'In the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds, the only word used in connection with the entire span of Jesus' life is "suffered." "Born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and buried." Who, today, notices how extraordinary this is? What a way to describe the life and ministry of a man so famous for his teachings, parables, healings, exorcisms, and other works? None of these are even mentioned in the creeds, and very little is said of them in the various New Testament epistles. The wording of the creeds is a vivid demonstration of the early Christians' conviction that the passion was the culmination and consummation of everything that Jesus accomplished, so as to subsume everything else in the magnitude of its significance.'
'Surprisingly, the liturgical season of Advent, rather than Lent, best locates the Christian community. Advent - the time in between - with its themes of crisis and judgment, now and not-yet, places us not in some privileged spiritual sanctuary but on the frontier where the promised kingdom of God exerts maximum pressure on the present, with corresponding signs of suffering and struggle.'
'The meaning of the life, death, and future of Jesus Christ has been entrusted to human witnesses. The whole enterprise of preaching is built on this trust in the witnesses. It is not always understood that the confidence of the biblical preacher, teacher, and witness is not personal arrogance. Such confidence arises out of the paradoxical faith of the sufficiency of God to override the insufficiency of human beings.'
'Christianity is unique. The world's religions have certain traits in common, but until the gospel of Jesus Christ burst upon the Mediterranean world, no one in the history of human imagination had conceived of such a thing as the worship of a crucified man. The early Christian preaching announced the entrance of God upon the stage of history in the person of an itinerant Jewish teacher who had been ingloriously pinned up alongside two of society's castoffs to die horribly, rejected and condemned by religious and secular authorities alike, discarded onto the garbage heap of humanity, scornfully forsaken by both elites and common folk, leaving behind only a discredited and demoralized handful of scruffy disciples who had no status whatsoever in the eyes of anyone. The peculiarity of this beginning for a world-transforming faith is not sufficiently acknowledged. Too often, today's Christians are lulled into thinking of their own faith as one of the religions, without realizing that the central claim of Christianity is oddly irreligious at its core.'
Fleming Rutledge, The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ, p.1