Malcolm Muggeridge — British journalist from a Parliament family and former agnostic, wrote these words a few years before his death in 1990:
It is the simple, historical fact,” Professor William Barclay writes, “that in the thirty years from 67 to 37 BC before the emergence of Herod the Great, no fewer than one hundred and fifty thousand men perished in Palestine in revolutionary uprisings. There was no more explosive and inflammable country in the world than Palestine. If Jesus had publicly claimed to be Messiah, nothing could have stopped a useless flood tide of slaughter.” He goes on to point out that before he could openly claim the Messiahship, he had to show it to the world in a quite new light, with a quite new significance, as a Messiahship whose only power was sacrificial love. In other words, he was indubitably the Messiah, but one “whose reign was in the hearts of men, a Messiah who reigned from a Cross.
. . .
The answer of Jesus to death was an essential part of his ministry. Death had haunted the pagan world, as something to be dreaded, stoically faced, put out of mind, despairingly embraced; at best, in the manner of Socrates, greeted with noble resignation. . . . Jesus audaciously abolished death, transforming it from a door that slammed to, into one that opened to whoever knocked. He made death, as Bonhoeffer joyously said on his way to be executed, for a Christian a beginning, not an end. . .