Working the Deep Magic


Yesterday’s Catch really got me going. I’ve always wondered about the passion of Christ. Every time it is acted out in film or theater, everything seems so drummed-up and confused. Pilate thinks he’s crucifying Jesus. The Jews think they are crucifying Jesus. The Roman soldiers think they are crucifying Jesus, and the disciples think they are crucifying Jesus by running away. When in fact, God was pouring out His wrath against sin on His Son in order to have mercy on the whole world. And who knew that? Nobody, except Jesus.

Jesus knew why He was going to the cross. It was the Father’s will. It wasn’t about politics. It wasn’t about the social order or disorder. It wasn’t about religion. It was about something else entirely. Follow any one of those other threads and you miss the point. The only point that really makes sense here is Jesus dying for the sins of the world.

Like my favorite scene from Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, when Jesus is laboring through the streets of Jerusalem, bruised and bloodied with the heavy cross on His back, He passes His mother in the crowd and says, “Look! I am making all things new!” What? Sure doesn’t look like that.

Every time I see the passion played out I wonder about this. So many people in the dark as to what was really going on. I doubt there was anyone at the cross that day thinking, That man up there is dying for my sins right now. Everyone was thinking about everything except the one thing that was really being accomplished. That’s why Jesus said, “It is finished.” He didn’t just mean He was dying. He meant the work He came to do was done. Mission accomplished.

Pilate standing before Jesus saying, “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” is truly laughable. Jesus had already told Pilate His kingdom was not of this world. Pilate was clearly not in control here.

Pilate, you think you are controlling this moment when in fact you are so far from the truth. My Father has had this day in His mind before the foundation of the world. You guys are all just doing His bidding. God is working something way beyond what you see here. My kingdom is not of this world. My kingdom is stepping into your kingdom and working the Deep Magic* into your souls.

You all think you are killing me. Well you are, but for different reasons from what you think. You don’t realize it, but you are all killing me for and with your sin. You don’t know this now, but you will some day.

This, in fact, is the closest thing to the truth of what really happened that day: we all killed Jesus. It was our sin that put Him there. God arranged it for this. In the end, all the politics, religion and culture fall away, and there is just you and me and Jesus there at the fulcrum of history. That is all that matters. You and me and Jesus. Do you get it?

I remember Mel Gibson insisting, in the making of The Passion of the Christ, that in the closeup of the nailing of the hands and feet of Jesus to the wood of the cross, it would be his own hands in that scene holding the hammer and pounding the nails. He got it.

* Thanks to C. S. Lewis for the “Deep Magic” phrase.

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3 Responses to Working the Deep Magic

  1. Mark D Seguin says:

    Thank God for the Deep Magic that I know that I know, I don’t deserve, yet so thankful for it!

  2. John A Fagliano says:

    God knew that if he sacrificed heaven and came to earth the lost humans would kill Him. He wouldn’t have to make that happen, it just would. Jesus fulfilled the law. If it’s an eye for an eye then it’s a crucifixion for a crucifixion. Those who murdered Jesus deserved to be crucified in turn according to the law. Jesus said I will stand in your place and receive the punishment for you. It was and act of love and forgiveness showed to those who did not deserve it. It was for their restoration. To change those who would kill Christ into those who would love Him. This is what He did for all mankind including those who did not want Him to die. Like Peter who denied Him, his sins were wiped clean too. And so were yours and mine. It was God saying I will change my own law to where I can stand in someone’s place so they will not have to pay what is due on their sin. This was His plan before He ever made any law. And what He rescued us all from was death, the wages of sin, so that we may be resurrected and be Like Him. One day we will not sin ever again. By His death, He rescues us from the penalty of sin. By His resurrection, He rescued us FROM SIN ITSELF. He is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Not just the penalty, but the sin.

    And that is what Grace is.

    • jwfisch says:

      Amen, John. A beautiful statement of grace. I’m not so sure He changed His law as much as He made it clear from the beginning (Cain & Abel) that He would accept a substitute for sin. All those bulls, and rams, and sheep, and doves, and then there was the ram caught in the thicket for Abraham. Always a substitute. So that when Jesus came, it would all make sense.

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