In last Sunday’s video series Jesus the Forgiving Victim, James Alison proposed to us that God is not violent. Violence comes from human beings, us! Alison offered a powerful illustration suggesting that experiencing God’s forgiveness can often change our lives.
In the next session, Alison begins with the story where Jesus heals the Gerasene demoniac (Mark 5:1-20). He interprets this as an example of the human tendency to scapegoat others. Identifying of an oddball helps us feel better about ourselves in comparison.
Then Alison tells a story about Fernando, who in school is identified as the “class fairy.” When Fernando leaves the school, the other students feel bereft of someone to put down. When Fernando returns, however, he does not resume his former role, he claims to have forgiven them and suggests that they might try a game different from scapegoating.
These illustrations refer to Jesus. God did not make Jesus die on the cross; we did. As Caiaphas famously quoted to the Sanhedrin, “It is better that one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed.” Jesus accepted this role, then forgave his persecutors. Barry