The Fate of Jesus

Do you believe in fate? That is, do you believe the everyday events of your life are more or less predestined by God, and that everything good or bad that happens in your life are specific things God has orchestrated before you were ever born?

Or, do you believe in free will? That is, while you accept God has a general plan for your life, the everyday happenings of your life, good or bad, are more or less the product of your choices, mixed in with some stuff that randomly happens along the way.

Which of these perspectives do you think Jesus believed about His life?

It is obvious from even a casual reading of the gospels which Jesus believed. He believed in fate every step of the way. Everything that happened to Him, from His birth to the cross, was thought by Him to be the will of God for His life. Jesus is never found in the Gospels thinking that anything that happens to Him was accidental or random. "Coincidence" was not part of His vocabulary.  Even when His parents "accidentally" left Him behind in the temple in Jerusalem as they made the long trip home from their pilgrimage, a young Jesus saw this as part of God's plan for His life.  What Joseph and Mary probably looked back somewhat humorously as bad parenting, Jesus saw this mishap as Divine providence and even prophetic.

Which of these perspectives do you believe about your life?

This is where things often get dicey. For it is one thing to talk about God's plan for Jesus and predestination. "That's Jesus after all, ya know, the Son of God. Of course His life was planned!"  But when it comes to our lives, we often see God as being a bit less involved in our lives than He was in Jesus's life. It's as if His life was entirely planned, like somebody wrote His story in a book, and His life was merely words that came to life. While our life, on the other hand, has a lot more blank pages in it, to be filled in by us at a later date and time. 

Of course, we have a hard time accepting that our lives are so orchestrated by God. We accept truths for the Son of God's life that we are not willing to accept for ourselves, although we too are sons and daughters of God. For our life is full of moral shortcomings, tragedies, accidents, and seemingly boring mundane things. These are things that that were never a factor in the life of Jesus.  But, when factoring in these things to our story and God's involvement in that story, we create all sorts of theological dilemmas with our lives that we seldom do when we talk about the life of Jesus. 

If we are bound by fate and our lives are predestined, then it is often questioned:  Are we just mere puppets whose strings God pulls?  Is God the author of my sin?  Does He destine some people to heaven and others to hell? If so, how is that fair to people in hell?  Did God plan all these natural disasters that kill millions every year?  Did God cause a drunken driver to hit a car that had a newborn on board?  What about child abuse?  What about cancer?  What about rape?

These are heavy questions indeed. And depending on what camp you fall into theologically, you may feel you have some definite answers to all these questions. As a result, I would encourage some of you to avoid trying to comfort the sick and those who are recently widowed, as you would make better interrogators than comforters and counselors.  But regardless of how you would try to answer these difficult questions, as many men with giant brains have attempted to do, I think we would be better off not asking as many questions and attempting to put together riddled answers in response.  Job learned this lesson for us. Let us not often repeat what he went through.

Instead of having so many questions and answers to all these mysteries, I think we would do better to embrace the perspective that Jesus Christ had with His own life, and choose to believe that God has a predestined plan for every moment in our life.  Jesus was very radical in this. So much so that He would sometimes quote Bible verses from the Old Testament that have nothing directly to do with Him in their original historical context, and applies them to His life as if they did (a practice which has baffled many scholars). Such wasn't the practice of somebody who was playing loose with the Scriptures, or offering a new way of interpreting them, but such was the practice of somebody who saw God meeting Him wherever He was at.  He saw God writing His story, and He saw the story that God wrote in the Old Testament as part of that story. The story of God was His story, and He refused to divide that story in two. 

This needs to be our perspective.  We are quick to see God's hand in our lives when something big and wonderful happens. But when it comes to boring things, or things that are a bit more messy and violent, we tend to shy away from drawing any direct conclusions, and we get our scissors out and cut as much of God out as we comfortably can from our story. It is a safety net that perhaps keeps us from saying something blasphemous about God.  But in doing so, we in effect marginalize God from part of our lives and His involvement in this world.  And frankly, I'm not sure which is worse, the blasphemy or cutting God out. 

Which is worse, I'll let others ponder.  But at the end of the day, the example of Christ and the perspective by which He embraced life, as seeing by faith God actively being involved in every detail of our lives, and going so far as to number the very hair on our heads, is a perspective we need to embrace. We need to see God's plan for our lives involving the good things as well as the bad.  Even the things so terrible they are of seemingly no redeeming value.

In doing so we humbly yield ourselves over to God, so that like Christ we can say, "Not my will, but thy will be done."  And in doing so, whether or not we see ourselves as having our own will or not, we simply will not care, as we have given ourselves over to the One who has written our story into His.  Even if we have a will that is free and even if things happen rather randomly, we should live our lives as the One who ultimately yielded His will up to the One He saw as writing His story.

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