On Monday evening, one of the young people asked, “Would it have been better if Jesus didn’t die? Like, if I went into a time machine, went back in time and prevented him from being killed, would that have been better?”
What a wonderful question! I responded by explaining that Jesus came to save us, not to be saved and that, by dying, he showed us the greatest love that anyone can have – selfless love even to the point of giving up one’s life. Likewise, Jesus’ death allowed God to show his power over death, through the Resurrection. There is no avoiding pain, suffering, and death. But now we know that God can overcome all – even death.
How interesting, though, to see the compassion that underlies this question. The young man who asked it is not unlike Peter who couldn’t stomach the thought of Jesus undergoing any form of suffering. Peter, like my student and like most of us, did not understand that the only way to save one’s life is to lose it. (Matthew 16:22-25)
And this question came from one of the students who has given me the hardest time all year! You never know.