I tried to dedicate Lent to pondering the question ‘why did Jesus have to die’. Or, maybe more accurately, questioning the question. My Lenten reading was the Stature of Waiting (W.H. Vanstone, 1982) alongside our house group book The Things He Did (Stephen Cottrell, 2016). I’d really recommend all of Cottrell’s books where he paints imaginative pictures of Biblical events or characters. The former book was hard work because I’m not a big friend of wordiness, as my husband would tell you, but it was worth it in the end. Vanstone’s point is that God allowed Himself to be handed over in the passion, and Jesus had to wait as a recipient for people’s decision on how to react to His invitation. His glory was revealed in the waiting in Gethsemane perhaps better than in the cross. When we think of man as created in the image of God, it doesn’t mean that only our activity and creativity reflect how we are meant to live, but there is value also in being done unto, receiving, in waiting. This raises interesting questions about the people who need the help and service of others.
Why did Jesus have to die? There is a familiar and neat corner in my Nordic Protestant soul which accommodates all the off-the-shelf answers and to which I can retreat when I feel worthless (yet loved) and sinful. However, in the last 20 years I’ve grown uncomfortable with many of the quick Christian answers. As I’ve journeyed towards Easter, I’ve become to realise that the real question to me is ‘why did Jesus have to rise from the dead?’ My faith is resurrection faith. It’s the LIFE in Jesus, the streams of living water flowing from Him, and His resurrection which give depth to His message. The resurrection mobilised the disciples and gives hope, even today. It brings an understanding of a living God, accessible throughout the ages. It tells about the importance of LIFE, and draws our attention to Jesus’ life, through which God showed what His love is really like.
Lord, you broke bread with Judas and lovingly washed his feet
knowing he was just about to betray you.
Help me believe in my heart that there is no space for guilt or shame in love.
As your loving gaze rests upon me,
teach me to see others through the same eyes of love.