Jesus Died To Destroy Death

Sin leads to death.

Jesus died to destroy death, especially the death of the other.Yet the most disturbing death that we face is not the death that comes from sickness or old age. The flaw in sin that escalates death is its ability to create in us a willingness to kill others—out of rivalry, revenge, envy, or fear—in order to preserve ourselves. We justify the death of others at our hand by blaming them for all of the trouble and making them into a monster. Thus we hide the evil of our own violence by labeling it justice, usually God’s justice. In other words, since we’re the “good guy,” then God must be on our side.

Christ’s Death Tells the Truth About Violence

The willing death of Jesus put the lie to this cycle of violence. In his book, Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World, Rene Girard brilliantly explains how:

“First of all, it is important to insist that Christ’s death was not a sacrificial one. To say that Jesus dies, not as a sacrifice, but in order that there may be no more sacrifices, is to recognize in him the Word of God: ‘I wish for mercy and not sacrifices.’ Where that Word is not obeyed…where violence remains master, Jesus must die. Rather than become the slave of violence, as our own word necessarily does, the Word of God says no to violence.”

It’s Our Violence, Not God’s

In the same unjust way that we killed Jesus, we have unjustly killed every victim in history. The death of Jesus is about ending the bloodshed, about realizing that our desire to kill others in the name of (God’s) justice is not divine. Jeremy Myers gives yet another excellent perspective on this:

“God does not desire that anyone die for their sin, nor does He desire that anyone die for the sins of others, least of all His own Son! The death of Jesus on the cross at the hands of murderous religion revealed the truth about the death of the other once and for all. When we kill others in the name of God, we do so, not because God wanted them dead, but because we did. God is not the offended one; we are. When we kill others, we justify it in our own minds by saying that this person who must die has sinned and has so greatly offended God, that God wants them dead. But God does not want them dead. We want them dead, and we blame our murderous rage on God. We kill others for our own benefit by making them out to be sinners and blasphemers so that we can kill them in God’s name. Jesus defeats this murderous intent by showing us a different way. While the blood of Abel and all murdered victims after him cry out from the ground for vengeance, the blood of Jesus from the cross cried out for forgiveness. In this way, the blood of Jesus spoke a better word than the blood of Abel (Hebrews 12:24).” (emphasis mine)

The Cross Uncloaks the Lie

We thought God was like us. We thought He played a part in death. We thought He was on our side, aiding us in the death of our vile and villainous enemy. We thought God’s perfect other-centered love somehow encompassed Satan’s me-first, survival of the fittest principle. However, when men scapegoated and sacrificed Jesus for the “good of the nation,” the mask of Satan was torn away, and a stake was driven into the heart of any justification of the death of the other at our hands.

Or anyone else’s hands—especially God’s.

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