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Did Jesus want to die for us, or did He try to find a way out of it? How did He submit to the Father’s will? Troy Lacey, AiG–U.S., responds.
I had a question about the will of Christ! I have read a lot of things lately that seem to suggest that Christ didn’t want to die for us and just submitted to the will of the Father. Hebrews 5:7–10 and Matthew 26:39–42 describe what I’m struggling with! Did Christ want to die for us? Did God Die cause how can God die? Did Christ try to find a way out of dying for us? Was it Jesus will too, to die for us or was he just submitting to the Father?
I know this is not about Genesis but you guys seem to know what you’re talking about! Thanks.
Hello H.R., thanks for writing in to Answers in Genesis, and for your kind words about our ministry. Your series of questions all are intimately tied up with what theologians call the hypostatic union of Christ. The hypostatic union refers to the perfect union of Christ’s two natures—one fully human and one fully divine. What this doctrine teaches is that these two natures are united in one person in the God-man. Jesus is not two persons, nor is He God part of the time and the man at other times. He is one person. The hypostatic union is the joining of the divine and the human in the one person of Jesus. Admittedly, this is a complex subject, but that’s to be expected since we are finite beings attempting to comprehend the infinite God.
This doctrine was precisely stated in the Westminster Confession of Faith (1646).
The Son of God, the second Person in the Trinity, being very and eternal God, of one substance, and equal with the Father, did, when the fullness of time was come, take upon him man’s nature, with all the essential properties and common infirmities thereof; yet without sin: being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the Virgin Mary, of her substance. So that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood, were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion. Which person is very God and very man, yet one Christ, the only Mediator between God and man.
To answer your question, we must keep the hypostatic union in mind. If we fail to properly grasp this concept, then it can lead to gross theological error and even a denial of the full humanity and full divinity of Christ, significantly harming the gospel. Here is a chart explaining some of the false views people have developed about Jesus, along with some of the ramifications of these views.
|Some Unbiblical Views of Jesus Christ|
|View||Time||Fully man||Fully God||Explanation of Error / Consequence|
|Docetists||1st century||Denied||Affirmed||Jesus only appeared to be a man. / If true, then Jesus would not have been a descendant of Adam, so He could not have been our High Priest to die for the sins of the people (Hebrews 2:17).|
|Ebionites||2nd century||Affirmed||Denied||Jesus received the Spirit at His baptism. He was not preexistent. / If true, then Jesus was not truly God and is not worthy of worship.|
|Arians||4th century||Affirmed||Denied||Jesus was a created being, thus He was not truly God. / If true, then Jesus is not worthy of worship, and He would have lied when claiming to be one with the Father (John 10:30).|
|Appollinarians||4th century||Denied||Affirmed||Jesus had a human body, but in the place of a human mind was the divine Logos. / If true, then Jesus would not have been fully human, could not have been tempted in all points as we are (Hebrews 4:15), and He could not be our High Priest.|
|Nestorians||5th century||Essentially denied||Essentially denied||Denied the unity of the person of Christ by holding to two separate persons—a human person controlled by the divine person. / If true, then only a mere man died on the Cross, not the God-man, Jesus Christ.|
|Eutychians||5th century||Essentially denied||Essentially denied||Denied the distinction of the two natures of Christ. / The blending of these two natures would create a new third nature, so Christ would not have had a human nature or a divine nature, thus He was neither fully God nor fully man.|
We know that Jesus did want to make final atonement for sinners. We also know that Jesus knew He had to die to accomplish this. Passages such as Genesis 3:15; Psalm 22:1, 16–18; Isaiah 53:5–11; and Daniel 9:26 testify that Christ would suffer and be killed. The passage in Isaiah makes it clear that the Messiah would be killed as a sacrifice for our sin.
What is also shown in Scripture, however is that Jesus willingly went to the Cross, and that He wanted to be the once for all sacrifice for our sins, and wanted the Holy Spirit to come to indwell believers. Let’s examine a few passages which highlight this.
Jesus Christ willingly went to the Cross.
“And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd. Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” (John 10:16–18)
Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. (John 13:1)
Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)
Jesus Christ wanted to die for mankind’s sins.
Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities. (Isaiah 53:10–11)
Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day.” (Luke 24:46)
Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. (Hebrews 2:17)
Jesus Christ wanted to send the Holy Spirit, which required Him to go back to the Father.
Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. (John 16:7)
However, because Jesus was fully human, that nature did not wish to die, as in reality all humans nourish and cherish their own flesh (Ephesians 5:29). In the Matthew 26:38–42 and Hebrews 5:7–10 passages, we get a glimpse of this human response from our Savior. In praying to the Father, Jesus essentially asked if there was an alternative way to save sinners, when He stated, “
If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me.” In complete obedience, He resigned Himself to the Father’s will. In His humanity, He did not want to suffer and be crucified, but since there was no other way for sinners to be saved, He faced death willingly. This certainly destroys the idea that there are “many paths to God” so prevalent today. It is an affront to Christ, who endured the Cross and its shame.
Read the passage below and keep in mind the many Old Testament prophecies about Christ’s death, as well as what Jesus said about His upcoming death, and the sending of the Holy Spirit.
Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. (Romans 5:5–11)
In His humanity Jesus did not want to die—He did not enjoy the thought of being beaten and crucified. He did not relish the thought of being scorned and spit upon, yet He looked beyond all this to the joy that was set before Him—to be the One who would reconcile mankind to God. He also knew that His sacrifice would not only justify sinners in the sight of a Holy God, but it would also make it possible for Him to send the Spirit to indwell us. The Spirit also instructs believers in righteousness and makes it possible for us to understand Scripture and become more Christ-like (John 16:8–15, 1 Corinthians 2:13–16, Galatians 5:16).
So in one sense, Jesus, in His humanity, did not want to die, but He knew it was necessary for him to do so if mankind was to be saved. However, being fully God, Jesus did want to die for His enemies so that they would be saved and reconciled.