Why is Jesus' crucifixion the centerpiece of the Gospels?
Jesus' death reveals most clearly his identity and his mission—especially
when we see it from the perspective of Easter. The crucifixion is the centerpiece
of the Gospels. The cross shadows all four narratives from the beginning—in
the fate of John the Baptist, who is the first actor on the stage in Mark and
whose destiny Luke links to Jesus from their conceptions; in Matthew's account
of the slaughter of the innocents; in the dark mention of rejection in John's
Prologue. We cannot know who Jesus is, the evangelists insist, until we know
how he died. Indeed, our conception of Jesus' death colors our vision of God,
our sense of Jesus' mission and our understanding of human suffering and death.
The story of Jesus' crucifixion is a dramatic struggle between life and death,
of the God-man facing the powers of darkness, of triumph won in defeat. The
cross of Jesus is the enduring sign of God's faithful love and the pattern for
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