In a famous painting by Harry Anderson a group of children are all gathered around a seated Jesus. The children are either looking at Jesus’ hands in surprise or into his face with an obvious question: “What happened to your hands?” Young children don’t necessarily ask why Jesus died? But if they see scars on another person’s body they want to know why. Whatever the explanation we give for Jesus’ death on the cross it must be rooted in love-the love of the Father and the Son for the world they created and reclaimed. And only a Jesus who shares deity with the Father can deal with sin and sinners in the Father’s name.
- How could we explain to a child why Jesus died? To a pre-schooler? Try translating the reasons offered for Jesus death into terms a child could understand?
- Was it an accident, something that should not have happened?
- Was Jesus hunted down and trapped by bad people?
- Did God have Jesus killed? If so, is God a murderer?
- Did Jesus die to make God happy?
- Did Jesus die so his Father could show us how much he loves us?
- Did Jesus take his own life to show us he loved us? How could that be? How would that be different from suicide?
- Did sin, something like a bad germ or virus, kill Jesus?
- Did Jesus die to show us what will or would happen to us when we have sin in our heart? (But Jesus didn’t do anything bad, did he?)
- Did Satan kill Jesus? Why wouldn’t God have stopped him? Does that mean he was stronger than God?
- Did Jesus die because we broke the rule and he paid the penalty? Is that fair?
- Did Jesus die so God could adopt us into his family?
- Are all of the above explanations true?? That is, are they taught in the Bible? What did the death of Jesus accomplish? Why did/does it “work”?
- Is it necessary to have the correct understanding of Jesus’ death in order to be saved by it?
- Where would one look in the New Testament for a fundamental understanding of Jesus’ death? The gospel of John? The letter to the Romans? Hebrews? Revelation?
- How crucial to understanding the meaning of Jesus’ death is the belief that he shared deity with the Father? What is lost by seeing Jesus as a human substitute?