Story// Why did Jesus have to die? | An Easter Gospel Reflection
In the Story of the Bible, who is the Truly Human One? Is there any hope for a world headed towards self-destruction?
Read Time: ~7m
Everywhere we look it seems there’s a new report of death... some violent act of hate... or people strong-arming others into submission with their beliefs, power or intelligence.
Wouldn't it be great to get rid of all that junk?
We build religions, cultures, and rituals around beliefs like, "If I could just work hard enough... next time I’ll be better... eventually I can get myself to a higher state... one where myself or others can be proud of."
Our best remarks throughout time have basically been "I’m working on it,” and the hard reality is, sorry it doesn’t work. There was no way in demonstrated history for humanity to escape this cycle of self-destruction.
But Why? What happens when we meet the enemy and it turns out to be ourselves?
What is a person to do? What do our gods say about this? What are the ultimate expressions of our ideals?
You may have heard a story where "God is just," but what does this really mean? What happens to all this evil and destruction, and why does it even matter if Jesus offered himself up from a place of innocence, to pay for the consequences of our actions?
I would suggest to you, the story of a human living a life free of this destructive nature, is far more nuanced and much more interesting...
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The Story Begins - The First Humans
Back in the garden of Eden, a being called God made everything "good." Then humans entered the scene and he called us "very good." We were freely given eternal life, and all we had to do to maintain it was to simply eat from the Tree of Life.
Unfortunately being human, we found a way to mess it up. With thousands of options available for us to succeed, and every food available for us to enjoy, we choose to focus on the 1 thing that was not good.
The humans desired to expand their good world with the knowledge of both good and evil. Needless to say, the complexity of our world began to grow. We started to confuse what was good, and what was not good. The humans started grabbing for power, and became self-protective at the expense of others. In the complexities of human evil, our world became a mess.
The Great Disaster - The God YHWH
Without the God and sustainer of life called YHWH, being invited into the lifestyle of humans, our world started to collapse in on itself. Eventually, the effects of this corruption snowballed into a great flood, covering at least the whole middle-eastern world.
Many people thought God's anger caused the catastrophe. In fact, he was deeply grieved to see his good world and the people he cared about fall into such chaos.
Fortunately, one man and his family listened to the warnings of this God, and they were rescued from the great disaster. Noah thanked God for his protection, and YHWH made an everlasting commitment to prevent this human destruction from occurring again.
The Children of Commitment
While God kept his word, Noah's descendants became confused, even about who God actually is. So generations later, Abraham makes a new commitment with the God YHWH.
They enter into a partnership together and God promises to embrace us as his family, and give us a good land of our own.
The family of Abraham continued to date God for generations, even through centuries of captivity. Despite their best efforts, they couldn't achieve the good world on their own. Eventually, a grandchild named Moses was sent by God to rescue his family from Egyptian slavery.
This is the first time we actually see YHWH get angry. His "nose burns hot" as Moses tries to find an excuse not to be the guy to confront the oppressive world leader. Yet in his anger, God is still patient. He works through the 5 denials Moses brings up before they arrive at a solution together, and ultimately set the captives free.
A Nation to 1 Human
This Jewish people are now a small nation, and grew to love God's gracious and merciful character. They saw he was slow to anger, full of loyal love and faithfulness to his people.
So they made a new commitment to deepen their relationship with God in a kind of marriage ceremony. The vows of the 10 commandments were shared to show the family how to live in a way that would bring back the good world. God and Moses were so excited to share the news with the people, but found them committing adultery with other gods.
Yet God remained faithful. He hoped through the terms of their relationship, or law as some called it, the humans could find their way with specific examples of instruction. But again, even knowing the rules of the road, generation after generation the people failed.
The great King David even failed at his best. So God renewed the commitment to say, even just 1 human could bring back goodness for the whole world, and it would last for all time. Yet the story of the Jewish family turned nation eventually comes to an end, and this great rescuer, this Messiah, never arrives.
The Great Rescuer
Having exhausted every opportunity to bring about the good world on our own, humans were left to our own self-destruction.
But God is committed to not let humans fall back into another great disaster as we did before. YHWH decides to show up to Earth himself, as a human, and do for us what we haven't been able to do for over two thousand years.
Jesus enters the scene, and even as a young boy teachers of the law are amazed and challenged by his understanding of YHWH's commitment to humans. Jesus grows “in wisdom, in stature, and in favor with God and with man,” as he perfectly lives out the commitment in the way YHWH hoped a human would.
Yet with the consequences of human evil still in the air, someone still has to be held accountable for these actions.
Jesus is presented with the same choice of all humans. We can embrace our own desires of what we think a good life is, or we can “let not our desire, but God’s desire be done.” In a great act of love he offers his life, ultimately bringing the human's commitment with God through David and the ancestors to fulfillment.
Now we wait for validation.
The Truly Human One
It took 6 legal trials to sentence Jesus’s execution. The only accusation that stuck, was a claim of blasphemy - that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the embodied God of love and life.
Many others came before him with a pursuit to live the good life and rescue the people, but death defeated them as well. So did he really live a life in full alignment with God, and without these mistakes?
When Jesus was asked who was good, he said no man is good but God alone. And we can see this for ourselves. We often miss the mark in an act of sin, and don’t live the fullest expression of being human.
True Power Revealed
Jesus didn't come as a self-help guru to teach us how to be better people, like the detailed instructions of Moses. Nor did he come as a military leader to overthrow the oppressors of their day, like his grandad King David.
Jesus was playing an entirely different game.
And about that validation?
It came 3 days after his violent execution, or as Jesus saw it, his divine enthronement. Jesus came back to life, walked out of his tomb, and back into the garden.
Starting with two women, he soon began appearing to hundreds more over the next few weeks. He didn't come as Santa Clause to just bring blessings and make us happy like it's Christmas either. He came to reveal the true reality of our world and human identity.
That doesn't always feel good, in fact, the more clearly we can see the more obstacles often emerge.
What This Means For Us
He revealed how changing a few personal behaviors here and there, hasn't ultimately changed the trajectory of human life. Rather than being good on our own, we need our desires fundamentally rewritten by our creator.
And finally, this is now possible for all humans. With the only real power death ever had defeated by the resurrected Jesus, humans are able to be rescued into God's good world.
He invites us to humble ourselves in forgiveness for our misdeeds, and commit to what he calls a new heart.
We are no longer doomed to continue in the behavioral pattern of our ancestors, to live a life of death and self-destruction. We can instead choose for ourselves to partner with the heart of YHWH, the God of life.
As each human begins to align themselves with the giver of life through the teachings and lifestyle of Jesus, the world can once again be made good. From our new heart, we reveal our relationship with God, show love, and bring life with our behaviors. And when we fail, we are also given a gift of grace.
For those who still doubt this God? Their role is essential, but we'll get into this more in a future post.
In the meantime...
💬👇 What part of this Easter Reflection stood out to you?
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💬👇 How is this communication of the biblical story similar or different than what you've heard?
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