”Solving the Ultimate Murder Mystery!”
By Pastor Ron Buxton
Most Americans have probably heard the Bible referred to as “God’s love letter to humanity”. And it certainly is. For example, John 3:16–the most popular Bible verse–declares: “For God so LOVED the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him would not perish, but have eternal life”. Without question, several more Bible verses repeat statements about God’s amazing love.
However, do you realize that within the pages of the Bible we also read about—what I have called—the “ultimate murder mystery in the history of the world”? Really. I’m not exaggerating. Please allow me to explain.
Good Friday is traditionally observed to remember the death of Christ on the cross. That much is not a mystery. Many extra-biblical scholars wrote about that historical event. And nobody has ever challenged that. So—why did He die? Simple question. Frankly, that’s why it’s the ultimate unsolved murder mystery for billions of people. If not– how else can we explain so many unbelievers throughout history in light of the evidence?
To the Roman soldier eye-witnesses, it seemed like capital punishment for inciting rebellion against Caesar. To the religious elite at that time, Christ’s death was for blasphemy against God Himself. And, finally, to those earliest disciples of Jesus Christ (prior to His resurrection), the death on the cross appeared to be the greatest disappointment that they had ever known. So what was it? Why was Christ killed on that cross during the Jewish Passover in the 1st century? Surprisingly, I am convinced that even the vast majority of church goers are clueless to the complete answer itself!
Homicide detectives, after compiling forensic evidence, will often need to develop a so-called “motive” prior to releasing their findings for prosecution. It would become the hypothesis to provide reasoning for the murder. And it usually is the most useful information that will appear before the grand jury. In my opinion, not knowing the true motive for the death of Jesus (or imposing a wrong motive) has plagued the modern church—and has led to even more unbelief in our society.
Why? When the motive is ignored or misunderstood–as it is with the death of Christ—Good Friday becomes a literal “cold case” for billions of people! It was the late Scottish preacher Leonard Ravenhill who boldly stated: “If Jesus preached like too many modern-day preachers do today, He would never have been crucified!” That’s the problem. Modern pulpits avoid the unpopular topic of sin.
Yes. It was God’s love that motivated Christ’s death on the cross. However, His death continues to make no sense to an indifferent world around us. Frankly, folks must see their guilt and sin before a holy God. And we must rightly understand that both God’s justice and God’s love “collided” upon that cross! To not see the complete motive for Christ’s death has left untold billions of folks with “an ultimate unsolved murder mystery”! May God help us to proclaim the true meaning of Good Friday!