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Question

Why did Christ have to be a brutally tortured Jewish man to forgive us? Being an omnipotent and all-powerful God, couldn't he just simply forgive us? He knew 100% beforehand that Adam would pick the fruit because God is omniscient, yet he still put the tree there. Why didn't God show up in human form in China where they could read or do science? Why did he show up in the illiterate Middle East where everyone was superstitious?

Answer

Thank you for your questions. There is much to talk about in response to what you have asked, and I hope that this relatively short answer will go some way to helping you in your journey towards God. I am going to break your question down into a few areas and will answer briefly on each one:

1. Firstly, you ask why Jesus had to be Jewish. The answer to this is that there is no particular reason why Jesus needed to be Jewish over and above any nationality. In one way it doesn’t matter at all what nationality Jesus was, and yet God had eternally ordained it and set it up from roughly 2000 years before Jesus was born that He would come from the family line of Abraham. The story of much of the Old Testament is the story of how God related to the Jewish people who He had chosen as His own special people. Deuteronomy 7:7-8 tells us why God chose the people of Israel, or rather why He didn’t chose them:

It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

Even in choosing this people, God was making a statement about who He is - He is a God who loves to choose the least and the lowest and to turn them into something great for His own glory - and this is the purpose of all God’s dealings with Israel. He is teaching all of us something of His character, and using this people to begin to reveal His plan of salvation for all humanity. There was nothing special about Israel that caused God to choose them, and yet they are the people who He called to be an example to the world of how He relates to His people, and to be the vehicle through whom He would bring His Son Jesus into this world as our Saviour.

2. Secondly, and related to the first question, you ask why Jesus couldn’t have come to a more educated nation such as China. I’m not sure exactly what your reasoning behind this is, but I’m guessing it may be because the testimony of Jesus may seem more reliable if it came from a more educated people than the Jews of the 1st century.

It is true that some of those who saw first hand all that Jesus did and wrote down for us the records of His life were uneducated, but if anything that just makes their testimony even more amazing. Jesus took a rough and ready bunch of men, including fisherman Andrew, Peter, James and John, and after spending a few years with them He sent them out with the mission of changing the world in His name, and that is exactly what they did. Others marvelled that these uneducated men could speak of Jesus with such authority (Acts 4:13).

God isn’t interested in building a church full of ‘clever’ people in the world's eyes, but rather He reveals the simple truths of who He is to those people who would be despised in the world's eyes, and He proceeds to transform them into men and women who love and serve Him, and bring Him glory by the way in which they live.

Knowing God has never just been the privilege of the educated, but rather is obtained by all those who would have a simple faith or trust in the truth that God reveals to them, and God is more than able to reveal the truth to anyone regardless of their background.

The message that these simple men took forward, the Good News of Jesus Christ, has since travelled over the whole world and some 2 billion people would call themselves Christians (Christ followers) today.

3. Thirdly, you ask the incredibly deep question of why God put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the middle of the garden of Eden in the first place. If He knew that Adam and Eve would eat the fruit (and He did know) then it seems He could have saved a lot of trouble by removing the tree and removing the potential for them to fall at all. This isn’t an easy question to answer, and the Bible doesn’t give a clear or concise statement that tells us why God set things up as He did, but there are some things we do know.

Firstly, it must have something to do with the fact that God wanted to give us as human beings a measure of free-will and choice in the way we live our lives. Sometimes we can overstate the amount of choice we really have as human beings and insist upon our free will to the exclusion of God's sovereignty. That is to misrepresent the Bible; ultimately it is God who is in control of all of life. But neither is it correct to see God as all powerfully deciding all things beforehand to the extent that we are detached from him and our responsibility is invalidated. God has clearly given us some influence and responsibility over the direction of our lives, he doesn't want us to love and serve Him out of compulsion or as robots but because of a decision of our wills. Adam and Eve were in a real and personal relationship with God who would walk in the garden with them. Their sin was not seen from afar by a cold and detached god; it broke a real and immediate relationship.

Secondly we can make a general statement of the fact that everything God does is good, and so there must be a greater purpose in what God has done than there would have been had He not given Adam and Eve that option to sin. This can be clearly seen when you think of the experience of a believer when it comes to this life and eternity. The glory of heaven that all those who trust Jesus will experience can only seem sweeter for having faced the hardships and pain of this life, and we can add to that the fact that had we never sinned, Jesus would never have had to reveal the depth and the glory of God’s love for us by dying for us. Whatever the fullness of the answer to your question might be, we can be sure that the end will be greater than the beginning, because the plans of God are perfect.

4. One last subject I want to pick out from your question, and it’s the connected questions of why Jesus had to be a ‘brutally tortured’ man to forgive us, and also why God couldn’t just simply forgive us without Jesus having to go through what He did.

The answer to both of these questions is tied up in the seriousness of the sin that we commit against God. We tend to try and justify ourselves and think that we’re not actually that bad, but the Bible paints a far different picture. It tells us that even the good things that we think we do are like ‘filthy rags’ (Isaiah 64:6). Far from just having made a few ‘mistakes’ that we can simply atone for by better behaviour, we have sinned against God, and the truth is that we deserve to be punished severely for the sin we have committed.

We’re not just talking here about the ‘obvious’ sins of murder, rape and other crimes that are commonly seen as serious, but we’re also talking about the more internal sins of pride and self-righteousness that we are all guilty of, and are just as serious in God’s eyes. All of us have fallen short of the standard that God requires of us (Romans 3:23), and are therefore worthy of the ‘wages’ of our sin, which the Bible says is death (Romans 6:23).

Not only is our sin extremely serious, but the Bible also tells us that God is holy, and is therefore completely separate from sin. God is also described as light, with no darkness in Him whatsoever (1 John 1:5), and because of these truths, God must punish the sin that we have committed. He is a just judge who must always do what is right (Psalm 7:11), and therefore just cannot sweep our sin under the carpet. We too have something of God’s sense of justice in-built into us - just imagine your reaction to a judge who allows a clearly guilty criminal off the hook just because he wants to - we’d all react in horror at a judge like that, because deep down we know justice must be done.

These truths lead us to the all important question of whether there is any way that God can forgive us of our sin. Thankfully, in His wisdom, God has made a way that sinful men and women like you and me can be forgiven of all our sin, and can come back into a perfect relationship with Him. This plan of salvation gives us the answer to your question of why God allowed Jesus to be brutally tortured. You see, the only way in which any of us can be released from the punishment we deserve is if someone takes that punishment for us, and the only person who would be able to do this is a completely perfect person who has no sin of their own to be punished for. This is why Jesus, the eternal Son of God came into this world - to live a sinless life, and then to die the death that you and I deserve, so that we can go free. That is why Jesus had to be so brutally tortured. As the perfect Son of God He was able to bear the guilt for the sin of the world, so that anyone who would put their trust in Him could be forgiven.

God the Father allowed His Son to go through terrible pain and suffering - even more terrible than the physical pain we read about; it was as if Jesus suffered hell on the cross in our place so that we could go free.

Even Jesus, in His last hours before He was crucified cried out to His Father asking if there was another way that He could save God’s people (Matthew 26:39), but there clearly was no other means by which God could have dealt with our sin, and brought us back into that right relationship with Him that was spoiled by our sin. The book of 1 Peter explains what Jesus did like this:

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God. (1 Peter 3:18)

Jesus, the righteous one, bore our pain and suffering in our place, so that we, the unrighteous, could be brought to God, and ultimately could spend all of eternity with Him in heaven.

I hope that these brief answers to your questions have been helpful, but I must end this answer by asking you the most important question of all - what is your response to these things? You see, there must come a point where the questions must stop, and we must make our decision - do I believe that Jesus Christ truly is the only one who can deal with my sin, and bring me into relationship with God. Maybe you are at that point now, or maybe you still have questions that need answering, but I urge you not to delay - continue to seek until you find. The Bible tells us that ‘today is the day of salvation(2 Corinthians 6:2), and the honest truth is that none of us know how long we might have left in this life - there is nothing more important than being sure of your standing before God, and that when this life does end you will spend forever with Him in glory.

If you want to know more about what Jesus has done for you please watch the video on the main part of our site: www.lookingforGod.com

In closing, I want to encourage you to get more involved with your local church. It would be good to speak to a Christian leader or another trusted church individual regarding your question. I know they would be delighted to further answer you as well as offer prayer and support as you continue your spiritual journey:
www.lookingforgod.com/churchfinder

Please use our Interactive Answer Matrix and feel free to ask another question. Our helpful staff are praying for you and waiting to try and answer to you from the Bible, and will be delighted to tell you more about Jesus Christ the Lord, the Saviour of the world. 
www.lookingforgod.com/your-questions

Here are some more Bible Verses for your further consideration:

  • Luke 22:39-46
  • Colossians 2:8-15
  • Genesis 12:1-3

*All Scripture references are taken From The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise

*If anything in this answer affects you directly, then please feel free to call our confidential prayer line in the UK on 0845 4567729, where trained Christian volunteers will take your call and pray both for you and with you. If you are outside of the UK then you may submit your request for prayer on line at www.ucb.co.uk/prayerline


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