Why God Killed Jesus
By: Deji Yesufu
Uyi Osaigbovo asked me this question on Facebook: “Mr Deji Yesufu: There’s something about Christianity that baffles me. Instead of the Christian God to kill Satan, he killed his own son. I no understand that story.” Uyi, from the sound of his name, is from Edo State, Nigeria. But he lives and work in Japan. Most of the time, Uyi does two things essentially on Facebook: he condemns everything Nigeria and praises everything Japanese. Uyi argues often that despite the religious professions of Nigerians, we do not possess an iota of the integrity that the Japanese have. Uyi is convinced that the white men deceived Nigerians into imbibing their religions; because in Japan, where he lives, and a nation that rejected the white man’s religion, is doing a lot better than Nigeria that imbibed their religion. This is what is at the root of Uyi’s question. Now, I will be answering Uyi’s question directly without recourse to his worldview but I think it is important that we appreciate where Uyi’s question is coming from.
The Christian gospel states that God is the maker of the heavens and the earth. It also tells us that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He came to this earth, lived and died, and then rose again to obtain eternal life for God’s people. While the Bible tells us that wicked men crucified Jesus, biblical theology shows that the death of Jesus was brought about by the hand of God himself (Isaiah 53:10, John 3:16, Acts 2:23). Also, in keeping with the glorious doctrines of the sovereignty of God, it is safe to say that nothing happens in our world outside the will of God: God permitted the death of his Son, nay, God killed Jesus. In fact, our Lord Jesus himself alludes to this when he says that no one takes his life from him; that rather, he lays down his life by himself (John 10:18). So, Uyi’s question is very relevant. Why did God kill Jesus? I will attempt a few answers and I trust that God will give all of us ears to hear. Amen.
An Old Testament Example: The concept of sacrifices is something that is almost entirely foreign to modern thinkers. But in the days of old, it was not uncommon to see sacrifices being made. The Old Testament accounts shows that God, the maker of the heavens and earth, is also interested in sacrifices but these sacrifices must be done only in the manner he prescribes. This is why the book of Leviticus in the Old Testament speaks almost entirely on how the Israelites were to carry out acceptable sacrifices to God. One of such sacrifices were the ones that the people of God were to carry out to be able to obtain absolution from their sins. The idea is this: God is in a relationship with men; God is holy and just but men are prone to sin. The justice of God will not overlook the sins of men; a holy God must punish sin. So, when men sin, God commands that they sacrifice an animal. In the process, God’s justice is satisfied in the death of the animal, while men are absolved of their sins.
The Bible then goes on to show us in the book of Hebrews that this system of animal sacrifices was not meant to be entirely full proof; God had a better sacrifice in mind. The animal sacrifices were meant only to be a picture of an ultimate sacrifice to come. The ultimate sacrifice is one where God will take his own Son, Jesus Christ, and sacrifice him for the sins of his people. God killed Jesus as a substitute for his people; he poured his wrath on Christ, which he normally should have poured on his people. Jesus Christ died. And proof that that sacrifice was acceptable before God is that Jesus Christ rose again, defeating death – which is the ultimate end of all sinners. So, the Christian is the person whom God will not hold his sins against him because of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross; also, the Christian is one whom death will have no dominion over because Christ has defeated death. God killed Jesus to redeem you and I from our sins. This example is shown in the story of Abraham trying sacrifice his son, Isaac, in Genesis 20; it is seen in the numerous sacrifices in the Old Testament; and it was prophesied by numerous prophets in the Bible.
The Raging Reality of Hell: The leading reasons why many atheists reject the concept of God is when they consider the reality of hell. They rage against it; they say that a God who claims to love the humanity he made should not put men in a hell forever. If, however, they will consider why God killed his own Son, especially to save them from hell, they may appreciate better what God is doing. Hell is eternal burning of rebellious men by a holy God. However, the first person to experience hell may have been God himself. Jesus Christ is regarded by Christians as God coming in the flesh. The crucifixion of Christ was hellish. God allowed himself to be mistreated by creatures he made; he was humiliated – crucified naked; and he died an ignoble death – the most brutal death known at the time. God experienced hell in this life so as to save you and I from hell in the afterlife. God killed Jesus – he brought hell on his Son, so that you and I will not experience the raging reality of hell.
The Monstrosity of Our Sins: Sin is at the root of God killing his righteous and holy Son, Jesus Christ. I have written above of the concept of sacrifice; the Old Testament sacrificial procedures; and Jesus Christ being a fulfilment of all these. What we too many times fail to see is the monstrosity of sin. But biblical accounts give us examples. Atheists will often say no one has been to heaven and returned to tell us their experiences. Fortunately, we have three biblical accounts that show us what heaven is like. In Isaiah 6, the prophet meets God seated on his throne in heaven. His first reaction was to the absolute holiness of God and the total sinfulness of men. The only way for a holy God to associate with sinful men is when their sins are taken away. God killed Jesus to take away our sins, so that sinful men can approach a holy God in prayer and also see a holy God at death.
In Zechariah, we see the prophet before the throne of God clothed in filthy garments (Zechariah 3:1-5). The devil is by his side accusing him. The context shows that all the accusations are true. But rather than considering the accusations of the devil, God simply instructs that the filthy garments be changed into new ones – signifying righteousness. In the same vein, Christians will stand condemned by their sins before a holy God. But even as the devil and our consciences accuse us, God will place another garment on us – it is called the righteousness of Christ. God will simply substitute our deeds with the deed of Christ and the accuser of the brethren will cease his accusations. God killed Jesus so that the day the devil stands to accuse us of our sins, God will show him that Christ has died to take away our sins. God’s full wrath is satisfied in the death of his own Son.
Finally, we have an account by Christ himself. It is the story of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:19-31). Lazarus was a beggar on earth; the rich man had all things to his satisfaction on earth. When they are both dead, Lazarus is in heaven, while the rich man is in hell. The rich man asks that someone be sent to instruct his brothers so they also do not end up in hell like him. Abraham replies that his brothers do not need divine visitations from heaven – God has given them all they need: God has given them Moses and the prophets. What that means is this: the biblical accounts show you and I what we must do to avoid the eternal wrath of God. God is holy and angry with sin, and his justice will punish sin. God poured his wrath for the sin of his people on Christ; God killed Christ so that he would not have to punish you for your sin. When you trust in Jesus Chris as your Lord and Savior, God takes all your sins and puts it on his Son. God killed his Son so that you and I might live. This is what Moses and the prophets teach and this is the only way to avoid hell.
Japan is a leading producer of goods to the world’s market. I am aware that Toyota, Nissan, Canon, Panasonic, and others are Japanese brands. They produce vehicles, electronics, etc. Every product these manufacturers make come with a user’s manual. The only way you can use the product optimally is by studying the user’s manual and following the instructions given therein. In the same manner, God made the heaven and the earth. God produced all living things, including men – who are the pinnacle of his creation. Then God provided a manual for us and told us that if we must live optimally in this life and in the life to come, we must follow the instructions that he has given in his manual, which is the Bible.
In the Bible God gives us the story of how the world was made. He tells us how sin came into the world. He gives us an example of how he will rid humanity of sin through the Levitical sacrifices. And then, God sent his Son, Jesus, to fulfill all these. Christ died on the cross – God killed his Son – so that you and I may be saved from our sins. The Bible does not give account of how electronics are made; it does not tell us how sicknesses are cured; the Bible simply tells us how you and I can find peace with our creator – both in this life and in the life to come. This, my friend, is the reason God killed Jesus.