We have just come through Passover and Easter, two of the most important holidays not just for believers in Jesus/Yeshua but for the entire world, as they commemorate the turning point of history. Jesus, “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped” (Philippians 2:6), willingly stepped down from His seat of Glory at the Father’s right hand (Acts 7:55, Romans 8:34, Ephesians 1:20, Colossians 3:1, etc.) to be born as an infant, the Son of Man (Matthew 12:40). He lived a nomadic, persecuted, impoverished life, being marked for death even before birth (Matt. 2:16) and was executed in the most painful way devised by one of the most ruthless empires in history as so lowly a death that it was only reserved for the lowest castes of society.
I have one question for you: Why? Why did God chose this means to redeem the world? It seems like an unnecessary level of suffering, like an almighty God could have devised an easier means of redemption than this. Couldn’t He just snap His fingers and declare us clean? And for that matter, why the whole rigmarole of history, post-Edenic Fall to the Cross and post-Cross to the End of Days? Why not just forgive Adam and Eve right after their sin, beam them to heaven, and call it good?
Obviously these are big questions and I don’t claim to have any complete answers, but I would like to share what answer I believe I’ve been given.
Some people think that the destination of history is a return to the beginning, to living in the Garden of Eden and sharing communion with God as Adam did. But I think that is too short-sighted of a goal. Were that the case, then I couldn’t see an answer to the questions posed above. God has something far greater in mind. As C.S. Lewis would say, He is leading us from the good thing to the great thing. Through this course of redemptive history, we are able to have a closer relationship with God than Adam and Eve ever could, even had they never sinned. Creating humanity was not a sacrifice for God; He is infinite and sovereign, everything is His and creating humanity from dust and even dust from nothing–ex nihilo–was no sweat off His brow. It was in fact a delight to Him. But at that point, Adam and Eve were only creatures and creations of God. Granted they were created in the image of God and had the breath of God, the ruach, in them but they were not called children of God. God’s relationship with them required no sacrifice on His part, it was easy. Think about relationships in your own life; with whom are you closer, a friend or relative with whom you’ve always gotten along or one for whom you have given of yourself to maintain relationship? While the latter certainly has more baggage attached to it, it is also the deeper relationship because you have had to make personal sacrifices to maintain it and in doing so have demonstrated your love. God loved Adam and Eve, but it seems like there was some distance in His relationship with them pre-Fall; it was definitely not as close of a relationship as He shares within Himself in the members of the Trinity.
The history of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection are the story of God acting on His love for humanity, turning us from creations to children, deepening our relationship with Him through sacrifice. For the Son to be born as a man and go through life as He did was the only way that God COULD sacrifice. Think about it: God is in control of everything, He created everything, He cannot have anything taken from Him or added to Him. He is the only independent factor, the Prime Mover, the Cause, the Author of life. The only possible way for Him to show His love via sacrifice for us is through the life and death of Jesus, by suffering a loss of communion within Himself and turning His face away from His only begotten Son as He became sin in our place (2 Corinthians 5:21). Because of this, we are a new form of humanity. We no longer have to follow the blueprint of the first Adam, being consigned to a sinful, miserable life followed by eternal separation from God. Instead, we can follow the Second Adam and die to ourselves that we might have life and life abundantly as children of God (1 Cor. 15:35; John 10:10; Romans 6:1-10). We can now share in the communion of the Trinity, being indwelt by the Holy Spirit–the Ruach haKodesh–and empowered by Him into relationship with the Father. This is the only way history could have gone and this sacrifice can only be made once in all of time and space. It truly is the turning point of history.
It is so easy as Believers to tune out Passover/Easter sermons and yawn through common verses like John 3:16. We’ve heard it all before, right? I pray this post can reawaken our excitement at the enormity of what we are celebrating and give us new eyes to see past the cliches. As we sang at my church on Sunday, “I am no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God.” Praise the Lord!