Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Anonymous Asks (8)

“If God doesn’t like suicide, isn’t what Jesus did kind of like that? Did God send His Son to be murdered?”

Hmm. Maybe I’ll go with the second question first.

Peter’s message to the Jews at Pentecost was: “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.” That puts the responsibility for Christ’s death squarely where it belongs, I think: God certainly delivered him up, but it was lawless men that crucified and killed him. We can argue that God knew in advance that his Son would be rejected and murdered, and this is certainly true, but everyone involved in putting the Lord Jesus to death made a personal choice, from Pilate to Herod to the soldiers who crucified him, most especially the Jews who cried out repeatedly for his death.

As for suicide, well, that’s another story …

Suicide, I think we would all agree, is a little different from self-sacrifice:
  • First, suicide is essentially a selfish act. We might argue it is the very peak of self-will and self-occupation. It puts the emotions and wishes of the suicidal person on a pedestal far above every other possible consideration. Sacrifice, on the other hand, puts the needs of others above the needs of self. If, as the Bible claims, the sins of the world are genuinely sufficient cause to keep us from the presence of God for eternity, then what the Lord Jesus did in offering himself to God on our behalf at tremendous personal cost is the ultimate unselfish act.
  • Further, suicide is nihilistic, which is to say “life-denying”. It repudiates the meaningful aspects of existence, regarding them as worthless. But rather than making the living dead, Christ’s sacrifice was life-affirming. By means of his death he gives life to all who believe, filling us with the very nature of the triune God and making us not only fit for God’s presence but capable of pleasing him in this life. Under the old way of things — in Adam — all die, but the second Adam (who is Jesus Christ) “became a life-giving Spirit.”
  • Finally, suicide is ... er ... final, in the sense that no suicide ever expects (or even wants) to get up and walk out of his own grave three days later. In the case of the Lord Jesus, we know that he always had every expectation of being raised from the dead. When he was alive, he told anyone who would listen, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” He assured his disciples in picture that his death was both necessary and preferable to remaining alive but alone: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” All the Psalms tell the same story: God could never leave the Lord Jesus in the ground, “For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption.” The Lord Jesus knew these long-established promises and relied on them.
So while it might seem superficially as if Jesus’ actions resemble suicide, a careful examination shows them to be worlds apart — pretty much literally.

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