This question is a tough one for me and a very important one as well. I am sure I will be modifying this article quite a lot as I keep learning and researching on the topic.
According to scripture, Jesus died cruelly and innocent for us, nailed on a cross by the Romans following a short trial. He was resurrected 3 days afterwards and triumphed. However, why did he had to die in such a cruel way? Was he really innocent and why do we we hear sometimes that he died to take our sins away?
The innocent lamb
Jesus knew that his death was coming and he informed his apostles about it in a subtle way. In prayer and preparation he sweat blood in the garden of Gethsemane. Still, despite he kew that his cruel death was coming, he did not run away but faced it head on. After Peter tried to defend Jesus and wounded a soldier that came to capture Jesus, he even healed that soldier on the spot.
When reading about the trial, we understand that Roman prefect Pilate, the one who handed him over to be crucified, states three times that Jesus is innocent1.
Thus, why did Jesus have to die innocently? We understand that the jewish priests and leaders demanded for Jesus to be crucified as Jesus called himself the Son of God2 and they thought this is blasphemy. However only the Romans were permitted to execute someone3. The Jewish leaders and priests thus pressured Pilate to crucify Jesus and he gave in to their demand eventually.
What a tragic and cruel story. It is not at all pleasing to read that parts of the Bible. As an all powerful God, why did Jesus let himself be treated that unfairly? He actually did not defend himself in any way and fully embraced the injustice. He, as from the beginning of time starting with Adam and Eve, let the will of humans reign without interfering.
To me this shows love. Love for our human imperfection and a God that lets us our free will. A God that says, it is OK to be wrong and paves us the way for mercy. One that is even willing to suffer the utmost and in the end also die for us, due to our imperfection, our misbehaviors. A God that wants to show us by example that the life on earth is only temporary and that what truly counts is the life after death. A life that is a reality – although we cannot see or touch it.
In the first book of the Bible, Genesis we read that Adam and Eve were expelled from paradise. God wanted to ensure that in the state of sin they were in, they do not eat from the “Tree of life” and live forever. Jesus promises that when we believe in him, we will live forever. Thus I think, he himself is this tree of life. All we have to do is to believe in Jesus, disobey the commandments and thus be good, pure and humble in our heart. Following this, we will be able to ‘eat’ from the ‘tree of life’ and our spirit will live forever. Through his life and ultimate sacrifice, Jesus opened the gateway to heaven and paradise for us – preparing the path. All we have to do is to walk the way.
Bible quotes as reference:
1Pilate about the innocence of Jesus: “He is not guilty of any crime”. (John 18:38), “…but understand clearly that I find him not guilty” (John 19:4), “I find him not guilty” (John 19:6)
2Jesus called himself the Son of God: John 19:7
3Only the Romans are allowed to execute someone (John 18:31)