Most of us at some time in our life think about what is our purpose here on earth. Does our existence have any meaning? One way to test this is to ask, “What am I prepared to die for?” Is there anything or anyone who means so much to you that you would lay your life on the line for them?
This is Holy Week in which Christians remember the events of the last days in the life of Jesus, leading up to his crucifixion on a cross. Although the story is more detailed than the way the rest of Jesus’ life is told, the aim of the storytellers is not to tell how Jesus died, but why. They also stress that this was the way that Jesus wanted to go. They say that he was not under the control of anyone else, either Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor, or the religious hierarchy of Jerusalem.
There are many moving examples of people who have donated organs to others, kidneys for example, that can save someone’s life. There are also stories of a few who have taken the place of others in the line leading to the death chamber, and who have died in their stead.
Another kind of willingness to die for others is that shown in the lives of martyrs. I don’t mean those who go on suicide missions to kill others, but those who stick to their beliefs, their cause for justice, even if it means they lose their lives. Perhaps Martin Luther King is one example.
Jesus can be compared to these examples. He is regarded by some as a martyr. A good man who stood up for the poor and oppressed. He is an inspiring example for us to follow, if we dare.
For many Christians he is more than this. Somehow, they believe, the life and death of Jesus releases us from what is wrong in our lives and in the life of the world. This too is a reason to follow his example: to live a life of love towards each and every neighbour. Because he loved us, we should love one another.
Did Jesus die in vain? I think he died for a purpose. But the question is, has that purpose been fulfilled or will it be fulfilled in the future? The Christian message of Easter is that it will be fulfilled. Jesus was justified in loving and dying the way he did, and events since and to come will show that his way of love is the best way for all of life to flourish. His death can help us learn how to live and gives us hope for the future.