in other words, of being a blasphemer). He had announced judgment and was now judged himself. Thus he became an accursed person and an outcast, a bearer of sin and - in the modern sense of the term - a scapegoat.

Jesus' conduct Jesus did not respond to violence with further violence. In fact, he did not even resort to spiritual violence, to cursing or imprecatory prayer, as the prophet Jeremiah had done in a similar situation (Jer. 15: 5; 18: 18-32). His enemies' reaction rather drove him to put into practice his message of enemy love and nonviolence in his own life, and to impart a concrete shape to the dawning kingdom of God in this extreme situation. When he was crucified, he prayed for his enemies and interceded before God on their behalf (Luke 23: 34). His dedication even led him to identify with them in their misery, as his final words, spoken at the Last Supper, had already implied. Thus, despite the rejection it suffered, the dawning kingdom of God remained effective in Jesus' own dedication. And yet he died in dereliction.

The conduct of Jesus' "Abba" God was silent as his son was drawn into the utmost suffering and loneliness. Yet this does not mean that Jesus' victorious earthly opponents now suddenly became "instruments in the hand of God, agents and executors" of his divine will, as Barth and also Moltmann thought (Barth 1956: 239; Moltmann 1993). In the face of increasing resistance and human judgment, Jesus unswervingly maintained his claim that the true will of God comes to full expression only in his own actions. Yet the silence of this God gave rise to the question of whether God really is as Jesus had taught. On this the subsequent events had to pass judgment.

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