Calvary as Theophany: Part 1, The Death of Jesus as an Event or an Apocalypse?

I want to devote three posts to understanding the death of Jesus upon the cross as a theophany. 

Most people, I'm assuming, understand the death of Jesus as an event. Not just an event in history, but an event in the life of God. 

Specifically, we tend tell the story of salvation in a linear, serial fashion. Because of our sin God was once wrathful toward us. But God comes in the form of the Son to die upon the cross. Jesus gives his life on the cross as an atoning sacrifice. And due to that sacrifice God's wrath is turned away and we now stand justified, righteous and forgiven. 

Told this way, the death of Jesus on the cross takes its place in a temporal sequence within the life of God, marking a turn or change in the heart of God toward sinful humanity. There was a before, and there was an after.

This is a common way to think about the death of Jesus. Once, God was angry with me. But now, God forgives me. And yet, upon reflection, applying either time or change to God kicks up a host of metaphysical issues. Can God, the Creator of Time, be subject to a linear, temporal sequence? Can there be a before and after with God? And can God, being unchanging and eternal, be said to change or turn? Let alone all the other issues related to certain atonement theories which demand God "requires" some mechanism through which to extend forgiveness. Such external constraints, upon forgiveness or any other divine action, cannot exist for God.

All well and good, but if Calvary isn't an event in the life of God then what is it?

Calvary, in an alternative view, would be an apocalypse, a theophany. (Recall, "apocalypse" means "unveiling.") A theophany is a visible manifestation of God to humanity. Think of Moses and the burning bush, the roaring and thunder on Mount Sinai, or Ezekiel's vision of God at the river Chebar. The Bible is filled with theophanies, where the presence of God becomes visible.

Looked at this way, Jesus simply is a theophany, the presence of God made visible. Jesus is, in the words of Scripture, "the image of the invisible God" and "the exact representation of God's being." As it declares in the opening lines of the book of Hebrews:

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.
Or the opening words of 1 John:
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.
Seen in this light, the life and death of Jesus isn't an event in the life of God. Rather, the death of Jesus is a theophany, an apocalypse, a revelation, an unveiling. 

The cross isn't an event, it's a window

The death of Jesus isn't a change in the life of God, but a revelation of who God is, was, and will forever be. 

Calvary is a theophany, the love of God made visible within human history.

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