Buddha was born a prince, an heir to his father's throne, but when he was born, the fortune tellers told the father that he was an unusual child, destined either to unite all of India into one kingdom, or, if he forsook the world, to become a world redeemer. Because of this, the child was brought up completely sheltered from all forms of misery in the world, and he was given all of the pleasures that the world could offer. He was to be shielded from any contact with sickness, decrepitude, or death.
All this contrasts sharply with the Lord Jesus. He was born in a stable for animals, His parents offered the poor person’s offering for Him at birth, He was a working man, a carpenter, and He died the death of a criminal, in the degrading torture of crucifixion, a form of death reserved only for slaves and the lowest of society. Yet because of the lowness of His humiliation, He was therefore so highly exalted (Phil. 2:5-11). Because He was of our nature, therefore He was able to know fully our human experience, and on this basis we can ask God for forgiveness confidently (Heb. 4:15,16). Although Jesus was rich, for our sakes He became poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich (2 Cor. 8:9).
Buddha is a `Saviour' only in the sense that he shows men how to save themselves, by actually following to the end the Path trodden and shown by him. According to the Bible, there is none truly just, not one (Rom. 3:10). All have been “concluded under sin” (Rom. 3:22 ) (Gal 3:22). Mankind therefore cannot save himself. Just consider Paul’s passion in Rom. 7:15-25 “For what I am doing I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God – through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.”
Surely you feel an echo of yourself here? The answer to this cry from the heart is in Jesus Christ- not in human beings saving themselves. ‘Jesus’ means saviour. Either Buddha or Jesus is our Saviour. Some Buddhists claim that Christianity is compatible with Buddhism. Yet clearly it isn’t. Where is Buddha now? Is he saved? What does that salvation mean for him? Is there any evidence that he conquered death? Seeing that sin brings death, how then did Buddha conquer sin and death? Did Buddha ever sin? The Buddhist is always nervous about these questions because he or she chooses not to face up to the real implications of the concept of sin- which scarcely exists in Buddhism.
A positive karma is seen to have the power of purification or punya. But it is surely apparent that the power of self-cleansing is not within us. What is required is the blood of Jesus to purify us (1 Jn 1:7). He, as our representative, with all our pain and our hunger as humans, never sinned, and was resurrected to eternal life. And we have the hope of sharing the salvation He now experiences, as a result of His death purifying us in that God forgives us our sins because of Him.