Someone once asked me why she should believe in Jesus.
“Because, well, He died for our sins… You know… on the Cross…”
She wasn’t convinced. Because what does that even mean?
I guess I have to ask myself two important questions:
Was Jesus who He claimed to be?
And how does that impact my life?
But let me slow down a bit. I need to get some technicalities out of the way.
Jesus was a Jewish man who lived in 1st Century Palestine. There is pretty reliable non-Christian information to support his existence.
We can safely assume that whoever he was, he was most certainly a man of influence. Otherwise I wouldn’t be writing these words right now.
So for a moment let’s forget what we think we know about this man. Forget those Christmas card pictures of Mary and Joseph in the stable. Forget the pretty statues in Church of the handsome, wavy haired, blue-eyed Jesus.
Rather, picture calloused hands from years of hard labour, rugged Israeli features from living in the hot, dry Palestinian climate and consider the fact that he would be speaking Aramaic.
Imagine this man, a carpenter, began to say that he was God.
He was either:
Or he was God.
Now, this is not a theology class (see what I did there?) so I don’t want to get too technical. There are plenty of resources online that show how Jesus in the Gospels equates himself to God.
What I am interested in examining in this post is this “dying for our sins” business and what that means to me.
Sometimes I want to shout, “It’s not fair!”
We’re told that we are guilty of original sin from the moment we are conceived. That mankind is “cursed”. I didn’t ask to be born, and now I am thrown into this tumultuous life and then told that I am bad and that it is all my fault and that if I don’t get my act together I am going to hell.
Seems like a raw deal.
But I was born and I need to make sense of that.
I look at the world around me and I see war, famine, natural disasters, starving children, rape and murder… The list is endless.
The world is cruel. Seeing as I have already established I believe in God, I am put in a tight spot. Either God is a tyrant or something is horribly wrong with the world.
Sometimes I like to replace the word Sin with the word Suffering because people tend to switch off when they hear the word “Sin”. Now I know they are not technically the same thing but I think it’s safe to say that when people do BAD things to each other (sin), people suffer. Therefore suffering is a result of sin (bad stuff).
Every person who is born into this world is capable of great good and great evil. We have that choice. There just seems to be a tendency to choose evil. I choose things for my own benefit. I’m selfish.
So where does Jesus fit into all of this?
If he was God, then why did he die? Why did he allow himself to die?
The way I see it is that almost all of the pain and anguish in the world is our fault. We cause it. I don’t know why we do it but we do. This is an undeniable fact.
Now if God loves us, He’d want to do something about this. He would want to save us from ourselves. He could destroy the world. Good riddance. Or He could find a way to redeem us; To make things new again.
Enter Jesus. God Man. He came into the world and said, “Let me have it; all the pain, all the suffering, the anguish, the torment. I will take it. I can take it.”
So mankind betrayed him, deserted him, condemned him, tortured him and killed him.
And if Jesus was just a good man with wise teachings, the story should have ended there.
But here I am, in 2014, writing a blog about a man who lived… well, 2000 years ago.
God takes it all, dies with it and then rises from the dead to show that all of our “sin”, our “suffering”, is healed in Him.
It is a message of hope. Good News. I can’t say that I’ve completely understood it or grasped it. That may never happen in this lifetime but I do believe it to be tremendously important.
I can look at my own life: leaving my home country at age 12 and becoming stateless, crippling anxiety and fears, depression, the death of my father, in all these things I can look to Jesus and see a God who knows what it is like to suffer and who shows me that there is always hope, there is always redemption. My suffering, the world’s suffering can no longer be meaningless.
So when I hear that Jesus died for our sins, the sins of the world, I don’t think about the time I lied to my mother about breaking the computer, or when I bunked maths class. I think about when I’ve betrayed loved ones by not being there for them when they needed me most, I think about how I’ve judged people who were innocent, I think about the wars in the world and the killing of children, rape, genocide… THAT is what Jesus died to save us from. THOSE are our sins. But Jesus’s death is not about telling us how bad we are, it is about telling us that there is hope even in the darkest depths of humanity. And so I can hope for the world. I can hope for the homeless man I see everyday at the traffic lights. I can hope for the prisoners, the victims of crime, for countries, for politicians, for mothers, for fathers, for children, the climate, and for myself.
For me being a Christian is not about being good. It’s not about following rules. It’s about hope. It’s about redemption from and in suffering. That even though I am not perfect, that I mess up and sometimes life seems too much to bear, I have a second chance in Jesus my God because he doesn’t want to leave me with no way out of this fallen world.
So why should you believe in Jesus?