Why? – As an adverb the word means ‘For what purpose, reason, or cause; with what intention, justification, or motive.’ As a noun it infers ‘a reason or explanation.’
Parents soon realise that this is one of the first words their children learn. It’s so often repeated that it seems to be the only word they know!
We regularly relax by watching old movies. A favourite has always been the classic TV cult series The Prisoner in which its creator, the late Patrick McGoohan, played an unnamed British secret agent who, on suddenly resigning under unusual circumstances, is taken captive to a mysterious locale in Wales known as The Village to be interrogated as to his real motive – in the mind of his inquisitors a big Why?
In one episode Number 6 (as he’s referred to) turns the tables on his inquisitors who are using The General – a so-called invincible machine built by a learned professor and that apparently knows everything and answer to any question. When it’s about to be asked who in the Village is secretly assisting Number 6, the prisoner interrupts by requesting to type in a question that he claims cannot be answered.
‘Impossible,’ he’s told. ‘There’s no question The General can’t answer.’
When the question is inserted the machine abruptly goes haywire, smoke and sparks flying everywhere. To the total amazement of the inquisitors, it explodes and disintegrates.
His question that he then states as being ‘Insoluble to man and machine’? One unanswerable word – ‘Why?
An Easter Why?
Several decades ago a prominent Melbourne businessman took us to lunch and while relaxing after the very enjoyable meal he steered the conversation to Christian matters, especially the approaching Easter.
As we shared on the real reason for this celebratory season – what we believe to be the most important event in the church calendar – and recounted the gospel story of the Son of God being cruelly treated and then crucified on Calvary, our friend suddenly exploded in wrath and distress.
‘Why?’ he vehemently asked. ‘Why? If Jesus were here today in this city, cruelly beaten and wrongly accused and imprisoned, about to be put to death on a cross, I’d raise an army and storm that prison and release him. They would not do to him what they did 2000 years ago while I’m here!’
We looked at his face and it was obvious that he was deadly serious: in fact later some friends commented that because of his connections he could probably carry out his dramatic statement. (He’d been active in WW2 and to the consternation of enemies had escaped from prisons and from entrapment on a few occasions).
He was a good man whose mother had regularly prayed for him – he credited his escapes to her prayers to a God who heard and cared. In sharing the gospel with him, he confessed he too prayed to God, that Jesus was the son of God and that he’d been a good man.
But this was a religious thing – he hadn’t grasped the truth that because we are all sinners we all need a Saviour and need to ask forgiveness of sin and accept Jesus as the one who had to die to save us. The personal relationship with God through Jesus was missing – he just couldn’t grasp the reason why Jesus had to be dealt with so viciously by evil men and crucified.
No matter how much we tried to show that in God’s purposes Jesus’ sacrifice had to happen as it did, indeed salvation could occur no other way than by Calvary, he repeatedly shook his head sorrowfully, unable to grasp the facts of this greatest of all historical events.
Later we must have sat together in his expensive plush car for over an hour as we endeavoured to lead him into an understanding of this wonderful mystery – that Jesus as the Christ, the messiah, had to die to redeem humankind!
Sadly he eventually said farewell with a heavy heart. Our hearts felt heavy too – for a different reason – and we prayed for him that the revelation of Christ and the real purpose of Easter would come to his troubled mind.
Christians are privileged
As we left him it came to us afresh that everyone who has had the glorious revelation that Jesus is our Saviour, that his horrible but substitutionary death on Calvary was the only way of paying the price for our sins and has received Christ within is a privileged person.
By accepting Jesus as Saviour we mean a genuine conversion – not some wishy-washy response to a quick altar call to ‘just accept Jesus into your heart and you’ll go to heaven.’ But through meaningfully accepting God’s John 3:16 way to salvation, genuinely repenting of sins and determining to follow Jesus whatever the personal costs.
Let’s face it… the crucifixion and horrible death of the Son of God, the greatest and most loving person ever is a tremendous mystery. We do need, by God’s grace, a revelation to understand why he had to die so cruelly in order to pay the penalty for our sins. O what love Jesus had for us and how incredible the why of God, how intricate his plan, how deep his motive, how meaningful his reason – as various scriptures claim and many churches will meaningfully proclaim this Easter.
Our friend left us, echoing again the word ‘Why?’
Many are still asking that question. What a wonderful event the real story of Easter is – nor about chocolate eggs and bunny rabbits but about the greatest friend anyone can ever have, who willingly gave his life for all on an ugly cross at Calvary, died and gloriously rose again as he trusted God.
We encourage every Christian to take whatever opportunities come up over this Easter period to share your faith with those who ask ‘Why?’ Pray that a revelation with come to them, that they will not be blind like our friend, that the Holy Spirit will get through to them and they too will know the why of Jesus’ substitutionary death over 2000 year ago.
Calvary! What an amazing event engineered by Father God. No army on earth or from heaven for that matter could have stopped it occurring: It had to happen to fulfil the promise of scripture. John 3:16 is still the heart of it all – ‘This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life’ (Message Bible, emphasis ours).
We’ll celebrate the reality of Easter as we worship the risen Saviour, especially on Resurrection Sunday. And when we have those opportunities to share with unchurched folk, let’s pray they receive a revelation of why Jesus had to to die as he did.
This month’s links: Opinion – Rick Marschall’s The Second Most Important Day of Your Life / Missional – George Forbes’ Goldmine! – The Message of Easter / Inspirational – Carol Round’s Jesus Really Understands Our Trials / Biblical Perspectives – Jim McClure’s The Exalted Christ