Tuesday, Feb 26, 2019. We are in the middle of a discussion about the phrase “lamb of God”, about the question why forgiveness is necessary. Indeed, we talk about two main points here, one is forgiveness, the other is justification.
Forgiveness and justification are both linked to both behaviour and the state of the human life. We should talk about this: where does the concept come from? Is it valid for our human life? Is it intrinsically there, linked to life itself? Or is it brought to life by some external entity? What is its role to ethics and morale?
Before we go further into the discussion, let us recall the text we look at currently:
29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him [John the Baptist], and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son9 of God.” (from John 1)
First, forgiveness is a personal concept. It is linked to myself, to my life, my feelings, my experiences, my relationship to other people or to God. If someone acts, this will have an impact on my life. He or she can hurt me by words. I can be hurt physically. I can be hurt by many things. Forgiveness is a process in the middle of a relationship. When someone does what he should not do, or someone does not do what he should do, forgiveness is necessary. Without forgiveness there will be “guilt”, just describing the discrepancy between the demand of some action or non-action and the action itself. Guilt can make relationships difficult, so it has to be paid or forgiven.
Justification is a legal term which takes up the discrepancy between actions and requirement. Requirements can come in the form of rules, in the form of written or non-written laws and expectations. Requirements can be based on natural law, or on contract, or on other facts.
Justification means to meet some contract or to be in line with the rules or laws. I am justified if the contract is fulfilled.
The story the bible tells us about Jesus is about forgiveness, but also about justification. The contract it talks about is the word of God to Adam and Eve: if you eat from this tree you will surely die. The contract is established by the word of God, it is given. Now, Adam and Eve ate and they died. With them, mankind was given into life and death as we know it.
Now, the New Testament claims that Jesus with his death at the cross satisfied the contract given to mankind. He believed. He lived the way of trust and innocence. He did not have to die. But he was crucified, and God accepts his death as the completion of the contract given in the Garden of Eden. With him, we are justified, in faith and through faith. Here, the role of the “Lamb of God” is universal and complete. (Roland Potthast) ... further texts