Friday, June 13, 2008

Faithbuster

Can God create a rock so heavy that he himself cannot lift it?
(This post was inspired by a dear friend and brother in the faith)

Have you ever considered this question? It presents a very real problem for faiths that hold to an omnipotent God; if God can create a rock so heavy that he himself cannot lift it, then he isn't powerful enough to lift it. If he can lift anything, then it seems he cannot create a rock so heavy that he can’t lift it.

A conundrum is what we have. Perhaps this question has provided a nice cushion of comfort for you so that you feel as though there is no God or if there is a God, that he isn’t powerful enough to even tell you who he is, let alone judge you. Or maybe you’ve brushed this question under the carpet in order to keep believing in God, claiming that it is a nonsensical question.

There are things that are impossible for God, such as compromising his perfection, but creating a rock so heavy that he himself cannot lift it is not one of them. Dear reader, God wouldn’t be much of a God if a question as silly as this could disprove him, so not only did he provide us with the answer, he anticipated this foolishness.

On a fateful day in the First Century, a man condemned for claiming to be God manifest in the flesh was walking through Jerusalem carrying a Roman cross on his back. While the Roman cross is heavy, a grown man should be able to carry it; however, this man was being driven by the Roman soldiers who had whipped him masterfully so that onlookers could barely tell he was a man. In order to administer this torture with the flagrum, a soldier had to go through intense training, as it was very easy to kill the person being punished and that was not their intent; it was their goal to inflict the maximum amount of pain. Even still, many men died from this punishment, either because their body was breached and their organs fell out of the wounds, or because major arteries were cut and they bled to death.

But this man who claimed to be God had not died and was carrying his cross through Jerusalem, but because of his wounds, he was having a difficult time. The Roman soldiers forced a man named Simon to help carry the cross. The going was slow, and the soldiers were under strict orders to crucify the condemned man before sunset and they were running out of time, so in order to speed up the event, Simon carried the cross by himself the rest of the way.

They arrived at their location just outside of the gates on a hill called Calvary, and the man that claimed to be God was nailed to the cross. A sign displayed on top of the cross declared his crime in three languages, that he had claimed to be the “King of the Jews.” The Roman soldiers realized that there was something different about this man, so did a thief on a cross beside him. What was different about him was that he had never transgressed the Law of God; he was an innocent man paying a criminals' fine. He had previously said that what he did not steal, he had come to repay, and as the Prophet Isaiah stated, he was numbered among the transgressors. He was perfect, but our sin was attributed to him; on Calvary hill three thieves should have been crucified, you and I hung in the middle, because everything that is stolen, no matter the value, is a transgression against a Holy and Just God, no matter if it was a million dollars or a pen, whether it was time from your employer or air from God, no thief will inherit the kingdom of God. Here hung this man bruised and wounded; a thief who had never stolen, a liar who had never lied, an adulterer and murderer who had never so much as looked with lust or hated without cause, and a blasphemer who had never taken God's name in vain. Upon his body were adorned our lies, our larceny, our fornication, our gossip, our blasphemy, pornography, idolatry, covetousness, pedophilia, rape, pride, arrogance, and unbelief. Every deed you've hidden in darkness, every idle word, and every evil thought were nailed to the cross in his heretofore unblemished frame.

Just before sunset, the soldiers would break the legs of those on the cross and the weight of their body would put full strain on their arms, and they would be unable to exhale and would suffocate. The man in the middle died before his legs were smashed, because 700 years before he died, it was written that none of his bones would be broken. With his last breath, he declared to the world that “It is finished.” The sky went dark, the ground split, and in Jerusalem the veil that kept men from the Holy of Holies, the ceremonial dwelling place of God on earth, was torn down the middle and all men were given opportunity to stand in the presence of God.

On that cross that was too heavy for him to carry, the man who claimed to be God died, having called out to his Father in Heaven, “Why hast thou forsaken me?” He was forsaken because our sins made him repulsive to his Father, just as our sins make us repulsive to the Father, unfit for Heaven, and condemned for eternity to Hell. In order to be sure that he was dead, the Roman soldiers thrust a spear into his side, and discovered that his heart had burst. He had not died of suffocation like most people who died on a cross; instead, he had died of a ruptured heart, forsaken by his Father and friends.

Three days later, the man who claimed to be God proved that he was God by defeating death and walking out of his tomb alive forevermore. This man’s name is Jesus Christ; he is the eternal and coequal Second Person of the Holy Trinity. God in every way, he commands everyone everywhere to repent; then while he was made sin for us, we can be made the righteousness of God in him, our fine paid on that cross on Calvary.

So if it was a silly question, whether God could create a rock so heavy that he himself could not lift it, that was keeping you from forsaking your sin and following the Eternal Son of God, now you know the answer. Two-thousand years ago, Jesus Christ created a tree which was carved into a cross that was so heavy that he could not carry it; logic follows that he has created plenty of rocks that are so heavy that he could not lift them. Every thing has been created through him, and yet, though he had the fullness of God dwelling within him, he esteemed it not, and made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Every question in Christianity has so easy of an answer, and if you are trusting in silliness to save you on Judgment Day, know that only the blood that was poured out for the remission of your sins can save you. Trust in Jesus Christ’s finished work on the cross, he is mighty to save.