Summary: Why did Jesus have to come down to earth and suffer a death just like any other human being? The Book of Hebrews offers some interesting answers
Today is celebrated as Palm Sunday in traditional Churches. BBF (www.bangalorebiblefellowship.in )is not a traditional Church, and hence we do not specifically celebrate Palm Sunday. Most of us know what happens during Palm Sunday. The celebration is to remember Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, on a donkey. The people welcomed Him with palm leaves. Palm leaves are considered to be a symbol of triumph and victory in Jewish custom (Leviticus 23:40 and Revelation 7:9) The Pam Sunday is celebrated in many ways, one of the common rituals being the small crosses made of palm leaves and the procession around the church. Of course in the more conventional churches the palm crosses are blessed and the left over palm crosses are burned for getting ash for the next years Ash Wednesday. There are some of them who retain the crosses as a sacrament till the next year and then burn it before the Ash Wednesday to get ashes.
A 6 year old boy had to stay back at home because of a sore throat, on a Palm Sunday. His parents went to church and came back with palm branches in their hands. The boy asked about this and was told by the mother “ They held it over the head of Jesus when he walked by”. The disappointed boy said. “Oh brother. One Sunday I stay away from Church and he chooses to show up on that day”
Traditionally preachers use Palm Sunday to help people think about the strength of their commitment and faith. So let me ask you about faith today.
Thinking of faith, there is this story told by none other than Narayan Murthy, the Chief mentor of Infosys. An airline company decided to do an experiment with the CEOs of software companies. They invited the CEOs to what they called as a “flight of technology”. The CEOs came in , and were seated inside the plane one by one. After all of them seated, it was announced that the flight is a “crew less flight” and the entire flight will be done without any pilots in the cockpit. Parellaly, each CEO was privately also told that the software that drives the plane was developed by his own company. Slowly, one by one, each of the CEOs started finding one excuse or another to get off the plane. After a little while , only one CEO was left and the organizers of the event were very impressed with him and they went to congratulate him on the faith that he has on his employees. He smiled and said to them. “ Yes, I have nothing to worry. I am confident that if my engineers designed the software, the plane will never even take off”
Fortunately for us, our faith is not like that. Our faith is based on the life, death and resurrection of a man who walked the earth 2000 years ago. And the beauty is that he walked the earth just like you and me, fully human. This has always been an area of great interest for me, why did Jesus have to live life like a man, like you and me. It is easy for me to comprehend the 100% divine nature of Jesus. He was God, and he was with God even before the creation of the earth. So fi he chose to come down to earth it is no big deal. But why the 100% human nature? Why did he have to go through the life like any human being? Why could he not live life like the Krishna Avatar that our Hindus are used to? Why did he have to experience hunger , thirst, tiredness, pain, tears, joy etc just like you and me? Especially during the holy week when we specifically remember Jesus’ arrest, trial, journey to the cross and the crucifixion, it is appropriate that we ponder over this question a little bit.
The book of Hebrews provides some interesting answers to these questions.
The book of Hebrews was written to an audience who were struggling with faith, people who were Judaic Christians struggling with doubts about the relevance of Christianity, struggling to see if Christianity was in any way “better” than the Judaism that they were following. After all, Jews were a nation chosen by God. The most hunted and the most hurt people on earth (A well known Jewish writer went to extent of asking “God, I know we are the chosen people, but why did you not choose some one else?” ) So what is different about Christianity that they should follow this Jesus of Nazareth? What is different about him that they should take that plunge? None of us are Jews here, but we may be faced with similar questions, either within ourselves, or from our friends, or neighbors, or families. Ravi Zacharia in his book, “Jesus among other gods” says “Philosophically, you can believe anything, so long as you do not claim it to be true, Morally, you can practice anything, so long as you do not claim it to be a ’better’ way. Religiously, you can hold to anything, so long as you do not bring Jesus Christ into it. How does one, to a mood such as this, communicate the message of Jesus Christ, in which Truth and absoluteness are not only assumed, but sustained?"