[Exerpt from my new book “Amazed – Why the Humanity of Jesus Matters”]
Death is the ultimate sacrifice. Jesus experienced death in his physical body for us as the penalty for sin. There was no escaping it, and Jesus knew it. Either we pay or he does. He lived the perfect, sin-free life. This qualified him to pay the price for us—and he did.
Who among us would not have taken ourselves down from that cross or stopped the beatings, ridiculing, punching, and being spat upon if we knew we had the power to do it? I squirm and whine in the dentist’s chair when I feel the slightest bit of pain. If I knew of another way to get my dental work done without the possibility of experiencing any pain, I’d do it in a heartbeat. And yet Jesus willingly submitted to the pain, and even though he knew he had the power to stop the proceedings at any moment, he chose not to. That was the Father’s will and he knew it. Jesus understood his purpose and mission, and even through the debilitating torture he looked neither left nor right but rather looked straight into the eyes of the Father, and said, “It is finished”.
“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity.” John 12:24–25
There are many paradoxes in life. Isn’t it curious that in the design of plant life, some of the seeds that have the ability to be converted into nourishing food for us must be set aside and allowed to die? Then, at some later time, these same seeds are planted again, spring into life as plants, and the seeds are multiplied in abundance. The dead seed brings new life. As we die to self, submit to the will of the Father, and follow his agenda rather than our own, God will use us to create a plentiful harvest. So, dying is not so bad after all?