This blog begins chapter eight of the book in process Conversations About God. It originated as a series of lectures by Graham Maxwell in 1984. After each lecture Maxwell took written questions from the audience mediated through the pastor of the Loma Linda University Church at the time, Lou Venden. This marvelous series has never been put into book form, so I am attempting to do so and sharing the results in progress here with permission from the Maxwell family. The Bible contains many answers to the question, “Why did Jesus die?” One of the most compelling and persuasive answers to this question is articulated by Graham Maxwell in this chapter. The words that follow are Maxwell’s oral presentation, edited by me.
I’ve entitled this chapter “The Most Costly and Convincing Evidence,” and the question to be answered is “Why did Jesus have to die?” While there are so many texts that could be included in examining this topic, I have tried to limit myself to the ones that help to explain why Jesus had to die. I’ve called the cross the most costly and convincing evidence, because I believe that the unique and awful way in which Jesus suffered and died reveals something about our God and about His government that absolutely had to be clarified before trust and peace could be restored again. For as we have considered already, there has been a crisis of distrust in God’s universal family, even to the point of war in heaven as described in Revelation twelve.
Our God has been accused of being unworthy of the trust of His created beings, of being arbitrary, vengeful, and severe. He has particularly been accused of lying to His children, of lying about death being the result of sin. It does no good simply to deny such charges. God does not ask us to accept mere claims. It is only by the demonstration of trustworthiness over a long period of time and under a great variety of circumstances, particularly difficult ones, that trust can be re-established and confirmed. And so the Bible records that God sent His Son to deal with this breakdown of trust and trustworthiness in His family. In other words, He sent His Son to deal with sin (Rom 8:3).