QUESTION: “If there is a god, why doesn’t he just tell us?”
ANSWER: “He did. We crucified Him. That was His plan.”
Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday when Christians around the world commemorate Jesus’ entering Jerusalem amid loud choruses of “Hallelujah.” During the week that He was crucified Jesus presented Himself to the crowds, the religious leaders, and his disciples as Messiah, God’s Son, Savior and the Great I AM.
All four gospels recount Jesus’ telling His disciples that the Jewish leaders would reject His claims and turn Him over to the Romans to be crucified. He also told them He would rise from the dead on the third day, something that confounded the disciples.
Since those days many families around the world have read the stories out loud every spring to teach their children, to reach out to those who have rejected God’s gift, and to remind themselves of how much God loves us. But, why did Jesus have to die? Is there no other way?
After the fall in the garden of Eden, all hope of doing anything to reconcile with God was lost. The first three chapters of Paul’s letter to believers in Rome conclusively demonstrate none of us seeks God. The end of the third chapter offers the only hope, that God has reached out to us, that Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost, offering us the free gift of eternal life. (Romans 3:21-31)
The Bible says we are inherently bad. Nevertheless, we believe there’s some good in all of us. Jean Rousseau wrote, “Man is a being who is naturally good and who loves justice and order; that there is no original perversity in the human heart….” Perhaps this is why so many reject God and the Bible. If Rousseau is right, we don’t need God. We’re all the same and share the same destiny. But, what if Jesus is God?
The Bible has always thrown a monkey wrench into the belief that we’re basically good. What did Mark Twain say? “It is not the things which I do not understand in the Bible which trouble me, but the things which I do understand.”
When God spoke to Moses from the middle of the burning bush and Moses asked God what His name was, God replied, “‘I AM WHO I AM;’ and He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” (Exodus 3:14)
About 1,500 years later the high priest asked Jesus, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” Jesus answered, “I AM; and you shall see the son of man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” (Mark 14:62)
After becoming a Christian, C. S. Lewis wrote “Mere Christianity” reasoning that Jesus could not have been a “a great moral teacher.” Anyone who made the claims Jesus made would be a “lunatic” or “the Devil of Hell,” but neither great nor moral unless Jesus was who He claimed to be.
According to the Bible after the crucifixion no one believed Jesus could rise from the dead. Indeed, when Jesus appeared to His followers, they could hardly believe He was alive. Jesus’ resurrection became the cornerstone of the good news! “Christ is risen!” “He is risen indeed!”
Daniel L. Gardner is a syndicated columnist who lives in Starkville. Contact him at PJandMe2@gmail.com.