The thing that you notice most about Jesus when you spend much time with the Biblical Gospels is how kindly and compassionate He is to the sick, to the poor, to women and children, and to anyone who is in any way less fortunate. Jesus is fully God in human form, and He is a sweet and decent Man. Unlike what we might think of as stereotypical religious leaders, who so often seem to delight in wielding God’s imagined punitive powers, Jesus deeply and truly loves each individual person. He enjoys and appreciates people, and He seems especially to love those that the mightiest find to be the least lovable. As He says to those who call Him out for His constant habit of socializing and even dining with tax collectors and other outcasts, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. Now go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion, rather than sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (MT 9:12-13). And perhaps the most loving thing that Jesus did for all of humankind was to find a way to leave for us what might well be genuine proof on the Shroud of Turin not only that His life and His teachings are real, but also that no one actually dies.
Nearly all of the forty-two-thousand-odd versions of Christianity teach us that Jesus came to die on the cross to redeem us from God’s judgment for our sins. Like so much of what Christianity teaches, this idea did not come from Jesus! He tells us in the Gospel of John that God does not judge us, and neither does Jesus ever judge us.
Jesus’s farewell to His disciples as it is reported in the Gospel of John is worth quoting in full, both for what it says and for what it does not say. John’s is the most spiritual of the Biblical Gospels, and also the last of the four to be committed to writing. And it is beautiful. Jesus said, “Do not let your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if that were not so, I would have told you, because I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I am coming again and will take you to Myself, so that where I am, there you also will be. And you know the way where I am going.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going; how do we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.”
Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? The one who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own, but the Father, as He remains in Me, does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. Truly, truly I say to you, the one who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I am going to the Father. And whatever you ask in My name, this I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, so that He may be with you forever; the Helper is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him; but you know Him because He remains with you and will be in you.
“I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you. After a little while, the world no longer is going to see Me, but you are going to see Me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you are in Me, and I in you. The one who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and the one who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will reveal Myself to him.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, what has happened that You are going to reveal Yourself to us and not to the world?” Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will follow My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our dwelling with him. The one who does not love Me does not follow My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.
“These things I have spoken to you while remaining with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and remind you of all that I said to you. Peace I leave you, My peace I give you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, nor fearful. You heard that I said to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it happens, so that when it happens, you may believe. I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has no grounds for any accusation against Me, but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. Get up, let’s go from here” (JN 14:1-31).
We know now from nearly two hundred years of abundant and consistent afterlife evidence that in fact, Jesus did not die for our sins. There is no evidence that the death of Jesus on the cross has ever made an afterlife difference for a single human being. And afterlife researchers have looked hard for that evidence! If it existed, we would have found it. No, Jesus did not die for our sins. There was no need for Him to die for our sins. Instead, Jesus chose to offer Himself up to be humiliated, scourged, crowned with thorns, and then crucified, and in three days He was raised from the dead in order to prove to each of us that in fact there is no death. “Ta-DA!!” His ghastly public death and subsequent resurrection were His gift made in love to humankind. That demonstration made in perfect love was the last physical thing that He had left to give.