Moronic and Ironic

I cannot think of a single person I have
ever met that likes to lose. In fact, I am hard
pressed to recall a single time when someone
that I know “lost” but remained satisfied.
Maybe it is just me who thinks this (I doubt it),
but no one likes to lose.
Losing is difficult. It is painful. It is
humiliating and sobering. It can be loss of a
job or a competition or an opportunity. It can
be loss of face or loss of reputation. It can be
loss of a friend or loss of a loved one. In some
cases, loss is temporary. In other cases, loss
is permanent. The fact is this: human nature
is such that we want to win. We desire more
than anything for things to work out in our
favor. When we are playing a game, we want
to win. When we are vying for a position or
career opportunity, we want to be selected. As
we live our lives from day to day, we want our
decisions and actions to be respected—we
want to advance our standing among our
peers. We want our friends to stick with us.
And, although we know it is not possible, we
want life to go on and on and on.
There is nothing wrong with seeking and
celebrating triumph, of course. Generally,
doing so means we are working toward
excellence. And working toward excellence in
all that we do is honorable. It is good when
we live our lives the best that we possibly can
live them. It is a noble thing, in my opinion, to
do quality work, to do good, and to be known
as someone who takes seriously the
opportunities that are presented in life. “Do
not grow weary in doing good,” Paul urged
the church in Thessalonica. Amen, Paul.

In the ancient world, crucifixion was not
associated in any way with victory or
triumph. Actually, the opposite was true.
When someone was executed on a cross,
they were shown to the world to be
someone who had failed at life. Crucifixion
victims were the dregs of society. They
were the criminals, the rebels, the rabblerousers, the agitators, and the delinquents.
They were thieves, insurrectionists, and
murderers. They were the ones who plied
their fell trades outside the margins of
polite society. They were dishonorable.
They were rejects. They were losers.
Outside of whatever tiny circle of friends or
family they may still have had at the time of
their execution, their death was surely no
great loss to society.
There is one particular victim of
crucifixion who did not fit this description,
however. Oh, he certainly was maligned as
a reject and a failure. He was definitely
seen as an agitator and rebel and
delinquent. He also was discounted by
many as a criminal. He was considered
dishonorable and disreputable. Moreover,
his death brought joy and relief to a
significant portion of his society. When
Jesus was crucified, he experienced the
same mistreatment and suffering that
every other casualty of crucifixion
But Paul describes Jesus’s crucifixion
as a triumph. Paul correctly points out that,
in the death of Jesus, we see the power of
God, because God raised Jesus from the
dead. In the death of Christ, it is not Christ
who was brought to shame, but the rulers
and authorities who did to him this terrible
deed. The real victory in the crucifixion of
Jesus is the victory of God. Sin and its
cohort, law, were nailed to the cross with
Jesus. With his death, Jesus brought joy
and relief to everyone in every society who
puts their faith in him.

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