As noted in my preceding blogpost, Jesus came to earth to do two things: To teach, and to die. This post has some brief thoughts on why the way He did each makes sense.
“Verily, verily,” says Jesus over and over in His teaching, never, “Don’t quote me on this.” He was indeed teaching with authority, and intended to do so.
His was a clean and simple existence — no ties, just teaching, with no breaks. He taught creatively and in every way He could: statements and sermons, imperatives and questions, parables and quotations from Scripture, epigrams and tears and actions of all kinds. Above all, He taught by example in how He lived and how He died.
What sort of death makes sense if it is atoning for mankind’s sins? That is, Jesus could have come to earth and died an atoning death by getting run over by an errant oxcart or getting hit in the head by particularly clumsy oarsman, but He wasn’t. Why not?
Well, when you think about it, a death atoning for sin would be most fitting if it were a killing by sinners acting sinfully. And for it to suggest the culpability of all mankind, it would be committed by powerful authorities representing many more people than just themselves. It would be a public death, and one in which plenty of what people considered due process — following all the rules — was given. And of course it would be for no good reason: just trumped up reasons, but reasons that supposedly were based on the most serious sort of secular and religious charges, namely treason and blasphemy, respectively. The underlying motives epitomize the sins of the world. And the death atoning for all sins would, one would think, have to be horrible and humiliating and long.
Finally, if we put the two together, Jesus’ death was the ultimate teaching moment. The timing of it was important: During Passover, and the Passion Week was a vignette, with the acclamation of Palm Sunday followed by a betrayal by someone close followed by the crowd turning on Him.
And there was a balance between Jesus choosing to die (and knowing He would) and people choosing to kill Him; He knew what people would freely choose to do. And not just the killers; is there a better example of the balance of free will and predestination than Jesus telling Peter that the latter will deny Him three times, and Peter doing just that despite his advance notice and his protestations to the contrary? The last Word is that the Resurrection would be eminently knowable but also deniable by those who so choose.
P.S. I’ll add just briefly that, indeed, every part of Jesus’ life makes sense: the birth to a human mother, His humble nativity, living in Israel and as a Jew, when He began His ministry, how long it lasted — and, as just discussed, how He taught and how He died. What’s more, the Resurrection makes perfect sense, too, as I discuss here.