Would You Save Jesus From a Murderer – Rebuttal

A short blog entry about how to send away Christians trying to share their faith by baffling them with an ethical & theological dilemma.  To cut to the chase, this person asks the Christian whether or not, if they had been present at the crucifixion of Jesus with their 21st century  theological understanding, if they would have saved him or not (assuming they had the power to do so).  

It’s hard to imagine that this should baffle Christians, but a lot of folks out there don’t read their Bibles like they should, or don’t see some of the problems with the basic setup.  So, let’s break this down a few different ways.
Theological insight – the premise of this ‘stumper’ grants you your current state of theological understanding.  In other words, it assumes that, while you are present at the crucifixion, you know what Christianity and the Bible teach about Jesus in the 21st century (which, incidentally, is exactly what it has taught since the first century).  This should help eliminate some confusion.
Know the Back story – In Matthew 16, Jesus reveals to his disciples that he’s going to go to Jerusalem and be executed.  Peter, always well-intentioned, takes Jesus to task for this clearly unenlightened vision of the future.  He’s attempting to talk Jesus out of what Jesus knows is his destiny.  Jesus’ response?  “Get behind me Satan!”  He compares Peter’s desire to turn Jesus from his task with Satan’s desire to tempt Jesus to do things his own way, rather than the way His Father has ordained, something which was attempted in Matthew 4.  The issue is the same with Satan and Peter.  Both are attempting to convince Jesus to do things differently, when Jesus apparently knows full well how he’s supposed to fulfill his obligations. Jesus knows what it means to be obedient, and anyone that acts contrary to this is ultimately advocating rebellion against God the Father.  
Apply the Back story – Jesus is incarnate as a man in order to live the perfect life of obedience that Adam & Eve were called to and failed, and that was asked of Israel, knowing that Israel couldn’t do it either.  Jesus is, theologically speaking, the nation of Israel in one man.  His obedience compensates for the inability of Israel – and all mankind – to live obediently as required by God the Father.  The culmination of this life of obedience is self-sacrifice.  Jesus substitutes himself – sinless and perfect – for Israel and all mankind.  He accepts the punishment that our rebellion against our Creator God demands of a just and righteous God.  Jesus death is not some sort of hijacking of his mission and ministry on Earth, though his accusers undoubtedly thought so.  Rather, it is the final step of obedience.  Thus, just as Jesus rebuked Peter for drawing his sword in the Garden of Gethsemane at Jesus’ arrest, so we would be rebuked for thinking that Jesus needed rescuing.  In attempting to save Jesus, knowing what we do post-resurrection, we would actually be guilty of working against the will of God the Father.  
Be Careful of Terms – unlike a typical situation, while we would be inclined to describe a murder as an act of deadly violence carried out against an unwilling individual, this definition does not fit Jesus’ crucifixion.  We could describe the motivations of Jesus’ opponents as murderous, but as noted above, Jesus was not an unwilling or unwitting victim.  We can’t apply our human-based ethics to the will of God regarding His incarnate Son.  It’s apples and oranges.  By using terms such as ‘save’ and ‘murder’, it is easy to apply our own standards about how we ought to act in these situations if it were a neighbor or family member.  But Jesus’ execution was not random, and not against his will.  He even assures Peter that, if he was not willingly going along with the travesty of justice taking place, he would have “legions of angels” at his defense (Matthew 26:53).  
Understand Love – charging the issue with emotionalism just confuses things further.  Do you love Jesus?  Then why wouldn’t you save him?  If you don’t save him, how can you say you love him?  However, remember that Jesus defines love as obedience to God the Father (John 14).  Love isn’t sentimentality or rash action.  Love is seeking to understand the will of God, and to act in accordance with it.  By this definition, we would demonstrate our love and respect for Jesus as well as God the Father by allowing Jesus to fulfill his role.  Would it be painful to watch?  Of course.  Is it terrible that such a sacrifice is a necessity?  By all means.  That is the devastating power of sin.  That we have no way to free ourselves, and are only freed by the work of Jesus.  How do we know that this is true?  The resurrection on the third day, which vindicated Jesus’ teaching & works, and which demonstrated that our punishment has been paid in full.  Jesus could return to life because he had fully paid for our rebellion and sinfulness.
So, it doesn’t seem to be much of a stumper, but you have to be careful to analyze the premise, and avoid substituting common cultural ways of thinking about things for Biblical ways of thinking about things.

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