“Jesus is like a crazy guy yelling “I love you” while running down a pier and jumping off”.
I can’t remember who said that. I think it was a German Liberal like Schweitzer. The point he was trying to make was that the cross didn’t make sense as an act of love. You end up with Jesus looking crazy, and the cross should be seen a tragic event that Jesus had no control over. At least I think I remember that being the point. Evangelicals like me use the same illustration to demonstrate that the cross doesn’t make sense until you look at sin. Jesus would seem crazy heading to his own death as an act of love without it being as a substitution.
But I really don’t like it as an illustration. It all doesn’t make sense. That is, until recently…
I was listening to someone else use the illustration recently. He pointed out that the problem with the illustration is that it assumes the the point of view is on the pier. Or to put it another way, it assumes the person that Jesus is calling “I love you” to is standing on the pier. If that is the case, then Jesus would seem like a crazy person.
But what if the person was not on the pier?
What if the person, the point of view, was in the water, drowning? This changes it all. Someone coming to rescue them as an act of love. Someone so identifying with them that they would come and dive in the water to rescue them.
Then I worked out that the problem with the illustration is that we assume we are on the pier, we are safe. We don’t need rescuing. But the Bible points out that we do. It also points out that our rescuer comes because he loves us.