For those of us who grew up in conservative or even moderate versions of Christianity, the Christmas story often begins with a pretty twisted premise: Jesus was born to die.
It’s as if the entire purpose of his life was to die.
We find this idea in Christmas songs, Christmas sermons, and all sorts of other places. I mean, heck, John Piper even wrote a book called 50 Reasons Jesus Came To Die (and he also wrote a second book called 10 Reasons Jesus Came To Die, which just seems weird.)
But was dying really the reason why Jesus came to earth?
Spoiler alert: No.
Let’s quickly dissect the claim:
First, the entire premise behind Jesus coming to die is that God is angry and needed a sacrifice to mitigate his wrath. This is why street preachers often begin teaching the Christian story with terms like “sin” and “judgement” as they transition to the birth of Jesus.
But that’s not how the Christmas story begins. At least, not if you’re reading it out of the Bible.
In the Bible, the birth announcement that the Christ has come is made by the angels to shepherds– and what’s interesting is that there’s no mention of God’s anger, wrath, or anything else. In fact, the opposite is true.
When the angels announce the birth they say, “Fear not! For behold, we bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day a savior, who is Christ the Lord…” The angels went on to praise God, saying “Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth toward humanity, with whom his favor rests.
But wait? God sent Jesus because he was pleased with us? I thought he was pissed off? If the Bible were to line up with the “Jesus came to die” narrative, shouldn’t they have been a bit more clear in telling people that God was really, really angry with them, but that they could now have hope because his son came to take the beating for us?
The idea that Jesus came to die also hits a brick wall when considering other principles we know from the Bible.
For example, we know from the Old Testament that God utterly detests human sacrifice– are we then to believe that God’s plan to save humanity required him to do something he thought was an abomination? Or, from the New Testament we find out that the entire sacrificial system found in the Old Testament was never commanded by God and that it never pleased him– the idea that God demanded animal sacrifice was a profound misunderstanding of what God actually does desire.
Plus, if the entire point of Jesus coming to earth was to die, why not just let a sleeping baby Jesus die of natural causes warm in the manger? Why wait so many years and have it be one of the most horrific forms of execution humanity has ever devised? If it was all about dying, dying as a baby would have done the trick.
Listen, I know your childhood pastor was probably a decent person. I know this whole idea of “Jesus came to die” has been engrained in us since our earliest memories.
But they got this one wrong.
Jesus didn’t come to die– he came to show us how to live.
Jesus came to show us how drastically we had misunderstood God– that God does not delight in sacrifices.
Jesus came to show us that we are not to repay evil with evil, that we must not retaliate when we are sinned against, but that we are to do kind things even toward those who hate us– because, as Jesus said, we are to emulate God who is “kind to the ungrateful and wicked.”
Jesus came to show us that God in the flesh can stand in the presence of sinners, and instead of anger and rage, says “neither do I condemn you.”
Dying wasn’t the point at all– the point was coming to live.
This is precisely why in the book of 1 John we’re told, “Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.” It’s why 1 Peter says, “He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.” And it’s also why, just hours before Jesus is executed, he looks at each one of his followers and tells them, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have.”
When it comes to the story of Jesus, it was never about dying at all– it was always about living.
And that… that was the whole point. The whole goal. Jesus was sinless, and thus did not owe God his death. We were the ones who killed him– and even in that act, he shows us what love looks like.
Jesus wasn’t born to die– he was born to be a living invitation.
An invitation to live differently, to live fully, to be an imitator of God by being an imitator of Jesus– the one who was the ultimate revelation of what God is like.
If you’d like to wrestle in more depth with the theological question of God sending Jesus to die, I’d invite you to explore my series on the penal substitution theory of the atonement, by clicking here.
Please don’t quote the Bible if you aren’t interested in taking all of it seriously. The picking and choosing in this article is ridiculous.
It wasn’t good enough for Jesus to die as a sacrifice as a baby because he needed to pass many tests before being found suitable as a substitute for us. He passed the test in the wilderness (resisting Satan’s temptations that had led the first humans astray), he passed the test in Gethsemane where he submitted to the Father’s will. As a baby he was sinless, but he hadn’t earned righteousness (righteousness that would then be credited to believers as in 2 Corinthians 5:21).
God doesn’t delight in sacrifices, true. He doesn’t delight in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11), much less the death of the righteous. But His love led Him to make the ultimate sacrifice. There is a penalty for sin and it must be paid by someone.
Yes, we are to follow Jesus’ example. Yes, he showed us how to live. It is God’s purpose for us that we become like Christ. But that will never happen without the power of the Holy Spirit at work in those who have humbled themselves and asked for forgiveness based on the death and resurrection of Christ. The best moment in my life came when, after growing up as a good Christian and thinking I was much better than most people, the Lord revealed the depth of my sin to me and showed me how much I needed Jesus’ work on the cross. I wept for 30 minutes straight alone in my room and experienced the freedom and lightness of having my sins washed away.
Someday we’ll stand before God. Simply trying to be like Jesus isn’t going to make us righteous enough on Judgment Day. We need the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Please don’t be deceived by this article which leads people away from the truth. Read the Bible for yourself, asking God for guidance.
Have you ever read the epistles of Paul? Paul rarely mentions anything about Jesus other than his death. If you skip the Gospels it is very easy to get the impression that Jesus had nothing better to do in this world than die.
And listening to modern evangelicals one gets the definite impression that they do skip the Gospels, but that’s none of my business.
Yes, Jesus came to teach us how to live, but he also came to die, and u really can’t deny the biblical witness on that. From the Hebrew Prophets, including Isaiah 53’s suffering servant, to John’s ID of Jesus as “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world”(John 1:29…} to Jesus’ own words about his coming death and resurrection and rebuke of Peter when he challenges these words (including Matthew 1:21…) to Jesus’ own prayerful struggle w/God in the Garden of Gethsemane for a change of plan to the epistles to Revelation’s slain lamb, Jesus’ death as necessary is part of the story.
Right on! Jesus, the slaughtered sacrificial lamb to save souls by bearing the sins of humanity makes for a wonderful story, a story, though, that promotes no one is responsible for the soul that became housed in a human being, a story that promotes slavery to a system that teaches the opposite of “the kingdom within.” The “bible” is errant but there are tidbits to pick up to see the truth when guided by the true Teacher, the Supreme Being. Jesus was merely a soul that housed inside a man so that, as a higher-dimensional soul, he came to a lower dimensional Earth realm, became a human being born to parents through regular, but more special-like, conception, learned that Tanakh, the culture in which he grew, saw how the folks were “literally” following the allegorical instructions and thinking slaughtering animals and shedding blood relieved them of “sin,” wherein the allegory was to show people the opposite, that only through self-responsibility can man’s soul be “saved,” i.e, rescued/delivered from this Earthly realm. Jesus, a human being, not divine, became anointed (became “a” messiah/maschiah) when he walked his life in perfect reflection of the Supreme Being, which he knew was “within” him. The allegorical dove personifies the “son of god” descending upon Jesus, where it is said, not that “God was pleased,” but that Jesus then became a “brought-forth son of god.” He became a “son of god” when the “christ” of the Supreme spirit descended upon him. Jesus was purely an exemplar of how each human being can become the same as him, a “son of god,” an anointed/messiah/maschiach. We each have our own kingdom to find “within,” where the true Teacher resides waiting to be tapped. Jesus himself even said his kingdom is not of this Earth. That is because his kingdom was “within.” In the allegorical Tanakh, which Yahudum took literally, the Yahudum were continually looking for their “king,” not realizing or having a clue, because of their incorrect understanding of the instructions, that each of them could become a king, if they would just understand the “kingdom is within.” Each of us have a direct connection to the Supreme Being. But people are told to seek the Supreme from outside, by teachers and preaches teaching that another “soul” had to die for them in order for them to live in a kingdom in the heavens, when all along the kingdom is within, where the Supreme resides. The Supreme desires mercy, not sacrifice. That being the desire of our Supreme Being, our Father, mercy, not sacrifice, man has been indoctrinated into a system that has reason to lead humanity astray, to enslave them into an ideology that “leaves open a wide gate,” rather than directing humanity through the “narrow gate,” the one Jesus came to teach, that being the “kingdom is within.” The Tanakh says no one can die and save another, a little tidbit that was not altered but that people ignore. And that is why Jesus was not born to die as a human sacrifice. It goes against the very core of the desire of the Supreme. Jesus dies a death at the hands of the Yahudum who could not understand he was exposing the “literal” incorrectness of their belief. Their king will never come. The Christian king never came. The kingdom only comes when humanity realizes the kingdom lies “within” them.
“Mass” is akin to sacrifice. “Christmas” is the Roman name for the sacrifice that their person “Christ” was to fulfill, based on literally believing the sacrifices in the Tanakh. They think Jesus is the ONLY christ and was the sacrificial lamb, that he was born to be sacrificed to save humanity from their sin. But the allegory of the Tanakh directs people to know that they are to save their own soul. Thus, the only reason he is the “savior of humanity” is because he came to teach humanity how to save individual selves. People lose touch with what “christ” means. They think it is Jesus. But since “christ” means messiah/anointed/mashiach, there is no sacrifice after obtaining an anointment. Anointment is a position of one’s spiritual realm. Therefore, there can be no such thing as “anointment mass/sacrifice aka Christmas.
People love to celebrate death; they just do not know they are doing it. Because in the literal aspect of the Tanakh, to sacrifice was to put to death an animal with the hope such carnal act would please the god and they would be forgiven their sin, which sin back then was “missing the mark” of following the instructions, but the instructions were taken “literally,” and, thus, blood was shed and death was worshiped. The real meaning, that of death, was twisted into making people believe it means a “resurrected life.” Only while alive can one obtain their resurrection through an anointing and, thus, becoming their own mashiach/messiah/anointed. This celebratory “reason for season” is so wrong but makes so many people happy with an uplifted spirit, that Roman ill-conceived ideology, that it took death to save humanity.
“Self (ἐγώ) exists (εἰμί ) the resurrection/rising up (anointing oil/self-messiah) and the life. The one who believes in self (ἐγώ) will live, even though die.” John 11:25
“Self exists the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father (Supreme Being/Source) except through self.” John 14:6
“Self exists the gate. If anyone enters through self, he will be rescued. He will come in and go out and find pasture.” John 10:9
Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to (ἐγώ) Self” John 6:45
“The kingdom of Supreme Being will not come with observable signs. Nor will people say, ‘Look, here it is,’ or ‘There it is.’ For you see, the kingdom of Supreme Being is within/inside (ἐντός).” Luke 17:21
Right there in Luke 17:21 you are told not to seek “him” but to seek one’s self, going straight to the Source. Supreme Being for the teaching, which is found within.
Jesus came to SAVE (Born-Grow-Teach-Die-Resurrect-Rise-Intercede-Return-Judge-Reign), yes Jesus did not came ONLY to die… 🙂
Jesus came to die on the cross in our place so we could have the gift of life… He is coming again soon to take His people out of here…
Ben, you have given me much to think about. I have been having some doubts about the penal substitution theology of Christ’s coming. I keep coming back to that famous passage…For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him will have everlasting life. No where does it mention that Christ came to die, so you may have a point. Thanks for challenging my theology.
This is blasphemous against Jesus. Funny how the only way it works is that the author had to change what scripture said. “with whom he is well pleased.“ Scripture doesn’t say that. At all. Smh. Satan is using this author to deceive. Unbelievably sad.
Luke 2:13-14 (NIV2011)
The Greek word εὐδοκία means “well pleased” exactly the same as “favor rests” as it was used in Luke 2:14.
The Greek word ἄνθρωπος means “humanity”, “human being” or “man” exactly the same as “whom” is used in Luke 2:14.
No judgment, just saying that this is the way it was written.
This article is just flat out wrong/false. This is the gospel according to the Apostle Paul:
“Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.” 1 Corinthians 15:1-5
THE CORE OF THE GOSPEL IS THAT JESUS DIED FOR OUR SINS AND ROSE AGAIN.
Yet that’s not what Jesus said.
Jesus was declared the Son OF God by the Resurrection (Rom 1:4. He was not forced by the Father to die, he lay down his life for his sheep. Yes he came to show us how to live and that without him we will not be able to live. The only way we can live is for our sins to be crucified on the cross. Anything else does not follow the Bible. He certainly did not come to found a new religion but to progress into what the end for which humans were to be what God would have them to be.
Gen 3:15 is the start of what Jesus was prophesied to come to do. With his life he stated what was true about himself and to proclaim the coming kingdom t hat came at his death and resurrection. Only by the crucifixion are our sins teen away and by the resurrection are we justified, sanctified and perfected. In total all of these things needed to happen and just not his life he lived on earth.
Great article Benjamin. Could I suggest a title for a future article “Jesus didn’t come to start a new religion” (and neither did Paul).
Hope you make it out west on a speaking tour sometime.
I read the “progressive channel” about once a week and it strengthens my theology a lot. It’s mainly garbage. Half of the stuff on this channel is trying so hard to find new ‘truths’ or just trying to be opposite of “right-wing conservative” thinking. Even read the “unfundamentalist” core beliefs and it’s all about how they are different from conservatives and not actually what they believe.
Ben, unsurprisingly, I couldnt disagree with you more. Clearly Jesus’ life was important, very important, but so was His death. Indeed central to His thinking. The Messiah’s death was prophesied centuries earlier by Daniel. Jesus knew He was that Messiah. That is not a coincidence.
Without the Messiah’s death (and resurrection), atonement and forgiveness of sin would be impossible.
I find it slightly disturbing that you seem to be moving away from some of the basics of Jesus’ teaching – all people will end up being ‘saved’ regardless of their beliefs or behaviour, a denial of what Jesus’ death accomplished and what it meant, a view that Jesus’ first disciples, including the apostles and early church fathers, all got it wrong about Jesus but you and others have finally gotten it right 2000 years later…(sounds a bit like the Mormons!)
Tbh, if that really does reflect your current thinking, Im happy to remain an evangelical rather than take on the ‘progressive’ mantle which seems more and more to negate Jesus’ own words and understanding.
At a very basic, fundamental level, it seems utterly wrong to look at the Jesus account (even if one assumes that no such historical Jesus ever existed, and it’s all mere stories without a factual basis) and see the crucifixion as the end-all, be-all. Why, then, would Jesus spend all of this time and effort preaching? Making statements about a bunch of different ideas? Trying to set an example? All of that is the heart of every single gospel.
Jesus both came to die and show us how to live.
The warning of God’s wrath can be seen in the one who prepared the way for Jesus: John the Baptist. His message, like that of Elijah who he was compared to, revolved around calling people to repentance from their sin because the wrath of God is on it’s way.
““You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; 9 and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. 10 The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
11 “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”” – Matthew 3:7b-12
His death was also necessary for our salvation:
“24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” – Romans 3:24-26
Note that word “propitiation.” The greek word harkens back to the ark of the covenant and how blood was splattered on it by the high priest, as an atonement for the sins of the people. Paul is saying that Jesus, in his death, bought our atonement through the shedding of his blood.
I don’t know how to interpret this in any way that makes Christ’s death not absolutely necessary when you take into account the OT sacrifice that was being referred to.
The British poet Charles Causley says it best:
He ended up in the papers
He came to a very bad end
He was charged with b ringing the living to life
No man was that prisoner’s friend
Benjamin, in your attempts to jettison fundamental Christians, you march ever closer to a heretical understanding of the Christian faith. This conversation of why the Father sent the Son is not an either/or distinction, but a both/an wonderful mystery of our triune God. I love you as a Christian brother and as one who left fundamentalism in the Baptist tradition for the beauty of the Christian Anglican communion rooted in the historic faith that was once for all delivered to the saints, I strongly encourage you to “not throw the baby out with the bathwater.”
Ben thank you for this article. As you can see from my posts here, I have been doing quite a bit of “thinking out loud.” You have provoked me (once again) to rethink some fundamental concepts of Scripture. Usually, for me, the light doesn’t start to dawn until about 3 am when I wake from a sound sleep and there you are needling me to throw off yet one more vestige of a misinformed Orthodoxy. This morning was no different.
Thanks everyone who has interacted with me as I struggle publicly with my doubts and questions. It is a testament to you all and this forum that I can feel safe to do so. What I am beginning to see now is that much of the OT is the story of a huge misunderstanding of Who God is and how He wishes to interact with humanity. The OT is a conversation, if you will, where man sees God as distant, angry, terrifying and “wholly other.” The Hebrews respond to God the only way they know how, by sacrifice, just like the “heathen” nations surrounding them. Israel responds from an attitude of fear. Some of the prophets make an attempt to clarify that God does not desire sacrifice, that they misunderstand God. The people kill the prophets.
God’s interaction is really no different with the surrounding nations either, with their sacrifices and numerous gods, they misunderstand God as well. God seeks to have relationship with Nineveh, Jonah responds from an attitude of xenophobia and nativism. He doesn’t want any part of it. This pattern is repeated over and over. The blood of goats and lambs does not cleanse off the blood on Israel’s hands from their rape and genocide of the holy land any more than the sacrifices to Baal atone for the sins of the heathen nations. It is all simply wrong from the get go.
It explains why Jesus looks down on Jerusalem and sorrowfully exclaims “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” Matt 23:37. Jesus knew the heart of God, that He longed for an end to the sacrificial system that had so long kept the people distant from Him. Mercy, kindness, love, these were what God desired.
I am still processing some details, but the broad picture and what you are saying here is beginning to sink in. Thanks again and Happy New Year to all.
Jesus showed us that death is not Real. All actions and thought based on the assumption of mortality, are actions and thought rooted in ignorance. That is what sin it is. The reinforcement of the separation delusion.
Sorry, but you left out the account of Jesus’s birth in Matthew 1:21: “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” So the very name “Jesus”, from the beginning, is all about saving people from their sins.
Nicely written, Ben. Thank you!
So you object to penal substitution theory… but do you also jettison all the places where Jesus explicitly stated he came to die (which, when Peter denied, he was told “get behind me, Satan”)? Or all the OT prophecies of Christ that point to his intended death to give us life (Ps.22; Isa.53; etc.)?
It’s awfully hard to argue for a biblical conception of Jesus in which he didn’t come to die when it’s a primary theme in all of the Gospel accounts and throughout the NT – which includes repeatedly referencing or quoting the OT. For example, in Luke 24:44-48, Jesus says that is basically the point of all the OT: “Everything must be fulfilled… this is what is written… all the Law and prophets… Messiah must suffer and die…” Clearly Jesus regards this as the game plan throughout the Bible, certainly well before his birth, but you want to argue he didn’t come to die.
It’s one thing to say “I don’t like the implications of penal substitution” – it’s quite another to say the Bible doesn’t say “he came to die” when it clearly, repeatedly and explicitly says he came to die. I know you are fearful of conservatives’ potential misuse of this doctrine, but why ignore what the Scriptures so clearly teach?
So, do you see Jesus primarily as an example of how to live? As someone who challenged the political and military power of the time, and who’s execution was due to Rome’s rage, not God’s? Interesting… I’ll follow your links.
You should also look up the debate between the Thomist and Scotian positions on the incarnation. Duns Scotus held that the incarnation was always going to happen and still would have happened if there had been no Fall or sin. And as I understand it, this is the more popular opinion among Catholic theologians to this day.
Wow, just a bit too much removal of Scripture for me. I bit like Jefferson’s Bible I’m afraid. If we look at Jesus’ attitude toward the Law and Paul’s treatment of it later, it is clear that it was not God’s intention for mankind to be tied up in endless sacrifices that were external but had no internal benefit. Jesus’ death is not about appeasement but showing us that sacrifice is unnecessary and ineffective. That God desires a different relationship with us. God did not kill His Son, we did. In a fit of misguided religious zeal we killed the Son of God. God knew it would happen, Jesus saw it coming. This is the crux of the Gospel, no greater love has no man than to lay down his life…John 15:13. I’m no fan of penal substitution either, but you are missing a huge point here. We laid our sins on him who knew no sin when we crucified him, I know 2 Cor 5:21 says God made him sin, but remember as we nailed him to the tree, Christ said “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34 in that moment we unwittingly, ignorantly and sinfully showed how destitute we are as humans, the ultimate and consummate act of sin, and yet God forgave us. So as we tried to stamp out the Light of the world, God took that sin, turning it into forgiveness. The cross is a powerful testimony to forgiveness of enemies and shows what great length God is willing to go to bring reconciliation and relationship with us.
Sometimes I fear we Progressives are so turned off by the Orthodox treatment of original sin and the Calvinist teachings on total depravity that we forget we are sinners. We are sinners because we sin. The cross proves it, as does so many wars and atrocities that we have committed. But the cross and subsequent resurrection show us there is hope, even in the darkest hour of human history.
Edit, reading all the way down to the end of the posts I see Dr. Cory has been overstating things (again) to get our responses and think from a different angle. He says… “Do I think Jesus’ death is important? Absolutely. In fact, I affirm a cruciform hermeneutic that believes God’s true character is best revealed by Jesus on the cross dying for his enemies.” I see now that he was using some hyperbole (again). I fall for it every time! 🙂
This narrative seems to play fast and loose with what scripture says, and almost sets the last/new testament against the first/old testament, it seems to me. So the book of Leviticus is a misunderstanding entirely; God never commanded such? I believe scripture teaches that such sacrifices were not God’s ultimate intent, or desire, but that the self-sacrificial death of the Son was by God out of God’s love for the world (John 3:14-16).
“even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve,
and to give his life as a ransom for many.” [Mat 20:28]
“For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve,
and to give his life as a ransom for many.” [Mark 10:45]
What a horribly wicked and deceitful article. You should be ashamed of yourself. Yours is the spirit of Satan as when Peter tried to tell Jesus not to go to the cross. Didn’t Jesus rebuke Peter for speaking in the same manner?
“From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”
Only need one verse to show your error, though I could use many:
“Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
Jesus came to be Emmanuel, God with us; yes to show us how to live, but ultimately to die in our place. He died in the place of sinners because we, as sinners, deserve death. He came to die and to be raised incorruptible so that those who believe on his name will be raised with him. He was gracious and you mock His grace and His sacrifice with your manipulative words.
As a Jewish Believer in Jesus (Messianic Jew) for 30 years now, well versed in biblical theology, I am sitting here with my figurative jaw open at what I am reading. This flies in the face of the whole view of scripture that I simply do not know where to begin. Granted, as a MJ, I do not buy into all fundamentalist theology myself, but there are some issues that are just so plainly there…..
*** First, the entire premise behind Jesus coming to die is that God is angry and needed a sacrifice to mitigate his wrath…..But that’s not how the Christmas story begins.
Actually the “Christmas story” begins long before the manger. The Hebrew prophets told us what to look for in the Messiah. That His birth would be an atonement for sin. Isaiah 53 speaks clearly of this.
When the Savior bears sickness and pain, it is to carry it for us (v. 4,
11, 12). When we read that He is crushed and pierced, it is on behalf of how we
have transgressed the Law of God (v. 5). All of the punishment that the Savior
endures is on behalf of those who have actually committed iniquity (v.6). And
who has committed these atrocities that punishment is doled out upon the
***The idea that Jesus came to die also hits a brick wall when considering other principles we know from the Bible. For example, we know from the Old Testament
that God utterly detests human sacrifice–
Yes – absolutely – here’s why – because all “normal” people are sinners as well, so the concept of an innocent dying for a guilty party will not work with any “normal” person. God is love. Yet God cannot allow sin to go unpunished. (That’s called Justice and God loves Justice).
Therefore, God (in the Torah) allowed for a “Substitute” to be punished in our place. This is found in Leviticus 17:11. When the substitute died, it’s blood was considered payment for the sinner so he/she would not have to be judged. Even according to the Talmud, “there is not atonement without the blood” (Yoma 5a, Zebahim 6a, Menahot 93b).
The substitute had to be a spotless lamb (or similar, but yet perfect). No mere human could die for or atone for another’s’ sins because they had sin themselves. (A dirty person cannot make anyone clean). Messiah was sinless.
Leviticus 17:11 tells us that it is blood that makes atonement. If this were not so – why would God even have had a major part of a book of the Torah (Leviticus) which deals with blood sacrifices and how they make atonement. Also, 2
Chronicles 29.24 says the same thing.
***If it was all about dying, dying as a baby would have done the trick.
No, Jesus needed to feel the emotional pain of sin as well. His “soul” had to suffer as well as the Hebrew prophet foretold. Sin causes soul suffering as well as physical suffering in humanity. Jesus had to be a substitute for both. He had to show the world that he went willingly and a baby cannot do that.
***But they got this one wrong. Jesus didn’t come to die– he came to show us how to live
With all due respect, the opposite is true. You have gotten this wrong. Yes, He did indeed come to show us how to live, but to put a period there and not a comma is to do travesty to the cross. It is answered by Paul in Galatians 2.21 “”I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”
***God in the flesh can stand in the presence of sinners, and instead of anger and rage, says “neither do I condemn you.
A) Funny how you forget the rest of this verse… “Then neither do I condemn you, “Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” Why would Jesus require that if there were no consequences of sin?
B) Jesus was deity clothed in humanity. Isaiah said something different when He saw God in glory…. in Isaiah 6. To summarize he said, “Woe is me!”
***Jesus was sinless, and thus did not owe God his death. We were the ones who killed him
He did not “owe” God anything, but “graciously” came to be our substitute. God so loved us that He “gave” us His Son to pay for the “Judicial penalty” we owed
God’s law. Again, I can refer you back to Isaiah 53 as a starting point for this.
In closing let me say that I suspect this author “left” being a fundamentalist because he did not like the concept of God’s Judgment. If he had studied the
concept of “Conditional Immortality” (Google it) the concept of God’s
judgment would make more sense.