|What Was the Purpose of It All?|
"God has landed on this enemy-occupied world in human form," states C.S. Lewis in "The Perfect Penitent" (chapter 4, book 2 of Mere Christianity). "What was the purpose of it all? What did He come to do? Well, to teach, of course; but as soon as you look into the New Testament or any other Christian writing you will find they are constantly talking about...His death and His coming to life again. It is obvious that Christians think the chief point of the story lies there. They think the main thing He came to earth to do was to suffer and be killed."
|Very Hard to Do|
"Man had tried to set up on his own, to behave as if he belonged to himself.... Fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement: he is a rebel who must lay down his arms. Laying down your arms, surrendering, saying you are sorry, realising that you have been on the wrong track and getting ready to start life over again from the ground floor...this movement full speed astern—is what Christians call repentance. Now repentance is no fun at all. It is something much harder than merely eating humble pie. It means unlearning all the self-conceit and self-will that we have been training ourselves into for thousands of years. It means killing part of yourself....In fact, it needs a good man to repent. And here comes the catch. Only a bad person needs to repent."
"Can we do it if God helps us? Yes, but what do we mean when we talk of God helping us? We mean God putting into us a bit of Himself....He lends us a little of His reasoning powers and that is how we think: He puts a little of His love into us and that is how we love one another....We now need God's help in order to do something which God, in His own nature, never does at all—to surrender, to suffer, to submit, to die. Nothing in God's nature corresponds to this process at all....But supposing God became a man—suppose our human nature which can suffer and die was amalgamated with God's nature in one person—then that person could help us. He could surrender His will, and suffer and die, because He was man; and He could do it perfectly because He was God.... This is [one] sense in which He pays our debt, and suffers for us what He Himself need not suffer at all.
|Thank God for the Advantage of the Rescuer!|
"I have heard some people complain that if Jesus was God as well as man, then His sufferings and death lose all value in their eyes, 'because it must have been so easy for Him'. Others may (very rightly) rebuke the ingratitude and ungraciousness of this objection; what staggers me is the misunderstanding it betrays....The perfect submission, the perfect suffering, the perfect death were not only easier to Jesus because He was God, but were possible only because He was God....If I am drowning in a rapid river, a man who still has one foot on the bank may give me a hand which saves my life. Ought I to shout back (between my gasps) 'No, it's not fair! You have an advantage! You're keeping one foot on the bank'? That advantage—call it 'unfair' if you like—is the only reason why he can be of any use to me. To what will you look for help if you will not look to that which is stronger than yourself?"
Highlights from chapter 4: The Perfect Penitent, book 2: What Christians Believe in Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. Click here for a clear view of how this chapter relates to the whole book.