THE CAUSE AND MEANING OF JESUS’ DEATH
I t is well noted by those who have studied the Holy Scriptures that the central issue of Jesus’ death is not the “cause” but the “meaning” - the Father’s meaning. Why was Jesus, the beloved Son of God, crucified (“cause”)?
We read this from the Old Testament (OT) Prophet Isaiah:
“Yet it was the will of the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief and made Him sick...” (Other translations use the words “curse Him”.)
Isaiah 53:10 Amp.
The WILL of the Lord? To us this seems harsh, unloving and cruel!
Isaiah does not seek to give an explanation to the problem of theodicy- the attempt to justify the goodness of God in the face of evil present in the world- or to inculcate the merits of vicarious suffering. But behind the story of the (suffering) Servant’s life, death, and burial, stands the PURPOSE (“meaning”) of the LORD/ Yahweh.
There was no apparent reason for the evil fate of the Servant (Jesus) from a merit point of view; from Israel”s (and ours), He “was wounded for OUR transgression, He was bruised (crushed) for our iniquities” (53:5) It was because “we like sheep have gone ASTRAY; we have turned everyone to his own way,...therefore “the LORD hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (v.6)
Most scholars believe that v. 10 should read, “Yet it was the purpose (not “will”) of the LORD to bruise Him”, a major element in Isaiah’s theology (see 44:28; 46:10; 48:14; 42:21 and 55:11).
Also, for “bruise Him” (KJV) the LXX (OT Greek) reads “cleanse ( or “purge”/Him,” in acceptable meaning in the Aramaic. “He has put him to grief” (KJV): The consonants mean “the sickness” (RSV margin). The Vulgate (Latin) reads similarly, “in infirmitate”, the LXX has “with blows”. The Dead Sea Scroll reads, “that He might wound (or “pierce”) Him (see v. 5; Ps. 77;10 and Heb 7:11; 9:22; Ez. 28:9). So, most Bible scholars believe that it should read “with sickness” or “grief”.
God planned all this my dear Christians... for us, while we were but sinners, Christ DIED for us!! The Father, in His mercy for sinners, graciously planned it all.
Romans 8:32 says, “He who did not withhold or spare (even) His own Son but gave Him up for us all...”Going back to Rom 3:25 we read, “whom God put forward (before the eyes of all) as a mercy seat and propitiation by His blood- the cleansing and life-giving sacrifice of atonement and reconciliation- (to be received) through faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in His divine forbearance He had passed over and ignored former sins without punishment”. (Amp)
DIVINE ACT VS SINFUL ACTIONS
Some might ask how does this Divine act relate to evil sinful actions of the men who murdered Jesus? The answer is found in Acts 4:27,28 - Herod, Pontius Pilate, Gentiles, and peoples of Israel....” To carry out all that your hand and your will and purpose had predestined ( or predetermined) should occur”. Those that murdered the spotless/sinless Son of God had already been predetermined centuries before - This is and was the Divine sovereignty of the Almighty LORD GOD.
To paraphrase Genesis 50:20 (Jewish Torah), they meant it for evil, but God meant it for good. So, the central issue of the death of the Lamb of God/Jesus the Christ, the Messiah, is not the cause , but the purpose- the actual meaning Jesus “died” so sinners could “live”, (eternally). The Holy Father made the Holy Son “an offering for sin” (53:10). This does not mean or imply that Jesus’ death placates a hostile Deity (entirely). I believe that God’s love and His wrath against sin comes into play. Hebrews 2:17 speaks of Jesus, “...in order that He might become a merciful and faithful High Priest in the things related to God, to make atonement and propitiation for the peoples’ sins.” Propitiation in general means to appease the wrath of Deity by offering some acceptable sacrifice and therefore to “atone” (Gk “hilaskomai”; as in Heb 2:17, “hilasterion”, as in Rom. 3:25, and “hilasmos”, as in 1 Jn. 2:2 and 4:10). All the above relates tot he significance of the death of Christ.
Jesus’ death upon the Roman Cross wasn’t different from any other person crucified by Rome, except one thing: Jesus was not just another human being, He was the Son of God in flesh. He was God in flesh. Jesus (the Man), Christ (the Anointed), the Lord (the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” - Jn 1:1, 2,14. Because of this, He embraced His own death with joy. Joy? Crucifixion was a joyful event?
Jesus said in Jn 10:17, 18 that “I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.”
Jesus CHOSE TO DIE!! The Father ordained it, Jesus embraced it. HE DIED FOR US - WILL WE LIVE FOR HIM??
DEATH - RESURRECTION
Death could not hold Jesus down. He was raised to show victory over death. We disciples are called to die (physically if God so deems, and for sure spiritually, that is, to die to our “self” life). Unlike Islam which kills in the name of God, Christianity works to see souls saved (at least this is our mission!)
Jesus, not Muhammad, is the world’s Savior. Jesus was sinless, Muhammad was a sinner. Jesus is alive, Muhammad is dead.
Infinitely more important than WHO killed Jesus is what did God achieve for sinners in sending His unique Son to die?