Thursday, May 05, 2005

Why did Jesus have to let it happen?

When I ran across this example of Wendell Berry's writing, I was reminded of why he's one of my favorite authors. It's an excerpt from Berry's novel Jayber Crow. Not only does Berry have a profound grasp of the truths underlying rural life, American culture, and human nature, he is also gifted at theodicy. In this excerpt from Jayber Crow, the title character reflects on why Jesus chose the path of weakness and vulnerability, even to the point of death by crucifixion:

Christ did not descend from the cross except into the grave. And why not otherwise? Wouldn't it have put fine comical expressions on the faces of the scribes and the chief priests and the soldiers if at that moment he had come down in power and glory? Why didn't he do it? Why hasn't he done it at any one of a thousand good times between then and now?

I knew the answer. I knew it a long time before I could admit it, for all the suffering of the world is in it. He didn't, he hasn't, because from the moment he did, he would be the absolute tyrant of the world and we would be his slaves. Even those who hated him and hated one another and hated their own souls would have to believe in him then. From that moment the possibility that we might be bound to him and he to us and us to one another by love forever would be ended.

And so, I thought, he must forebear to reveal his power and glory by presenting himself as himself, and must be present only in the ordinary miracle of the existence of his creatures. Those who wish to see him must see him in the poor, the hungry, the hurt, the wordless creatures, the groaning and travailing beautiful world.


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