Hypothetically, let’s say Jesus never went to Jerusalem. He was never sentenced to die, or He was secreted out of the city by His devoted disciples. He continued to preach, teach and spread His message until He died of natural causes at an advanced age.
Would Christianity still be a worldwide religion, or would it have died with Jesus?
The biggest conflict I have with my faith, isn’t believing or not believing that Jesus died and was resurrected. It’s just wanting to know why He had to died in the first place and in the manner He did. Why was being the Son of God not enough?
I’m not debating His deity, not denying Him being the earthly Son of God. What I want to know, what no one has been able to articulate to me, is… what did His dying change? I know the biblically annotated responses, I want the historical, the cultural, the actual effect.
Up until the point of His death and resurrection, what did people of that era believe they had to do, what ritual or offering had to be made, to secure entrance into the Kingdom of God? It certainly wasn’t the simple profession of faith that is required now.
I’ve read the stories about Jesus’ anger at the money changers in the temple. That they were selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifice. (My religious education tells me it wasn’t the sacrifices He objected to, but rather selling animals and exchanging money inside the temple.)
Was the pathway into heaven through blood sacrifice? Even in the story of Cain and Abel, Abel’s offering from his flock was favored over Cain’s offering of crops. Is it the brutality of religion what no one is willing to discuss? Was the death of Jesus the ultimate ritual killing? Through His death, was the need for further sacrifice eliminated?
This question has taunted me for many years, and I don’t expect to find the answer any time soon. Until I do, I can only live my life as best I can, hoping I’m doing something right.
I’m amused by people who want to rail about the rationality of religion. Saying that people of faith are weak-minded lemmings who are merely worshipping an imaginary friend in the sky. It’s no more irrational than believing that the entire universe, as vast and ever-expanding that it is, was created by some microscopic, spontaneous explosion.