Jesus forced to die?

Big Questions Section

This section includes answers to some big questions. We don’t claim to have the answers (only God has all the answers!) But we hope and pray this helps you and the young people you work with. These are not definitive and you may way disagree or be able to add more, but they hopefully act as an inspiration or starting point.

There are 18 questions answered here. We must also credit “When Skeptics Ask” by Norman Geisler and “Cosmic Codes” by Chuck Missler, “It makes sense” by Stephen Gaukroger and the website (Christian Research and Apologetics Ministry). We’ve tried our very best to give easy answers to the questions and then more advanced / detailed answers and even further study.

Didn’t God force Jesus to be born and die? He doesn’t sound good!

Easy Answer

There are many parts of the Bible that tell us that Jesus came into this world, sent by God. But God didn’t send him as if he was being sent to the ‘naughty chair’ or send him like he was being forced to come. In fact, if Jesus had been forced to come to earth, to die on a cross etc he wouldn’t have fulfilled the contract that had to be completed in order to set people free from all the wrong, and be right with God. In fact, Jesus came to earth like he was on an SAS or Navy Seals operation. He had a special mission to complete which only he could complete. He did this because of his great love for you and me. He wasn’t forced to, he volunteered to (see John 10.18 in the Bible for example) and even sweat blood in his desire to do what he had to do. He died a brutal, tortured death, was rejected by everyone and took the punishment for everything that anyone will ever do wrong. He did this because of his love for you. But we have to respond to this sacrifice by thanking Jesus and asking him to be number one in our lives.

Advanced Answer

When you read the Bible it’s very important not to just read one verse or one little bit and then try and find some kind of point from it on its own. If we take one verse from the Bible on its own we could end up believing wrong things (this is what the Jehovah Witnesses do).

Imagine you’re called Bob and you said to someone, ‘I like Scottish people, they’re amazing. I did meet one Scottish person who I didn’t like. But every other Scottish person I’ve met has been incredibly friendly!’ Now imagine they go away and say, ‘Bob said he doesn’t like Scottish people’. It wouldn’t be true. They either mis-represented what you said or took something you said but didn’t say it in the way you said it (called ‘context’). You would feel misunderstood. But this is often what happens with the Bible because people accidentally or deliberately say wrong things.

One idea which someone once asked me about is whether Jesus was forced to die on the cross. One reason was because the Bible talks about God ‘sending’ his Son, Jesus. In another place when Jesus is dying on the cross, he cries out to God ‘why have you rejected me’ and God turns his face away from his Son. Doesn’t this mean God is cruel?

Again, the trick is to know more about the Bible. If you look at one thing you could end up believing something wrong. This is the same about anything in the Bible. You have to understand things in the light of everything the Bible says.

If we look to the middle of the Bible we find the Psalms. These were written mainly by a King called David (and others). But in Psalm 40 verse 8, David looked ahead to the future about the coming of Jesus and how Jesus would delight to do God’s will. One of the unique things about the Bible is that before Jesus was born, many things were spoken about him that came true perfectly, when he was born. In John 4.34, Jesus fulfilled this when he said “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” For Jesus, obeying God was more important that physical food.

In Philippians 2, we find Paul talking about the life of Jesus (who had by then gone back to heaven). Paul says that Jesus basically willingly took on the role of a servant and humbled himself even to the point of dying on a cross because he wanted to obey God and because of his love for us. Jesus made this decision himself, he wasn’t forced to by God. In fact, if Jesus had been forced to come to earth to die to pay for our sin, it wouldn’t have really worked or been a ‘legal’ agreement. If you’re forced to sign a confession, it means the confession won’t stand in a court of law!

But let’s look at John 10.17-18 to hear some words from Jesus himself, “For this [reason] the Father loves Me, because I lay down My [own] life—to take it back again. No one takes it away from Me. On the contrary, I lay it down voluntarily…” So we find that Jesus laid his life down voluntarily. When Jesus spoke about being ‘sent’ by his Father it wasn’t a forced sending, it was that Jesus was on a mission!

But what happened on the cross when Jesus cried out, “God why have you rejected me?” First of all, some people would say that Jesus wasn’t simply saying God has rejected me. First of all, Jesus was directly quoting Psalm 22 verse 1. Secondly, some would argue it was Jesus shouting out to make people through time aware that he was experiencing the pain of being cut off from God so that we could be made right with God.

But the main reason is… on the cross Jesus was carrying all of the sin of all of mankind for all time to pay the price for our sin. This had to happen… Isaiah 53.6 says, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity (sin) of us all.” So God laid all our sin on Jesus. Jesus paid the legal price to pay for our sin. But he could only do this by living a sin-free life. 2 Corinthians 5.21 shows us this, “God made him who had no sin (Jesus) to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” So we are made right with God through Jesus. Jesus had no sin in him. He knew that he must pay the price for us and so he did. But because God is absolutely perfect and pure and holy, he cannot look on sin. So when Jesus carried all of our sin, the final piece of the puzzle (of the legal contract so to speak) was that Jesus had to experience a moment of separation from holy God, in order to fully pay the price for our sin. Many people believe that ultimately Jesus died of a broken heart as he experienced separation from God for the first and last time. This shows how much he loves us, that he would be prepared to do this. God wasn’t rejecting Jesus; Jesus was paying the price to set us free. Now he has done this, we can be made right with God but only through Jesus and through this ‘perfect legal contract’.