“So also Jesus suffered and died outside the city gates to make his people holy by means of his own blood” (Hebrews 13:12, NLT).
In our post-modern, politically correct world, explaining why Jesus had to not only die but endure torture as well can be difficult. The fact that God the Father sent him to the cross and watched it happen without coming to his rescue makes it even worse. Some go so far as to call it child sacrifice or child abuse and then turn away from him in disgust. Even Christians sometimes wonder if there wasn’t another way. If they don’t wonder, they live with cognitive dissonance—believing God is good and loving but because his anger and justice must be satisfied, Jesus had to be killed.
Jesus’ death was the plan of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit from the beginning and it wasn’t child sacrifice or abuse. Jesus figuratively jumped on the grenade to save his fellow soldiers from being blown up. As God in the flesh, he was the only one who could absorb the impact of sin and death without being destroyed himself. Just as we praise a Marine who sacrifices him or herself for the sake of others, so Jesus is our hero for showing bravery, courage and loyalty by giving his life to save ours in the ultimate act of love.
“The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent” (2 Peter 3:9, NLT).
Along with wondering why God doesn’t stop all the suffering goes the question, why doesn’t Christ come back and set up his Kingdom right now? Churches and “prophets” have been setting dates for years, even though Jesus himself didn’t even know when the end would come (Matthew 24:36). It’s best to live every day to the full and not worry about the future, realizing the end will most likely come when we draw our last breath.
We can’t hurry things along by setting dates and shouldn’t try to manipulate people by scaring them into repentance before the return of Christ. The Bible isn’t clear on this anyway, as exemplified by the lack of agreement on the subject (see the Four Views books for instance). God has a plan, which begins and ends with Jesus and he will not be hurried. His patience shouldn’t be confused with slowness or slackness, as some translations have it. His kindness toward all of humanity and his desire for everyone to turn to him can be somewhat incomprehensible to us, but we can trust his wisdom, be assured of his love and live in his grace until the end, however and whenever it comes.