What if you were found guilty of a crime so serious that you were sentenced to spend the rest of your life in prison? For me that would be worse than a death sentence, but to make my point we’ll have to settle for life.
Now imagine this conversation with a friend.
A friend visits you in jail as you await transport to the prison and says to you,”I’ve worked out a deal with the court and you’re off the hook. They’ll be here in a minute to set you free.”
You’re incredulous, but this friend is one you can trust so without question you reply, “You’re kidding. That’s fantastic. What kind of deal?”
Your friend puffs his chest in mock pride and says, “I told the court that I’d serve in your place, and they agreed, so long as you say you’re sorry for what you did. And you’ll have to say it on bended knee before the judge.”
Even more astonished you reply, “Of course. Hell yes. I’d say it standing on my head, but why? Why would you be willing to do this for me. I mean, who in their right mind would spend the rest of their life in prison for a friend?”
“Oh hell no. I’m not going to prison for life,” says your friend. “We’re buddies but I wouldn’t do that for my mother. I’m only going to jail for 24 hours; just a single day.”
Now you really are confused. “That’s crazy. I was looking at 50 years in prison.” Doing some rough math in your head you say, “That’s like, 20,000 days!”
“Yep,” says your friend smugly,”A hell of a deal ain’t it.”
I would argue that not only is it a hell of a deal, it’s an utter absurdity; outrageously disproportionate. One day in exchange for 20,000? We would expect that if one were to repay another person’s debt there would be some semblance of parity. Who would accept one dollar as payment in full for a $20,000 debt?
Is there any precedent for this in history?
Well actually there is. For 2,000 years it has been believed that millions… no, billions of people have been sentenced to years in hell. Not just a lifetime, that would not be nearly severe enough to satisfy the ultimate court of God. An infinite number of lifetimes!
But, as the story goes, someone has volunteered to pay our debts. All of us! And his name is Jesus Christ.
Do the storytellers say that he will pay it in full? Yes. Does that mean he will spend eternity in hell in our stead? Well… no… not exactly.
Well he spends about a day suffering terribly, then goes to hell for three days.
Then what? What happens to Jesus next?
He spends the rest of eternity IN HEAVEN!
And to join him in Heaven all we sinners need to do is believe it’s true. We’re told by priests and pastors that we should accept this offer of salvation; that it’s proof of God’s love and generosity.
I’m sorry. They’ve got it backwards. If I was Satan’s representative, brokering the deal, I’d say, “Ya gotta do better than that Jesus. One day on a cross and three days in hell in exchange for billions of eternal lifetimes in Hell is not a generous offer.”
What if you have a problem believing ideas which, on their face, seem utterly absurd? As a critical thinker you might require evidence, and the more absurd an assertion, of course, the more evidence you would need. Which is why, if this rubbish is true, I don’t think there will be many critical thinkers in Heaven.