Ask any number of Christians why Jesus came to earth and you are likely to receive an equal number of different answers. While one camp will advance the statement “To die for our sins,” others will quote the Gospel according to John and the verse “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” While the unbeliever is likely to be confused by the difference in emphasis, those sharing the cardinal precepts of their faith are always free to choose what amounts to the lead line for the greatest story of all time.
Time provides the essential context for our story. When Jesus was born into this world as a helpless babe, Isaiah had already put forth the question: “”How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How are you cast down, you who dared to confuse the worlds!” During his short sojourn on earth, as the Son of Man; Jesus was, in weakness, made powerful by faith and through submission to the will of Our Father.
Prior to the Incarnation Christ had declined to quash the Lucifer Rebellion by power and might. Lucifer’s blasphemous pretensions and shameful misrepresentations resulted in tremendous losses among the children of light. John in the Book of Revelations referred several times to the dragon that became the enduring symbol of the insurrection. He wrote:
- “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon” . . .
- “And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth” . . .
- In referring to God’s angel John said: “And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
Jesus referred to the devil as the Prince of this world. When the disloyal prince was confronted by the Sovereign of our universe incarnated as Jesus, a great humanity that had been rebellion-segregated was then, depending upon individual choice, liberated, set spiritually free. What Christ had chosen not to do, by the power of arbitrary authority, he did as the Son of Man. When Jesus said: “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you” he not only threw us a life line, but also revealed that Heaven abides personally. Our Heavenly Father actually resides within us.
Now you may be wondering why, as John wrote, the dragon was “loosed a little season.” Any understanding of why must be informed by taking a deep dive into the concept of free will. When we pray to Our Father; “Not my will but your will be done” or “It is my will that your will be done,” we are acknowledging the gift of personal volition. God could have easily created a race of automatons and yet, for a variety of reasons, he chose not to.
The Book of Genesis quotes God as saying “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
John Wycliffe, in the preface to his 14th Century bible translation to Middle English, made it clear that the bible advances “government of, by, and for the people.” The offended priesthood of his day, dug up and burned his bones. Lucifer, and apparently some priests of Wycliffe’s time, would deny the unalienable right of individuals, communities, nations, and even worlds to be the arbiters of their own destiny.
The Son of God had declined, through the exercise of his creator prerogatives to discredit the those individuals fomenting insurrection. Instead, as the Son of Man, one who was made lower than the angels for a time, he then wrested dominion from the hands of the fallen. In so doing the whole local universe in all fairness clearly and forever recognized the mercy as well as the justice.
The next time you, or a friend in the grips of an atheist perspective, are caught up in the question “If God is all powerful, why does he allow such human misery to exist,” consider the wisdom behind the time lag, wherein the dragon must be loosed for a season.
God will not allow his justice to destroy what mercy can save. The careful response to Lucifer’s sophistries is a clear indication that God wants us to be free and un-coerced in making a deliberate choice. The Father, and the sons for The Father desire only that loyalty and devotion that is voluntary, wholehearted, and sophistry-proof. We are the ultimate beneficiaries.