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If Jesus is God, how can he die?

Christians believe that Jesus Christ is God, but also human. The consequence is that non-Christians think that God died on the cross. In that case the universe should stop, because God is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. This never happened. Therefore non-Christians say that Jesus Christ cannot be God. However, an analysis of the question shows that the issues are more complicated than straight forward thinking.

Human view to Jesus’ death on the cross is limited

Any reflection about God has his limitations. God is eternal and powerful, while mankind is mortal and with limited power. Thinking about the cross by any human being in relation with a dying God has therefore limitations. It is not possible to use human rational arguments, because rational thinking and facts are different things. Rational arguments will only convince to people who have already selected this option. When we talk about divine things, only God can talk about it. From a human perspective, the absolute truth about Jesus’death on the cross is a mystery. The only way to be sure about the divine truth is a revelation that this is the truth of God [1]. That refutes the Muslim claim that Jesus death implies that God ceased to exist. As a human being, it would be an overestimated reaction to conclude to know the full truth about the death of Jesus Christ, without the revelation of the Living God.

Jesus’ death is beyond human worldview

You can ask yourself about the reason of the death of Jesus Christ. More precise, you may try to find a need why did Jesus Christ have to suffer even to death if he possessed divine glory and authority? But it was the divine plan that Jesus Christ would be the Lamb of God for the forgiveness of sin: “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father" (John 10:18). Jesus Christ speaks of taking His life again. This is part of the mystery for us, human beings. Jesus Christ had to use all his strength to defeat the evil powers. Therefore Jesus Christ was willing to submit himself even to death to defeat death on behalf of all believers. Jesus Christ had made the decision to save mankind from the works of the Devil by obedience till death [2].

Divine sacrifice was necessary to save mankind

It was possible that Jesus Christ could have preached the resurrection without having to die and be raised himself. In that case the suffering on the cross was not necessary for Jesus Christ and conforms a God who cannot die. However people need rational evidence and visible proof to believe something. The death of Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God and resurrection was to place firmly in the hearts of the believers the promise of their own resurrection [3].

Death of Jesus Christ will avoid any doubt about resurrection

Some people think that it would be better to be raised up without having to be put to death by his enemies. But when Jesus died on the bed as so many others and then rose up alive it would give hesitations to believe. However when he died in enemy territory and then is raised up, all doubts will be removed [4].

Conclusion

If Jesus is divine, it is possible that he can die. God never dies, but the death of Jesus Christ on the cross is beyond human thinking and only God can tell the truth about God. Therefore people need personal revelations. The death of Jesus Christ has been arranged in such a way that mankind is able to encourage faith about personal life after death. It opens the way to salvation for a human being.

Notes

  1. Hendrikus Berkhof, Sierd Woudstra, Christian Faith: An Introduction to the Study of the Faith, Grand Rapids, 2002, 23.
  2. Mark Beaumont, Christology in Dialogue with Muslims, A Critical Analysis of Christian Presentations of Christ for Muslims from the Ninth and Twentieth Centuries, Eugene, 2005, 83.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.

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