Why Jesus? Why the cross? Our learned response might go like this: ’Jesus came to die for our sins, and in doing so, sets us free and secures for us eternal life.’ This is incredible in itself but maybe, just maybe, there is more to Jesus coming that we haven’t even begun to understand…
Pause for a few moments to reflect on this question: Why did the Son come?
Before the fall (Genesis 1,2), before we lost sight of Father’s face, could it have been Father, Son and Holy Spirit’s plan for the Son to come and be with us? Jesus coming into this world might not just be a rescue mission: It is the deeper mission to be with us. To be one of us.
Jesus is born into a poor family in Roman-occupied Palestine. He works as a tradesman for many of his years and walks the same sun-parched land as his friends. As fully human, Jesus relies on others for his needs and experiences exhaustion, thirst, hunger, weariness, delight, emotional turmoil, joy, trauma and injustice. Jesus sets aside his divine privileges (Phil 2:7). He doesn’t use a “get out of jail free” card he can hand to Father when all hell breaks loose. He enters into and begins to experience our world as we experience it.
And so, Christ becomes the Son, Jesus, fully human and setting aside his divinity to experience life in exactly the same way we do. Something that deepens our understanding of what it is to “get saved” is taking place, something almost too wonderful for us to comprehend.
“This is God… fully human and fully alive!” – Paul Young
God wants to be fully known by us, and the Son is coming for this reason. The trauma of the fall (Genesis 3) has not changed God’s desire to be in relationship with us, and through Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection, he makes a way for us to be able to see and experience the Father’s love again.
Jesus is God with our skin on, and he images the Father perfectly.
Jesus, the most deeply human person who has ever lived, wants us to know it is very good to be human. He is not hatching an escape plan from the material world. He is letting us know that the Kingdom of God is coming again to where we are, right here and now, and he invites us to participate with him in it. Jesus is showing us the way, by making a way for us to be fully human and fully alive in the presence of God. He lives an extraordinary human life, relying on Holy Spirit to show him the Father, and he shows us we can know the Father through Him in this same way.
“Jesus’ life was as powerful as his death and resurrection.” – Maureen Menard
But we are indeed broken, and in order for Jesus to heal every part of our human experience, he walks through all of it. He knows he must get to the bottom of where we are lost for us to experience, once again, the fullness of relationship with God.
“The story is about how the love of the Father, Son, and Spirit finds a way to do the impossible – reach us in our fallen minds… Real relationship necessitates that the Lord get to the very bottom of the Fall, into the catacombs of our human hostility toward him and his love.” – Baxter Kruger
There is a choice God makes and that is to bind himself to us through Jesus. Forever.
So, why the cross? For a few minutes, ponder the following: Was the cross the place where God’s wrath would finally be satisfied? Is the cross our place of rescue?
We are often well trained in our understanding that the cross is the place Jesus must travel towards so that he can take upon himself all of Father’s wrath to prevent it from falling upon us. This, of course, leads us to consider our view of God, which is important to do. But please consider this: The Father did not send Jesus to the Cross. We did.
“This is not ‘sinners in the hands of an angry God.’ It is God in the hands of angry sinners.” – Paul Young
The Bible Project video ‘The Gospel of the Kingdom’ suggests that Jesus let evil exhaust all its power on him, using the only real weapon it had: death. Jesus took our evil mess… and let it kill him. He took all the pain, confusion, and anger that we threw at him… and let it kill him.
“The cross reveals a God who would rather suffer our violence than participate in it.” – Andre Rabe
All our brokenness, devastation, and angst are fully exposed at the cross. It has to be because only what is exposed can be healed. Jesus has to enter into the depths of our depravity in order to restore all our dignity. This is truly God “pitching his tent inside our humanity” (The Bible Project). And Jesus is not alone in this. Father, Son and Holy Spirit have never been alone, and they aren’t going to be now.
Why then… “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22.2, Tree of Life Version) Consider this perspective: The Father has not forsaken Jesus. He is there, but Jesus can’t see him while he experiences the full gambit of human emotion as he moves towards an inhumane and grotesque death. Fully human, he experiences what we might experience, and it feels as if Father’s face is eclipsed.
Why the cross? Jesus is making a way for us to be able to see the Father again and be “born again” into the life and communion of our Trinity family. Jesus doesn’t change Father’s heart towards us. He changes our view of Father. He lives the extraordinary human life, navigates the way, and invites us to do the same. Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection resets Genesis One and Two and restores our full dignity and the beauty of being human. Because being human is good, very good.
“In Jesus, the kaleidoscope of human thought turns, and all things appear new, including God.” – Baxter Kruger
And here is something else to consider: Jesus has remained Jesus. He has not discarded his humanity. The Son has allowed himself to be forever changed because of us. The very nature of the Godhead has changed because a human (and all humans through him) are included! Baxter Kruger captures the incredible wonder of this when he writes: “Such astounding love, such care, such determination to be with us and to share life, is beyond our wildest dreams. It cannot be. But so it is.”
- As you go through your week, think about how Jesus living a fully human life might change your view on humanity. How does it add dignity to our humanity? Has it left you feeling a bit lost as to what Jesus being human actually means, or are you amazed that he would enter so fully into our humanity in order to reset it and to be with us? Journal a few lines on this.
- There may have been a painful experience in your life when you could not see the Father’s face. How does knowing that Jesus experienced this affect your understanding of your own experience? In a few sentences, journal this.
- Video: The Gospel of the Kingdom by the Bible Project
- Across all Worlds: Jesus inside our darkness by Baxter Kruger