Everybody has a story to tell. But, more profoundly, every body tells a story. Even before a person begins to develop a story about who they are, their body has already begun to bear their story. From birth -- the moment their body is distinct from their mother’s body -- a person carries in and on their body the story of their inheritance. And not long after birth, that body begins learning language by which their story is expanded beyond the body and brought into the broader matrix of stories. The flesh becomes word.
However, in Jesus Christ, the Word became flesh. For the story of Jesus Christ is not just the embodied story of the son of Mary, but also the eternal Story of the Son of God, through whom and for whom the Father speaks the story of all Creation (Colossians 1:16). Therefore, the story of the invisible, triune God is revealed in the embodied story of Jesus of Nazareth -- the Gospel. But in the gospel texts that story changes as it approaches the cross. He whose words bring life is muted (Isaiah 53:7; Mark 14:61). As the passion story unfolds, the narrative overtakes Jesus and constricts around his body and its pain.
The Word is nailed to the flesh irrevocably. The point of the crucifixion was the silencing of the story through the obliteration of the body. The goal was not simply death, but the complete eradication of the body (which made crucifixion one of Rome’s three Supreme Penalties). The powers and principalities of this world destroy the body and extinguish the story of Jesus of Nazareth, co-opting the cry of dereliction (Mark 15:34) into their story of violence and domination. With a loud cry (Mark 15:37), the Word is exhausted; the peaceable story, silenced.
The Rev. Nik Forti