27 January 2009

Why did Jesus have to die?

James Taranto describes himself as a non-believer in religious matters, and is descended from an ancestry of Turkish Jews. Nonetheless, he gave us a great line today. He was discussing the Covenant - Dallas Academy 100-0 Basketball kerfuffle, and he ended the story with this:

That Covenant is a Christian school prompts Canada's National Post to: "What would Jesus do, if faced with a far inferior basketball team?" What a ridiculous question. Jesus died for our sins, not our wins.


Exodio said...

That is the funniest thing I've read all day. Thanks.

Tyree911 said...

It is nice to toss around the phrase "what would Jesus do", but we really don't have enough information to know what Jesus did in countless situations to be able to know what he would do in current ones.

We can assume we know based on what he did in the situations recorded in the Bible, but just how much of Jesus life is really recorded? If every detail of every thought and everything Jesus was confronted with in his life was recorded, there would not be enough room in all the libraries on earth to contain it all.

If you ask me though, Jesus can play ball.

Tony said...

Of course all the books in the world could not contain the entire list. John says so.

The funniest answer I ever heard to the WWJD question was from a seminary prof of mine. He said Jesus would look around at the commercialization and marketing of the phrase and "He'd puke."

My answer is a little more theological: He would see the sin in the world, and he would die ... to put it to death. And that still would not be the end of the story.

Exodio said...

He didn't die to end sin. He died to show us that there is a better way than letting sin control our lives and dictate to us. Tyree, you said in your blog "You don't have to make that mistake! If you don't arouse your heart to believe and love the shine from God's face, then the power of sin will just keep getting stronger until you fall."

The thing is, the only thing we have to do is allow God to work in our lives. He takes care of everything else.
John 6:44 "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him to life on the last day."

Kind of points out the folly of pursuing Jesus, doesn't it? Jesus' teachings have been warped over the years by well meaning men, and there is such an emphasis on good works and faith and trying to find Jesus. Jesus cannot be found. One can only be drawn to him by the Father.

And, Jesus isn't the only teacher and master that God draws people to.

What Would Jesus Do is an interesting philosophical topic, but that is all. The only thing that matters is What Would YOU Do. God will reveal answers to anyone who seeks Him. They just might not be the ones you think you will hear.

We each have a different path in life, Jesus included - people often forget that though he was a Son of God, he was a human as well, and was used by God to work His will. I think people get too caught up in the myths that have sprung up around Jesus and not enough time listening to the Voice of God that whispers to us all behind the background noise of our lives.

Tony said...

You make some good points, Exodio, some heterodox. This is not a specifically theological blog, but I will respond to two points:

1st, You are correct. We do not choose God, God chooses us. John 15:16.

As for the notion that Jesus is not the only master that God draws people too ..., well, there is no indefinite article in John 14:6, "Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." It is an exclusivist claim, but all real religions make them.

Finally, the statement that Jesus would die to put an end to sin is a contraction of Romans 6-7, 1 Corinthinas 5:21 & Galatians 3:1. I think it is a fair statement.

Exodio said...

I am more of an agnostic with strong Gnostic leanings. That would explain a lot of my heterodoxy.

And your post just clearly explained the ultimate paradox of Christianity:
John 6:44 "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him to life on the last day."

John 14:6 "Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

So noone can get to Jesus unless the Father draws him, and noone can get to the Father unless they go through Jesus.

But roundabout aside, you have to take into account that the Bible was written by men, and as such the writings are subject to the vagaries of language, the inefficacies of translation, and the misunderstanding of points by simple human failings.

Let's take the case of Judas: In the canonical verses of the New Testament, Judas betrayed Jesus and sent him up to be crucified. But in a Gnostic writing, Judas was in fact fulfilling a plan that Jesus laid in order to move the ultimate plan along to the end. Jesus had to die upon the cross. To get there, Judas played a pivotal role.

My belief is that Jesus was a son of God, as are we all, who was able to connect more fully with the power of God and use it to perform miracles. Others were able to learn this. The disciples performed miracles of their own, and showed the power that was and still is available to men.

And this power is apparently accessible to even those who are not followers of Jesus. Simon Magus flew and perpetuated miracles of his own before being defeated by Paul and Peter in Rome.

I think that Jesus found a way to access the deeper powers of humankind, made available through a power beyond our understanding, and if we followed his accurate and true teachings, any of us can perform these miracles.

But his words have been twisted and the meaning has been lost. Otherwise, men would still be able to perform miracles. But something has been changed about his intrinsic teachings, either through a specific effort or just due to human inefficiencies in understanding or passing down the information.

Jesus knew the way. If we were able to follow Jesus' actual teachings, we could follow the way. I think that is what Jesus was trying to say when he said he was the way.

Tony said...

Upon claiming the mantle of Gnostic, you move yourself from heterodox to heretic. :-)

Much of what you base your subsequent argument on is from what Christian regard as non-canonical writings, so there is little for us to discuss regarding the canonical.

I will leave it that we agree to disagree on this one.

Exodio said...