Why? What did he come to do?
- To teach
- Most importantly, to suffer and die and come to life again
Lewis offers one theory as to how Jesus' death accomplishes this purification of humanity, but before he does so, he wants to make it clear that the theories are not primarily what we are asked to accept and believe in. He breaks it down this way:
"God punishes men for deserting Him and joining the Great Rebel, but Christ volunteered to be punished instead, and so God let us off."
Now, this doesn't really make a lot of sense if we are viewing punishment in terms of a police-court and justice sense. Why would putting the punishment on an innocent person make the guilty person right? But if we think of it in terms of a debt, it makes more sense that things are made right when someone who has assets pays on behalf of the one who does not. The hole or debt that man fell into was the hole of trying to set up on our own, living as if we belonged to and existed for ourselves. We are not merely imperfect creatures who have made mistakes but real Rebels who have defied the King and now must surrender our arms - the Christian definition of Repentance. "Now repentance is no fun at all. It is something much harder than merely eating humble pie. It means unlearning all the self-conceit and self-will that we have been training ourselves into for thousands of years... but the same badness which makes us need [repentance] makes us unable to do it."
"We cannot share God's dying [surrender] unless God dies; and He cannot die except by being a man. That is the sense in which he pays our debt, and suffers for us what He Himself need not suffer at all."