Christianity teaches that Jesus is fully God who took the form of a servant to suffer and die on the cross so that we may receive salvation. The scripture is apparent that Jesus had the full understanding that he was going to suffer, be humiliated, be crucified, and die on the cross. He also knew that he would resurrect on the third day. However, many doubt if his death was a real sacrifice, yet he knew he would rise from the dead. Some are more disturbed by how he could die, yet he is entirely God. So, how could Jesus die if he is God?
Jesus had to die for humanity to be reconnected with God. However, does it mean that God died as Jesus is entirely God? The only way to understand how Jesus died, yet he was God is to understand that when his body died, it does not mean that he ceased to exist. To understand death from a biblical point of view is simply the Spirit separating from the body. Therefore, the human body that Christ had taken died. That is why Mathew 27:50 records that before he died, he cried out loud and gave up his Spirit.
So, if Jesus is God and he died, does that mean God can die? If Jesus died on the cross, was God dead for three days? How was Jesus’ death a real sacrifice if he knew he would be resurrected? Did God sacrifice himself to himself to save us from himself because of a rule he made himself? Keep reading to get more answers to these questions and understand deeper why Jesus had to die despite him being God.
If Jesus is God and he died, does that mean God can die?
As mentioned above, the only way you can understand why Christ died, yet he was fully God, is to understand death from a spiritual point of view. Death means that the Spirit separates from the physical body, and the physical body dies. Jesus never ceased existing after his physical body died. That means that because God the father did not take human form and come on earth like the son, he did not die.
If Jesus died on the cross, was God dead for three days?
God did not die for three days. As emphasized above, it is the physical body of Jesus that died and not his spirituality. To understand this further, Christ himself, in the gospel of Luke 23:43, affirmed that he went to paradise the same day he died. It is his physical body that rose the third day, and not himself as a whole. Luke 23:43 says, “And he said to him, Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
How was Jesus’ death a real sacrifice if he knew he would be resurrected?
The scripture teaches that God lowered himself to take the human form and even went further to the point of being tortured and murdered by the same creatures he created. However, what is also clear is that when Christ came in human form, he knew he would be killed by those he had come to save. Mark 8:31 says, “And he began to teach them that the son of man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed and after three days rise again.” However, if he knew he would conquer death, why put himself in the hands of his killers?
Those who argue that Jesus’ death was not a real sacrifice misunderstand the happenings of the cross and God’s plan to save humanity. What happened on the cross was more than killing the human body of Jesus. His emotional suffering was a core part of the suffering.
Furthermore, though Christ knew that he would be restored on the third day, it did not make the suffering and humiliation any less painful. All these were so painful that Jesus himself went before God and asked him if it was in accordance with his will to remove the cup of suffering from him. He was despised and shamed, and that was also a significant part of the sacrifice.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is also a core part of why we celebrate the good news and his death today. Because if he could not have been able to conquer death, then no one would believe that he was the son of God, and even Christianity would not have existed in the first place.
Did God sacrifice himself to himself to save us from himself because of a rule he made himself?
Some scholars argue that God simply saved us from his own punishment by sacrificing himself to please himself because of a rule he had created. And this triggers a lot of questions; why would he do so? To answer this question, we have to understand the triune nature. Claiming that God sacrificed himself to himself is simply misunderstanding the nature of God’s triune. The scripture is clear that God the father sent the son to do his will of saving humanity, the son obeyed the father by dying on the cross for us, and the Spirit led the son through this painful experience.
Furthermore, saying that God made up a rule that blood sacrifice is necessary to atone for sin is not just a mere rule that God accidentally created. He does not just put things up; his rules are an extension of his holy nature. We can link this to Isaac Newton’s rule of gravity. Claiming that God made up his rules is like arguing that Isaac Newton made up the law of gravity. What he simply did was describe the nature and effects of gravity. God just describes his holy nature through his laws.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.