Was Jesus a sin sacrifice? Why did Jesus have to die? (part 1 of 2)
It is commonly believed throughout much of Christianity that Jesus was a Sin sacrifice, the sacrificial passover lamb as it were. There are various different understandings of how the atonement works. However most believe that Jesus was a sacrifice by God….to God. (but that’s another point). God sacrificed his son in order that the son could be punished by God so that believers can be forgiven of their sins and not have to take the punishment themselves. Jesus took our place.
This argument is often used by Muslims, Jews and atheists alike against Christians, who believe that God sacrificed Jesus to show that the Christian God is a masochistic God who had his son brutally sacrificed to appease his own wrath. How Christians who believe this cannot see the depravity and utter monstrosity in this belief that others see is beyond me. They very clearly have a very warped understanding of who God is (and it is this very understanding that will become vitally important in answering why Jesus had to do die in part 2 of this writing)
As I said there are many different understandings of this sacrifice but Jesus being a sacrifice is at the centre of most. There are verses that are used to demonstrate this belief and we will address them throughout this writing.
I shall also explain how Jesus was not and could not have been a sin sacrifice. I will also explain just exactly why Jesus had to die.
Let’s start with the “sacrifice” of Jesus by God
The bible never ever, not once, not in any verse, says that Jesus was sacrificed by God, that he was punished by God, that God took out his wrath on Jesus or that God punished Jesus so that he didn’t have to punish us. This is actually nothing more than conjecture and reading into the Bible a preconceived paganistic belief. Human sacrifice to appease God is a pure pagan belief that has no basis or foundation in the biblical text which I will deal with a bit later.
There are verses that are used to “prove” the understanding such as
Isaiah 53- 3But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
However this does NOT say that God sacrificed Jesus or ANYONE sacrificed him for that matter. We do know that Jesus was most brutally flogged and beaten.
Scripture very clearly states that Jesus was killed, he was MURDERED by the Jews. We know that it was actually the Romans who were the ones who carried out the actual crucifixion of Jesus but it was under the persuasion of the Jews whose Messiah Jesus was, and so it was attributed to them as if they had done it themselves. The blame for the death of the Jewish Messiah was accredited to the Jews themselves, not the Romans and certainly NOT God. This is stated throughout the Book of Acts.
Acts 2-23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
Slain here is the Greek ἀναιρέω anaireó which has a meaning of to kill a man
Acts 3- 14 But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; 15 And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.
Killed is the Greek ἀποκτείνω apokteinó or apoktennó meaning to put to death or kill
Acts 5-30 30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree
Slew is διαχειρίζομαι diacheirizomai to lay hands on or slay.
Acts 7- 52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers
Here we have ἀποκτείνω apokteinó or apoktennó again
Very clearly there is no reference to a sacrifice being made anywhere in these verses. They are clearly showing that Jesus was not sacrificed but murdered, he was killed, put to death or slain.
There are other verses that are also used to support this belief.
1 Peter 3-18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
Jesus most certainly did suffer through his death however again there simply is no mention of any sacrifice. Jesus suffered for our sins not that he was sacrificed for our sins
Jesus was willing to suffer and die so that he could take away our sins.
1 peter 2-24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
But again there simply is no sacrifice of Jesus by God.
The Bible very clearly states that JESUS sacrificed HIMSELF
Hebrews 1- 26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
Jesus simply was NOT a sacrifice by God and there are a number of biblical reasons why God could not have sacrificed Jesus, without even touching on the moral and theological implications that this “sacrifice” brings rise to.
To start with the passover lamb was to be spotless without blemish and also a year old.
Exodus 12- 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats:
Now Jesus may have been without sin but he most certainly was not without blemish seeing he had just undergone a long, painful and brutal beating by the Roman soldiers. He was also not 1 year old.
Often people will go to 1 Peter 1-19 to show that Jesus was the passover lamb
1 Peter 1-19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
However when we look at this in context and understanding we will see that actually the verse does not say Jesus was a passover lamb at all.
If we go back to verse 18
1 Peter 1-18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
We will see that Peter was simply saying that we are not redeemed by things of tradition such as silver and Gold but as verse 19 states by the blood of Jesus AS OF (like) there is the Greek word hōs ὡς which means like or as of a lamb. So the blood of Jesus redeems us or saves us just LIKE the passover lamb did in Egypt. Not that Jesus was the passover lamb. The blood of Jesus is simply being used as a comparison to the blood of the lamb. His blood now saves just like the lamb of the passover did in Egypt.
But what about 1 corinthians 5-7 that would seem to say he was a sacrificed passover?
1 Corinthians 5-7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us
To start with the verse certainly doesn’t say that God sacrificed Jesus. When we actually look in a bit more detail the verse is not that difficult to understand.
Jesus is OUR passover NOT the Passover lamb Jesus does now what the passover lamb did in Egypt. He is for us today OUR “passover lamb”. Just as the passover lamb was for the Israelites in Egypt.
The passover was not an atonement sacrifice for sins, rather it was a festival, a celebration a remembrance of God taking them out of Egypt. The sacrifice of the passover lamb was a commemorative act not one that atoned for sin. Commemorative of the actual passover that happened in Egypt. Jesus to us is like THAT lamb, the one that saved the Israelites in Egypt..not the commemorative one. It is by the blood of Jesus that we are now “passed over”. A sin sacrifice was NOT a passover lamb they were 2 very separate sacrifices. We shall see in a bit the truth of the meaning of the “sacrifice”.
God himself had commanded the Israelites not to partake in child sacrifice.
Leviticus 18-21 And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD.
Leviticus 20-2 Again, thou shalt say to the children of Israel, Whosoever he be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones.
Child sacrifice was FORBIDDEN by God
To say that God forbade child sacrifice but then claim that he himself sacrificed his child is a simply ridiculous and non biblically supported claim.
Why would God punish a perfectly innocent child in order to remove the sins of the “naughty” children. Would you sacrifice your good child if one of your children became naughty in order to remove the wrongs of the naughty child? This simply makes no sense whatsoever its illogical and utterly preposterous to even think that this has any morality or in fact any truth in it whatsoever and yet millions and millions of professing Christians believe this is exactly what God did.
This makes God a moral monster who is willing to kill one son in order to save other sons and daughters and requires appeasement for our sins rather than a God who wishes us to turn from our sins.
God does not require sacrifice to have mercy on or to pardon anyone. He will give these FREELY
Isaiah 55-7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
God does not want sacrifice, he wants people to turn from their ways and obey him.
Isaiah 1-11 To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.
1 samuel 15-22 And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.
And Jesus even states that the understanding regarding this is incorrect.
Matthew 12-7 But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.
Sacrifice was not what God wanted.
The concept is pagan in origin it is not Biblical. It comes from misunderstandings and misrepresentations of the death of Jesus. The Bible says that the idea of a child sacrifice was not something that God had even thought about. When the children of Israel started to sacrifice their children to the god Baal, which was simply a copy of what the pagans were doing, God stated that he had not commanded it neither had it come into his mind.
Jeremiah 19-5 They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire forburnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind:
God even called it an ABOMINATION
Jeremiah 32-35 And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fireunto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.
We also know that the plan for salvation was already in place from the very beginning as Jesus was slain from the foundation of the world.
Revelation 13-8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
Slain not sacrificed, Slain means killed. The Greek word here for slain is σφάζω sphazó and means to slay, to be put to death by violence, to butcher. There is nothing regarding a sacrifice here. Jesus was murdered not sacrificed.
Jesus was butchered he was murdered from the foundation of the world, the notion that Jesus was sacrificed by God is simply not found in scripture.
So if the plan was already in place from the beginning of the world but God says that child sacrifice was not in his mind then that plan that existed before child sacrifice had started could not have involved a child sacrifice seeing it had not come into his mind yet the plan was already in place. This is very simple logic. The plan could not have included God sacrificing his son.
The Jewish people who reject Jesus as the Messiah also reject the idea that a man could die for the sins of another. Now this alone does not make that understanding correct,lets not forget the Jews didn’t recognise their own Messiah when he came, however the Bible is very clear about this. A man could not die for another man’s sins, a man was responsible for his own sins.
Ezekiel 18- 20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.
21 But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. 22All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live. 23 Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?
Jeremiah 31-30 But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.
Exodus 32- . 31And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. 32Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin�; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written. 33And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book
As I have already stated the Bible never once says that God sacrificed Jesus or that he was a sacrifice to God. However Jesus was an OFFERING.
When we understand what the rest of scripture states we will see that this was HIS sacrifice. It was HIS offering. An offering by Jesus himself.
Hebrews 10-10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. KJV
Greek is προσφορᾶς prosphoras G4376 (root word G4374)and means Offering and can mean a sacrifice.
The NIV translates the word as sacrifice
Hebrews 10-10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
In verse 12 the KJV uses both offered and sacrifice.
Hebrews 10-12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; KJV
Offering is the word προσενέγκας prosenenkas G4374 to bring,to offer
Sacrifice is the Greek θυσίαν thysian which means to sacrifice or a sacrifice
Here the NIV translates this verse with the words OFFERED and SACRIFICE
Hebrews 10-12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, NIV
In Verse 14 the KJV uses offering
Hebrews 10-14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.KJV
Again the Greek word is προσφορᾷ prosphora
The NIV however goes back to translating it as sacrifice
Hebrews 10-14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. NIV
Jesus death was HIS offering , it was HIS sacrifice, Jesus offered himself as a sacrifice not that he was a sacrifice or he was sacrificed. He was not a sin sacrifice but he sacrificed himself for our sins.
God GAVE his son not sacrificed his son.
John 3-16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
God did not kill Jesus but he ALLOWED him to be killed. God could have stopped the crucifixion at any time
We are told that God could have saved him from death.
Heb 5:7 He, in the days of his flesh, having offered up prayers and petitions with strong crying and tears to him who was able to SAVE HIM from death, and having been heard for his godly fear,
We are also told that Jesus could have stopped this also as Jesus as he himself stated.
When Jesus was being arrested in the garden of Gethsemane Peter attempted to protect him yet Jesus told him to stop
Matthew 26-52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.
Jesus stated that if he wanted he could pray and the father would send more than 12 legions of angels to protect him
Matthew 26-53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?
But Jesus continues that how would the scriptures be fulfilled (the scriptures spoke of his death)
Matthew 26-54 But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?
Remember Jesus had already stated he had come to fulfill the law and the prophets
Matthew 5-17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.
The prophets spoke of the death of Jesus.
So why did God allow Jesus to die and why did Jesus not call on his father?
All will be answered in part 2