Because of my complete lack of belief in a god, any god, many of my friends question my need for spiritual sustenance. They remind me often that they take great comfort in knowing that Jesus, the savior, son of man and god, the pure, the beautiful etc; you get the picture, died for ME on the cross after suffering horrible pain at the hands of the Jews and the Romans.
Those were harsh times, and I will not minimize the pain and suffering of anyone hung on a cross and allowed to die a long painful death, but Jesus was not alone. Thousands of citizens were crucified, there were two others nailed with Jesus that day. And yet the mythology prevails, Jesus died a horrible death so that we could ALL be saved, and to that I say bullshit.
Jesus had it easy, he took the simple way out after an exciting life as the head of a small local cult, adored, not unlike Jim Jones or David Koresh, by his immediate followers and a small coterie of the citizens around him. If recent history is a guide, he enjoyed the best from the table and probably had his pick of the women around him, not a bad life in one the worst hell holes in the world.
The manner of his death, as I remind my friends, was actually a blessing because JESUS HAD ONLY ONE CROSS TO BEAR, he did not, like my friends, bear the burdens of daily life. To us the crippling horrors of sick children and dying parents, the daily heart stopping pain of meeting financial and moral obligations, the sadness of betrayal from friends and family, the physical pain of medical conditions are all the crosses that we shoulder, one by one, and often alone. Those crosses are a symphony to his solo act.
So what does it all mean? The simple fact that we live and die as well as we can is less a reflection on who we are, but a sadder reflection on how we divest ourselves of the heroic dignity our lives truly are. And we suborn our own greatness to the lesser life lived out in the plain knowledge of where Jesus was going and how he would die.
In a cosmic sense, Jesus did not die for our sins; we die to atone for his lack of sin and pain.