Skip to content

Did Jesus die for me?

May 2, 2014

TJDFYA few weeks ago Christian evangelistic organization Jews for Jesus premiered their video That Jew Died For You. The video was released, ostensibly, to coincide with the Holocaust Remembrance Day observed by Jews and their friends world over. It a typical J4J fashion, the video was designed to provoke a reaction from the Jewish community (which it did and it wasn’t positive), since the missionary group believes that any publicity for their cause is good publicity. However, this is not what I want to talk about right now. The question I would like to ask is: if Jesus is G-d in the flesh, as Christianity claims, was there really any true sacrifice on Jesus’ part for humanity? Did Jesus voluntarily* lay his life for sinners, as 1 John 3:16 proclaims, suffering and dying at the hands of the Roman soldiers commandeered by unwilling Pilate, himself egged on by a relentless angry Jewish mob out for Jesus’ innocent blood? Was Jesus’ act of willingly giving up his life heroic and meaningful, and above all, self-sacrificial?

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. (1 John 3:16)

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:11)

I believe that Jesus’ surrender of his earthly life, with him being an incarnate G-d, was meaningless precisely because he was a deity himself. It was meaningless if him giving up his own life was supposed to have been an act of self-sacrifice for humanity, a show of love with G-d dying for his creatures. What is earthly “death” to the Eternal G-d who is without beginning or end, who cannot die? After all, Jesus was not a mere human being, as Christianity teaches, but G-d Himself! What’s 50, 60 or even 120 years of earthy life for the Eternal G-d? If Jesus was just a decent human being, we may appreciate his sacrifice of giving up his life in our stead, but Christianity tells us otherwise. He was an Eternal G-d who couldn’t die in any meaningful or lasting way.

Since Jesus was supposedly G-d in a human body, he already knew that he would only suffer on the cross a fraction of time it normally took for most other Jewish victims of Roman brutality to suffer and die on it. Indeed, the New Testament tells us that he expired very quickly, in a matter of hours instead of many days of torture. Being G-d in a human body and having already predicted his own resurrection days earlier, Jesus, the New Testament informs us, knew full well that he would be resurrected merely three days later. He would be upgraded to a far better existence, resurrected in a perfect incorruptible body no longer susceptible to disease or suffering. Not after thousands of years in the ground – in three days! He knew and even predicted (John 2:19) that he himself would promptly restore his own his life back. Even though the NT writers have Jesus cry out to G-d, feeling abandoned (can G-d abandon Himself?), he was otherwise a person in absolute control of his own destiny, both before the cross and shortly thereafter. Where’s the sacrifice of giving up his life for humanity? If he was G-d, Jesus gave up nothing.

Did Jesus somehow mystically suffer spiritually for humanity’s sins? Since Jesus’ spirit is really supposed to be G-d’s own All Powerful Spirit not at all like our own, G-d has an infinite capacity to bear any sort of suffering. Not that G-d doesn’t suffer. He tells us that He does, but not in the way Christianity imagined Him – by torturing Himself and letting the Devil beat him up! Like any parent, G-d suffers the most when his children suffer. Indeed, I would suggest that G-d has suffered far worst pain seeing His People tortured and murdered during the Holocaust.

I will tell of the kindnesses of the L-RD, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the L-RD has done for us– yes, the many good things He has done for Israel, according to His compassion and many kindnesses. He said, “Surely they are my people, children who will be true to me“; and so He became their Savior. In all their distress He too was distressed. (Isaiah 63:7-9)

Thousands of Jews died in ways actually far worse than merely physical suffering. Many Jews died only after first seeing their own children murdered in front of their eyes, both before Jesus and many times since. They have undergone unspeakable suffering, both spiritually and emotionally. Many died after suffering for months and sometimes for years locked away in veritable hells on earth, with their body wasting away from back-breaking labor, disease and ceaseless hunger that couldn’t be satiated by meager subsistence rations. They didn’t get assurances of walking the earth again, but many lost their faith in G-d. They didn’t get an instant replay three days later. Indeed, according to sections of Christianity represented by the likes of Jews for Jesus, those Nazi-incinerated Jews, having had the misfortune of being born Jewish and gospel-less, supposedly went straight to hell to suffer again, this time for all eternity. They were supposedly condemned because they rejected and refused to worship Jesus as their “Lord and Savior”, the self-proclaimed “door” and “the way” , without whom, New Testament teaches, no one will see G-d or taste eternal life. As many Christians will readily tell you, it’s not how you lived, not how you suffered, and not how you died, but whether you believed in Jesus before you died is what truly matters to G-d.

*Speaking historically, the voluntary part is quite suspect, since Romans persecuted and executed all messianic candidates as threats to Roman rule, no exception. That is to say that it was only a matter of time for Jesus to be hounded and executed by the Romans when his followers began to proclaim him as messiah (something that he himself was apparently quite reluctant to do).

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: