Dear Pastor Andy, did Jesus know He was going to be raised again after being crucified? And if so, then why is Jesus’ death considered as all that much of a sacrifice for Him, when it sounds more to me like it was just a weekend in hell to save people for all eternity? I would EASILY do such a thing and I ain’t even GOD! Many people lay down their lives and suffer worse for other people and they don’t think of themselves as a God. And many of these people are people who do not believe in God, and they don’t get to rise and reign in heaven for all eternity.
So didn’t Jesus get off rather easy?
My Reply: Let’s look at your questions separately here:
- Did Jesus know he would be raised after being crucified? Yes, Jesus DID know that he would be raised 3 days later, for Jesus often talked about the awesome event with His disciples. For instance, when Jesus talked about the temple being destroyed and that He would raise it up in 3 days (John 2:19), He was talking about His body. Jesus also talked about it in John 16:16 where He said, “…a little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me.” So yeah, Jesus knew that He was going to be resurrected.
- Did Jesus get off easy? No way! Did you read what He had to go through before dying? If not, then you should really read the medical reports on how Jesus died. Then, to top off all the physical abuse, there was the mocking and complete abandonment. I mean, have you ever been rejected by people who you thought cared about you? Check this out: Simon Peter swore that he would never leave Jesus…then he denied Jesus 3 times; there was Judas, who was one of the 12, and he betrayed Jesus for a measly 30 pieces of silver; the other 10, who also swore to never leave Jesus, dispersed when He was arrested; the women who supported Jesus and His ministry watched Him on the cross, but from afar…off in the distance. Then, while up there, the soldiers stripped Him naked and gambled for His clothes; people walked by shaking their heads at Him and mocked Him by taking His own words out of context; the High Priest, Elders, and Teachers of the Law (all people who God had originally put into their places of authority) continued to mock Him; then, the criminals on either side of Him began to mock Him. And Jesus was up there in order to hopefully rescue them? Honestly, regardless of whether or not you would be raised from the dead later, if you knew that going through with that would save these people from hell, would you still do it? Would you really go through all that torture and rejection even if you knew it would be by the people who you were trying to save? I’m guessing not, and ethically speaking, you would probably be in the right to bail. But Jesus’ love for even them (and us) was (is) so great that He went through it not only because He had to, but He wanted to…there was nothing easy to it.
- Many people lay down their lives and suffer worse for other people…: Yes, people die for friends, family, jobs, etc. all the time, and often from serious torture first. But none of them have ever been raised from the dead 3 days later, appeared before over 500 people afterward, hung around for 40 days, and ascended to Heaven in the presence of public witnesses. Also, nobody else can take our sins with them in their death…only Jesus was able to do that. I understand that you are arguing about what they knew would happen before going through with it. Yes, Jesus knew from the beginning what would happen, for it was part of the plan since the beginning of creation. But that is also a part of it, for even though He knew what would happen, He also knew how it would happen and why it had to happen in that way.
You said: “Many people lay down their lives and suffer worse for other people, and they don’t think of themselves as a God. And many of these people are people who do not believe in God.” You also said: “And they don’t get to rise and reign in heaven for all eternity.” That’s because those people were not God to start with. Jesus is, and always has been, God. He always has reigned in Heaven, and will continue to do so for all eternity. Pontius Pilate, hoping to get a defense from Jesus, asked, “Don’t you know that I have the power to free you?” Jesus’ responses were, A) That he wouldn’t have that power if His Father in Heaven hadn’t first given Him that power; and B) That His kingdom isn’t of this world, for if it was, then His servants would fight to prevent His arrest… (John 18:36). And honestly, it’s really difficult to have gone through worse suffering than Jesus went through.
Here’s the thing. We Christians actually do often continue to go through such as Jesus endured. In fact, all around the world, Christians (and God’s prophets before Christ) endure (and have endured) persecution, death threats, unlawful arrests, prison terms without charges, mocking (common among youth), beatings (some to the point of death), kidnappings, unmentionable torture, and throughout the years, many have been killed (some also by crucifixion…heck, Andrew was nailed to an “X”, and his brother, Simon Peter, was hung on a cross upside-down!). So why then do we bother to spread the gospel? Why do we continue to endure the physical, emotional, and spiritual beatings? What keeps us going? Where do we get the comfort for our suffering? The answer to all of these questions is Jesus Christ. He endured all this, not only first, but pretty much all at once. And why? Because He loves us enough to do so. Therefore, we ourselves endure suffering (and sometimes death) for the sake of the Savior who loves us enough to have suffered and died for us, especially when we didn’t deserve His love. We look to Him for strength, in order to share His love and message with others, so that they too may have a chance to this offered salvation, to be in a relationship with God through Him, and to thus be resurrected after death, just as Jesus promised the thief on His side who acknowledged His deity, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)
So now, I have a question for you: You said that if you knew you would be raised from the dead (resurrected), “I would EASILY do such a thing, and I ain’t even GOD.” Here’s the thing. As Christians, we will be resurrected after death, and this is something we know. Not raised back to life here, but to life in a place that’s SO much better (as my Pastor said in a memorial service recently, “close their eyes to this world, and opened them to the next”). Therefore, if you were a Christian, and as a Christian, you knew that you would be raised from the dead, what reason should God not hold you to your word, that you “would EASILY do such a thing”? Still such an easy thing to do? I challenge you – not to die, but to live…for Christ. Deny yourself, repent of your sins, accept Jesus as your Savior and Lord, as the Holy Spirit to come into your heart, and commit your heart and life fully to Christ Jesus. I mean, you already said you would be willing to die for somebody else, but would you be willing to live for somebody else? That there is the real challenge, and it is that in which I do challenge you.