|Volume 21 Number 4 April 2019||
“…I have a question in my mind that if Jesus Christ was the Son of God, incarnation of God, why He was crucified. People would cure from the diseases by getting the mere touch of Him. He emancipated many persons from troubles and miseries. How He was crucified? Was the king mighty [mightier] than Him? Why Jesus not showed any miracle at that time? — J.N. (New Delhi, India)
These are very important questions. What does the Bible say about the reason Jesus died?
Did Jesus Desire to Die?
Jesus was the Son of God, but He was also human like you and me. He did not desire to suffer the agony of being whipped by Roman soldiers. He did not desire the torture of being nailed to a cross and left there to die. It was a bitter “cup” for Him to drink.
In the night before His death, Jesus prayed, “‘Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.’ Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:42-44). He “…offered up prayers and supplications [earnest requests] with vehement [strong] cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death…” (Hebrews 5:7). Jesus did not enjoy suffering, but He chose to obey the will of God and “endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2).
Could Men Overpower Jesus?
Early in His work, envious people in Nazareth rejected Jesus’ teachings and tried to kill Him. They “…thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff. Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way” (Luke 4:29-30). Jesus could not be killed before it was time for Him to die. “Therefore they sought [attempted] to take Him; but no one laid a hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come” (John 7:30).
Temple officers could not arrest Jesus. In the Jewish religion, there was a powerful sect called “Pharisees.” They taught manmade religious laws instead of God’s law. Jesus rebuked them for adding to God’s law and for subtracting from it. As a result, the Pharisees and chief priests hated Him and “…sent officers to take Him” (John 7:32), but their effort failed. “Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, ‘Why have you not brought Him?’ (46) The officers answered, ‘No man ever spoke like this Man!’”(John 7:45-46).
Jesus boldly taught in the Temple in Jerusalem, and then He easily escaped from His enemies. “Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by” (John 8:59). Later, while He again taught people in the Temple, His enemies tried to stone Him (John 10:31) and to capture Him (John 10:39). They failed every time.
There was not a Pharisee, soldier, king or mob powerful enough to take the life of Jesus. “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father” (John 10:17-18).
When the time came for Jesus to die, He permitted evil people to “capture” Him. While Jesus was being arrested, one of His disciples tried to defend Him. Peter drew a sword and cut off the right ear of Malchus, servant of the high priest. But Jesus rebuked Peter, saying, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?” (Matthew 26:52-54). A “legion” varied from 3,000 to 6,000 men.
All Jesus needed to do was pray, and God would have sent more than 36,000 angels to defeat the “great multitude” of people who thought they could take Jesus by force. However, Jesus did not ask for angelic help. Instead, He even healed the enemy’s ear, which had been cut off by Peter (Luke 22:51).
The Roman governor could not overpower Jesus. When Pilate was questioning Him, Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here” (John 18:36). Later that same morning before He was crucified, Pilate asked Him, “‘…Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?’ Jesus answered, ‘You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above…’” (John 19:10-11).
Did Jesus Know He Would Die?
The death of the Son of God was foretold hundreds of years before He came to earth (Isaiah 53:1-12). He knew when He would die. He told His disciples, “You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified” (Matthew 26:2). He knew where He would die—at Jerusalem (Luke 18:31). He knew how He would die. He told His disciples that He would be mocked, scourged (whipped), and crucified (Matthew 20:19). He even knew that people would spit upon Him (Luke 18:32).
He knew who would kill Him. From the beginning, He knew that Judas would betray Him (John 6:64; 13:21-30; Mark 14:18-20). He knew that the Jewish elders, chief priests and scribes would condemn Him to death (Matthew 16:21; 20:18). He knew that those leaders would then deliver Him to the Gentiles (non-Jews) to crucify Him (Matthew 20:19).
Jesus was not taken by surprise. He knew all about His suffering and death ahead of time. He went into Jerusalem and to the cross with full knowledge of the suffering and death that were coming upon Him.
Why Did Jesus Die?
All people have sinned—disobeyed God. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Disobeying God separates us from Him. “…your iniquities [sins] have separated you from your God…” (Isaiah 59:2). The penalty for sin is death. “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20). “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Jesus took our penalty by dying for us. “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all…” (1 Timothy 2:5-6). Jesus took our place. “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just [righteous] for the unjust [unrighteous], that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit” (1 Peter 3:18). Jesus was willing to die for us because of His love for us (John 15:13; Ephesians 5:25) and because He was obedient to God (Philippians 2:8; John 10:17-18).
The blood of Jesus saves us from our sins and the penalty of sin. “…We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7). Peter reminded some Christians that they were not redeemed (bought back) with perishable things such as silver and gold “…but with the precious blood of Christ…” (2 Peter 1:18-19).
A sinner receives the benefit of the death of Jesus when he is baptized. Persons who have been “...baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death” (Romans 6:3). At baptism, the person enters into the benefits of the death of Jesus—forgiveness of sins. Every person must face physical death (Hebrews 9:27), but people who remain in their sins will also die a “second death”—punishment forever in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14; Mark 9:47-48). Even the people who killed Jesus were given the opportunity to receive the benefit of His death. When some of them asked for help, Peter told them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission [forgiveness] of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). If a person obeys Jesus in baptism and remains faithful to Him, Jesus will raise him from death in the last day and take him to Heaven to live forever (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17).
Jesus Did Show His Power!
The enemies of Jesus mocked Him, saying, “If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross” (Matthew 27:40). “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him” (Matthew 27:42). The love of Jesus for us was so great that He refused to come down from the cross. He stayed on the cross to pay for our sins. I believe in Jesus because He stayed on the cross until death and because He did not stay in the tomb after death!