It’s easy to think that what you say and do isn’t a big deal. How do you measure the impact of your choices and actions anyway? Can your choice make a difference to the world?
At Easter Time, our thoughts naturally turn to Jesus and the choices he made. Although the stores are bursting at the seams with bunnies and eggs, even the non-religious reflect that the man called Jesus did indeed walk the earth 2,000 years ago.
Once that idea creeps into your mind, you must ask yourself; was he really who he said he was? Even his detractors have to admit that this man’s life made a huge impact on the world. Far greater than the influence of an everyday carpenter. Jesus was far from ordinary!
A Radical Path
Jesus confronted the Jewish doctrines of his day. He didn’t take their truths as law but instead relied on his personal relationship with his Heavenly Father. That was too threatening for the leaders of that time, so they plotted his death.
We read in the Gospels that Jesus healed the sick, forgave people of their sins, and taught the way to live in word and deed. When asked what the will of God was, he replied:
“The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” – John 6:29, NIV
The mind and heart of Jesus turned the people in a new and unchartered direction.
The biggest question hanging in the air is, “Did Jesus have to die on the cross?” Was that a necessary part of the plan? Why did he choose to go that way?
When a statement is made often enough it can become a truth – or so it seems. Let’s examine why the idea that Jesus’ death was necessary is deeply embedded in Christianity.
The Greatest Love
Think of the person who loves you the most. Would they be willing to die for you? The chances are they would, because that is the nature of love. You are willing to sacrifice yourself for the person you love, no matter the cost. One of the most often quoted Bible verses tells us:
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13.
We see such love in the incredible sacrifices that people make in war and in peace. The parent who trades their life for their child’s is at the heart of sacrificial love. What matters is the quality of heart whereby someone is willing to lay down their life. Thankfully, such sacrifice is not always required.
Jesus didn’t begin his ministry preaching the gospel of crucifixion. Life was very important to him – he taught a new way to live. He had so much more to teach, and to do. He had to achieve what Adam couldn’t achieve: “Be fruitful, multiply and have dominion.” He had to reconnect the lineal thread between God and humankind – that means he had to be a mediator of God’s forgiveness. That was at the core of his work during his lifetime.
How one man’s life choice changed the world
We must all honor the fact that Jesus’ life and death changed the world in incredible ways that no-one at the time could have imagined or predicted. The Roman soldiers who vied for his clothes didn’t know that he would become a household name all over the world. They thought they had ended the life of a rabble rouser, but in fact, they had begun a chain of events that would shape the next two thousand years and beyond.
Jesus’ victory on the cross reveals the power of love to conquer all. Even though Jesus had bargained for more time on earth when he pleaded in the Garden of Gethsemane, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me”, his time had come. Jesus was not afraid to die, as some say, but desperate to complete his mission of forgiveness and salvation for humankind.
The victory of the cross was not Jesus death, for he could forgive sins while alive, but in the words he spoke as he hung on the cross: “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” These 11 words repaired some terrible trespass that was hidden in the folds of time. He created a new pathway for all who unite in heart with him, to a new relationship with God and a future full of hope.
Christ had done what Adam could not do. He became one in heart with our Heavenly Parent, and he reflects that love to those who choose to receive it. Because of love he won the right to vouch for us, even when we are less than we could be. Jesus testifies to what we will become, and mediates for us in the meantime. That is a remarkable love.
The path of loving God
“Our path of life may be troubled, insecure, full of the misery and with only fleeting pleasures, yet on this path we can bind the power of death and go beyond death’s misery. What is the path to overcome all these trials and go safely straight to the goal? It is the path of loving God. Is there any other way? When we are ready to live and die for the love of God, God will be with us and protect us.” –Sun Myung Moon
As you celebrate the miracle of Easter this weekend, remember that resurrection is not just something that happened thousands of years ago. We can create a resurrection right here and now, in our own hearts. It starts by recognizing that we are spiritual beings having a physical experience (not the other way around). It’s our choice to follow the way of love – to decide to use this physical lifetime to develop real faith, real love, and a real commitment. By choosing to respond to God’s call we can transform this world.