Jesus' Cost-Benefit Analysis
In a recent post, Stephen Dubner calls this "the greatest question ever asked":
You state that your book is based on one fundamental assumption about human nature: people respond to incentives. Which is another way of saying that people are basically selfish. Take someone like Jesus Christ. What was his “incentive” to go on the cross?
Here are my favorite answers from those who commented to the post:
#24 - Answer: eternal joy. Hebrews 12:2. "Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."
#42 - There are no economics in heaven. Economics is the study of the allocation of scarce resources. Because scarcity exists, incentives exist. Jesus’ promise - the promise of heaven - is the end of scarcity and an eternity of abundance. Jesus’ choice, then, was between ruling a world of scarce resources and completely transforming it into a world of abundance.
Just as I had noted earlier this week that no one sins out of duty but rather out of a misguided calculation that the act offers some benefit, no one lays down his life or makes any lesser sacrifice except for a greater return. For some, it is loyalty, for others, it is patriotism, and for still others, it is glory.
It may seem strange to consider among Jesus' motivations such drivers as "joy," "exaltation," and "abundance," but the Bible is clear that Jesus did in fact make a conscious choice, and bore inconceivable cost and pain, so one must in fact ask the question about what incentivized Him. For we who follow Him are to similarly count the cost, believe in the benefit, and carry our own crosses.