Saturday, April 12, 2008

How Jesus Could Have Avoided the Cross

Throughout his ministry, Jesus knew how it would end. He would tell his disciples, "We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life" (Matthew 20:18-19, NIV).

Could Jesus have avoided his crucifixion?

Perhaps Jesus could have kept quiet. After all, his enemies hated his message. They did not want their motives exposed. They did not want the people to know how they had manipulated the Bible to build a power base, to control people, to avoid their own responsibilities, and to appear better than others. Christ's enemies did not want to hear that he was the Son of God. They did not want to be held accountable by his message.

Maybe Jesus could have stopped caring about people. Christ's enemies could not tolerate Jesus' willingness to forgive. They hated his love for dishonest tax collectors and adulteresses. They could not stand how he would ignore their rules in order to help people in need. They hated how Jesus would heal desperately sick or disabled people on the Sabbath. He even allowed his hungry followers to pick food from the field on the Sabbath. They despised the fact that Christ cared more for people than for their traditions.

In the end, Jesus knew that he could not avoid the cross. It was not who he was. He could not remain silent when people needed the truth, and he could not stop caring when people were facing physical and spiritual needs. Despite the efforts of his enemies, Christ could not be intimidated into quiet passivity and apathy. He loved us too much.

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