There a niggling question that has been in the back of my mind for a few weeks.
Not a big one, at least not to start with, but one that highlights another situation where what I've always been taught (and - I'll admit - accepted,without even a murmur of questioning) and what the bible seems to be teaching in a more complete sense glide past each other like Hogwarts staircases, reaching different landings and taking you off in different directions.
My question is this:
If, as I was always told, Jesus' primary reason for living was to die, and then be raised from the dead, why did he have to die the way he did? On a cross, violently, in his prime, at 33 years of age?
Could he not have simply lived until he was old, and then died, and then been raised?
If the aim of his life was simply to overturn the sin that Adam and Eve brought into the world, wouldn't that have done the job? Wouldn't that have demonstrated the final victory of God?
Obviously not... because when Jesus asked God if there was another way, the answer was pretty conclusively 'no'.
So Jesus did have to die the way that he did. Why?
I think there's a clue in the question of obedience... Philippians tells us, for example, that "He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross"
NT Wright even goes as far as to suggest that it was Christ's obedience, not just his death, that was crucial - his actually doing what Israel was supposed to have done - obeying God.
I've not finished unpacking this by any means, but if that's true - there's quite a difference between the Jesus I was taught about, for whom life was basically just a precursor to death, and a Jesus for whom life was also a key part of his mission.
... and what that means for me in how I live before I die.