Before you label me a heretic, actually read what I have to say. =)
I have been thinking about this a lot lately. After one Sunday service when Artur (our College/Career Pastor) said that Jesus didn’t have to die such a horrible death on the cross, He could have just died of old age. That made me think…
Really? Could Jesus have actually died of old age and that be sufficient enough to cover the sins of all humanity in the past, present, and future?
How interesting would the story have been if we read in the Bible that Jesus lived until age 85 and died of natural causes and was then laid in a tomb and after 3 days He rose again and conquered death? Is that really sufficient? Was His purpose here to simply die or was it to be the Suffering Servant as well? Is His “blood” that we sing about all the time “that makes us white as snow” simply referring to Him dying or did His blood actually have to be spilt?
So, the question here that I grapple with is whether Jesus’ death alone was enough, or did He have to suffer and did His body have to break and bleed for us as well?
When we say that it is Christ’s “death” that brings forgiveness of sin I really do not think that it is simply talking about “dying”. I think when the Bible speaks of Christ’s death, it includes everything that came along with His death. His death specifically was one of great suffering and agony. His death was that of crucifixion. So, when we speak of Christ’s death that covers sin, it is not only talking about Christ dying, but the WAY that He died as well. (At least that’s my theory on the matter)…
We see in Scripture that “he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)
So, we see the words “pierced”, “crushed”, “punishment”, and “wounds” in correlation with our “transgressions”, “iniquities”, and ability to have “peace” and to be “healed”. So, it seems that in order for our trangressions and iniquities to be covered and for us to have peace and healing there had to be physical pain inflicted upon Christ. But it is not just that verse that we base our whole theology on. Any reader of the Bible knows very well that animal sacrifices happend all the time and sacrifices were a common practice among Yahweh-followers.
If you look into the role of a priest on Passover day every year, one would be chosen to enter the Holy of Holies and sprinkle an unblemished lamb’s blood for the sins of himself and for all of Israel. We see that even during Jesus’ time they celebrated the Passover. “Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed.” (Luke 22:7)
This idea of the sacrificial lamb is all over the Bible. We also know that Jesus is the “Lamb of God”.
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)
This whole concept of the “lamb of God” and the fact that Jesus is labeled this means that He is to be sarcificed. This is how it would have been understood in that time and also to anybody who reads the Bible now. It’s clear therefore, that Jesus was to be sacrificed which included suffering and bleeding, not only just dying.
Also, we see what Christ said and did during the Last Supper, “And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.'” (Luke 22:19-20)
His body is given for us and His blood is poured out for us. I think He even (obviously) knew that this is the way it had to happen. I even think about Christ in Gethsemane, “he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. ‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.'” (Mark 14:35-36)
I wonder if Jesus was thinking that God the Father could just let Him die of old age, I mean think about it, God really doesn’t even have to die and if He did die of old age that still would have been more than what He had to do. But well, God the Father knew that Christ had to be the ultimate sacrifice, not just die. The old sacrificial system was to be done away with by the ultimate sacrifice. As we already know, pain and the spilling of blood is what comes with sacrifice.
From the beginning of Creation, for some reason (I think we all know why) God had a plan to save souls. He decided to establish a sacrificial system for God’s people and though it was good, it was not enough to cover the sins of people permanently. He developed this scheme and plan to become man and to fulfill this sacrificial role in order to ultimately cover and actually totally get rid of our sins.
So, after all of this, what I have concluded on this matter is that Christ’s death alone is and is not enough. Depending on how you define it. If it is Christ simply “dying” then that isn’t enough. But if it is Christ “dying” in the “WAY” that he did, then it is enough. So when we talk about Christ’s death covering our sin, again, His death includes everything, every part of his death is what covers our sin.
(I have not covered everything fully and in complete detail, obviously books upon books could be written about this, but let me hear your thoughts…)