Friday, March 28, 2008

A Theological Question concerning Sacrifice and Suffering

I have a question. This is not a hypothetical question meant to spurn discussion, but a real question that I've been thinking about this week. Here goes:

Why did Jesus have to suffer the way that he did, or did he even have to? Obviously, I understand that Jesus was required to die as a substitutionary payment for our sins. Given the foundation laid out in Exodus, I understand that Jesus' execution was necessary. But what I can't figure out is why was Jesus hit, beaten, spit upon, mocked, falsely accused, and scourged.

Under Mosaic Law, the animal that was to be sacrificed as a payment for sin was quickly and humanely killed. Why wasn't this the case with Jesus?

Was there some theological, divine reason that Jesus was punished above and beyond his sacrificial execution? (Did God have a purpose in it?)

Or was it simply man's doing that Jesus was made to endure these things in addition to the sacrificial death he was to bear? (Were the Jewish and Roman leaders just being a bunch of jerks?)

Why couldn't Jesus have simply been executed the way that the animals were under Mosaic Law?

This isn't a rhetorical question. I expect some answers.


Tom said...

Good question! Some might respond, "To fulfill prophecy." But since prophecy comes from God this doesn't really answer the question.

I don't have the answer. Hopefully someone else will.

The Dan Ward said...

Pilate makes it clear he doesn't want to execute Jesus, and yet he hands Him over to be beaten before the crucifixion. That seems contradictory, doesn't it? Why beat the man you don't want to kill? I wonder if perhaps the beating was actually an act of mercy.

Here's why I say that: death on a cross took a very long time. Usually, the person's legs would have to be broken, to speed up the process. But when they came to Jesus to break his legs, he was dead already. The soldiers seem a bit surprised by that. Jesus seems to have died faster than most. Perhaps the beatings beforehand weakened him and brought about his inevitable death faster. Maybe Pilate, knowing Jesus would have to die (and not being thrilled about it), did what he could to make it as fast as possible.

I'm not sure if I read that theory somewhere or if I just came up with it. I have no idea if it's true, but I think it's possible. Not sure if it really answers your question or not, but I thought I'd pass it along...

fred said...

Good question Lew...

The first thing I thought was to fulfill prophecy, but I agree with Tom. That doesn't really answer the question. God obviously ordained that His Son would go through all the "extra" stuff.

Piggy-backing what Dan mentioned above, could it have been that Pilate turned him over to the Jewish leaders hoping that the beating he knew Jesus would receive at their hands would satisfy them, thus saving Jesus' life in the end?

Just a thought...I will have to think and read more about this...

blake said...

I'd say there are several reasons. First, and most importantly, picks up on the concept of "substitutionary atonement." Jesus wasn't just a sacrifice. He was our substitute, he took our place. He got what we deserved. And, without Christ, what every human deserves is God's wrath (Yes, a lake of fire and brimstone--that is not a man made concept that old-time preachers used to use to up their attendance). Even more than the physical sufferings Christ endured, there was the ultimate suffering in being forsaken by God. It was through Him receiving the wrath of God for our sin that God was satisfied (propitiation).

Other reasons:

--> Fulfillment of propehcy (Isaiah 53 and numerous others)
--> Jesus said it (Matthew 16:21)
--> An example for us (1 Peter 2:22)
--> For Christ's exaltation (Philipians 2:8-9)
--> To identify with us (Hebrews 4:15)
--> To give hope of overcoming suffering (Revelation 3:21)

Steven Mullins said...

In a pitiful attempt to state the obvious, He didn't have to suffer the way He did.... That's why it's so ridiculous.. and perfect. Without the benefit of the New Testament documenting Christ's walk, and without television or newspapers to fairly spread His goodness to the masses, is it really so crazy to see how he was treated. I mean, He must have seemed something of a cult leader. Add to that the complexities of political corruption and human jealousy and it becomes difficult to understand how any of us might not have taken part in His brutal death.

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