Now before you decide to hang me for heresy, let me explain. When I say “Jesus didn’t have to die“, I am fully aware that His death was necessary for the redemption of all mankind. I am aware of the verses that state He did these things so that the scriptures might be fulfilled. I am fully aware that had He not gone to mount Calvary, we would have no chance at salvation and eternal life with God in glory, but what we too often fail to consider is, He didn’t HAVE to do it, He CHOSE to.
To prove this point I take you to several events that scripture records through the life and ministry of Jesus. Quite often we read of accounts in the gospels where either the crowds or the Pharisees became very angry with Jesus because of His teachings. In many instances they were angered to the point of trying to kill Him, yet in every case they were unable to. Why? Because Jesus, being Deity, had all power to stop it knowing that not all had been fulfilled and the disciples had not yet been fully trained. It simply wasn’t time yet, so Jesus didn’t allow it to happen. He had all power to prevent it every single time. Note how easily and miraculously He escaped every incident prior to the Crucifixion.
“And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. But he passing through the midst of them went his way,” – Luke 4:28-30
“Therefore they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand, And went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized; and there he abode.” – John 10:39-40
“Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.” – John 8:59
Notice that in the above mentioned verses it says that Jesus walked right through the midst of His persecutors and they did not see Him. He was hidden. Let me paint a picture of this recurring event. Jesus is preaching, resistance rises up against Him, they proceed to attack, He vanishes before their very eyes and walks out right through the midst of them. They had no chance, because Jesus did not allow it.
Yet going back to scripture we can see that when it finally was time for Christ to be taken, when His captors came for Him, we get yet an other awesome display of His great power and majesty. This again demonstrates for all eternity His willingness to walk this out by choice, showing His overwhelming power and the minuteness of His captors in comparison.
“Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground.” – John 18:3-6
Did you catch that? When Jesus uttered the Words of His true Name and identity (I Am) they were all slain in the spirit at the power of that utterance and fell to the ground backwards. Yet He waited for them to come to, recoup and regroup, and went with them unresisted.
In our arrogance and selfishness we take on the mindset that the world changing event of the crucifixion of Christ had to happen because we, as humanity, somehow deserved to be saved. It’s just not true. We didn’t deserve to have an innocent, perfect, pure, and loving man (much less God), suffer and die such a horrific death on our behalf, baring our sins, our shame, and our punishment. However, to me, what makes this event all the more precious is truly realizing that Jesus had a choice. He did not have to go with the soldiers that day, but yet in choosing to willingly endure such immense suffering and death on the cross, He was really saying, “I choose you”. Knowing that, how can we not choose to say it back.
“Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” – Matthew 26:53-54
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13
“…for God is love.” – 1 John 4:8
Jesus did not “have” to die. It was well within His power to prevent it at all times. He didn’t “have” to save us, but rather He “chose” to. He chose to willingly endure all suffering to the point of death, out of love, to save you and me. Let the reality of that sink in as I leave you with these last few verses, the Words of Jesus Himself…
“As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh 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 commandment have I received of my Father.” – John 10:15-18