If I were Jesus, we would all be on our way to hell with no hope of redemption or salvation.
I would have been so salty in the garden when I asked my disciples to pray and they fell asleep. Seriously, I would have thought (if not said), I have spent the past 3 years with you, teaching you, loving you, and when I ask you to do one thing, you can’t even stay awake? Seriously?
And then the first in a series of betrayals. I would have known it was coming, but the knowing would not have mitigated my anger; it would have enflamed it. Seriously, Judas, I would have thought (if not said), I have spent the past 3 years with you, teaching you, loving you, and you make up lies about me and sell me out to the lowest bidder? Oh wait; there wasn’t even an auction. You, out of your own free will, which I let you exercise, by the way, decided to go to my enemies and turn traitor for no good reason. For a few measly silver coins. Seriously?
Then the ear lopping off. Finally, I would have thought (if not said), since I have spent the past 3 years with you, teaching you, loving you, at least one of you, thank you, Peter, finally took up my cause. Finally. I would not have healed the soldier’s ear. I just wouldn’t have. I wouldn’t have condoned Peter’s action, but I don’t know that I would have chastised him for it either.
Then the fighting. Oh wait, let’s pretend like I wouldn’t have used all of the deity at my disposal to launch an epic battle that looked like a mash up of Disney’s Sorcerer’s Apprentice and a light saber fight with me at the helm as a terrifying puppet master. Yeah. Let’s pretend I wouldn’t have done that. Let’s instead envision what would have happened next if I had surrendered myself peacefully.
Then the kangaroo courts. Bounced between soldiers and pontiffs would have ignited both fury and pride in me. Seriously, I would have thought (if not said), I have spent the past 3 years with you, teaching you, loving you, and you still have to ask if I’m the King of the Jews? Heck yeah, I’m the King of the Jews. Have you paid any attention at all? At all? Any attention? Even a little bit? At all? Seriously?
Then the beatings and calumny and torture. Again, I don’t think I would have lasted past this point, but let’s pretend like I would have. The stripping off of my garments, the ripping out of my beard, the crown of thorns being thrust into my flesh, the spitting in my face, the mocking, the 39 lashes with the cat o’ 9 tails, the blood streaming down my torn flesh, my shredded back, the humiliation would have been soul crushing and body rending, but I would have known I still had the love of my God and my disciples. Seriously, I would have thought (if not said), I have spent the past 3 years with you, teaching you, loving you, and in a moment of mob mentality you lose all sense of right and wrong, good and evil? Seriously?
Then another, deeper betrayal. I knew Peter was going to betray me; I even told him he would. Like a self-important human, he denied the impending denials, but deny me he did. Three times. The glance we shared would have saddened me. Seriously, I would have thought (if not said), I have spent the past 3 years with you, teaching you, loving you, and you allowed your fear to throw our friendship aside? Seriously?
Then carrying the cross. Exhaustion would have over-taken my body. Seriously, I would have thought (if not said), I have spent the past 3 years with you, teaching you, loving you, and only one person paused to help me, and he was conscripted to do so. Seriously?
I know I never would have made it to Calvary. I would have been too bruised, bloody, and beaten – spiritually, physically, and emotionally. But let’s continue to pretend that despite the betrayal by my closest associates and the denial by people who loved me and the torture and the lies and the sleep deprivation and the hunger and the thirst, let’s pretend that I made it all the way to Calvary to be crucified.
Then the cross. Fear would have welled up inside of me when I saw the soldiers come at me with spikes nearly a foot long instead of rope to fasten me to the cross. A soul-crushing cry would have passed my lips as they pounded a spike through one hand and then the other. And then more anguish would have followed when they pounded the spike through both of my feet, jammed together in a way that anatomy never intended. Perhaps I would have passed out from the pressure on my lungs and heart when they raised the cross to its ultimate upright position. Seriously, I would have thought (if not said), I have spent the past 3 years with you, teaching you, loving you, and you didn’t realize that when I said, “If I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all people to Myself” I meant this ignominious death? Seriously?
Then the forsaking. The moment when I was at my physical and emotional limit and the guilt of all sin ever committed or ever to be committed weighed on me, I would have thought I still had my relationship with my Father. But when He turned His back on me because His holiness couldn’t look upon such sin and shame, I would have cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Seriously, I would have thought (if not said), I have spent the past 3 years obeying You and teaching them and loving them, and it is enough. Seriously. It is enough. I am not only human, but I am all human, and it is enough.
I never would have gotten to the part when Jesus said, “It is finished,” because I would have stopped at “It is enough.”
If I were Jesus, I would never have died on the cross. I would have called down legions of angels to save me, and in saving myself, I would have condemned the entire world to death and eternal separation from God. I would have stayed strong as long as I could have, but eventually, my selfish nature would have won the day, and the entire planet would have reaped the consequences.
But fortunately God didn’t choose me to bear the sin of the world. He chose His Son. His Son who was completely human so he felt all of our pains. His Son who was completely divine that He could bear up under the weight of the sin that separates us from God.
He chose His Son and gave Him to us – the ungrateful people who betrayed Him, and denied Him, and beat Him, and mocked Him, and lied about Him, and humiliated Him, and tortured Him, and condemned Him, and killed Him. He gave His Son to us because despite our sin, despite our incapacity to appreciate the gift He was giving, He wants to have a relationship with us. His love for us made the sufferings of His Son worth it to restore the broken relationship.
His love for us overshadows anything we are capable of even understanding.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
If I were Jesus, I would never have sacrificed my life, and without that sacrifice, I would never have ben resurrected from the dead. But thankfully, Jesus isn’t like me.
Jesus did seriously live and spend His last 3 years on earth teaching and loving people. He seriously did face betrayal, denial, torture, and humiliation. He seriously did get nailed to a cross. Even while on that cross, Jesus had compassion on lost humanity who had condemned Him to die and said, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Seriously. And instead of saying “It is enough,” as any human would understand, He said, “It is finished.”
“It is finished.” With those 3 words, Jesus accomplished His mission. He bore our sins, and He suffered the punishment that we deserve. He could allow Himself, finally, to die.
But His death was not final. Instead of staying dead, Jesus was resurrected. In so doing, He defeated the power death holds over humans. He showed that although everyone must die, death is not the end. The end is life everlasting. For everyone.
And we, we get to choose. We can choose to believe in Jesus and reap the everlasting life with Him that His resurrection promises. Or we can choose to ignore Jesus’ sacrifice and reap an everlasting life separated from Him in hell.
God didn’t give us His Son as a sacrifice for us to wind up in hell separated from Him and outside of relationship with Him. God sent Jesus to die for us so that we could come to Him and live under His love and protection. God never intended hell for His creation, but He gives us the free will to choose.
If I were Jesus, I never would have been able to reconnect God and humans. But if I were you, I would believe in Jesus’s sacrifice and accept the eternal life that He promises. Seriously.