BITE-SIZE THEOLOGY (67) – Was Jesus’ death just an unfortunate accident?

[圖片說明] Ecce Homo (1520), a painting by Netherland painter and draftsman Quentin Matsys, Doge’s Palace (Venice, Italy)

– Rev José Mario O Mandía

When we think of the passion and death of Jesus, we may think that it was an unfortunate conclusion to His life on earth, something that could have been avoided. But Scripture tells us otherwise.

The suffering and death of Jesus Christ was not an accident; the Cross was not a result of bad luck. It was all planned out, not by any human being, but by the all-wise, all-loving and all-powerful God. It was all scripted, done “in accordance with the Scriptures.”

If we read, for example, Isaiah 53:2-7, it describes the suffering of the Messiah: … he had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth” (cf also Psalm 22).

Jesus also made His apostles understand that He was not an unsuspecting Victim. “No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord” (John 10:18).

After His Resurrection, when He appeared to two of His followers, He had to explain to them that the things that happened to Him had all been foreseen and foretold. “‘Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:26-27; cf CCCC 118, CCC 599-605, 619).


Jesus had to undergo all this because that was how God’s justice could be fully meted out (cf Bite-Size Theology 59): someone had to take the blame. And Jesus did. The innocent one took the place of the criminal. It was the way for him to buy us our ticket to heaven. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (II Corinthians 5:21; cf CCC 603 & 604) God “shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).


If it were all planned, then the question that arises in our mind is: “Were those who participated in the killing of Jesus mere puppets or pawns in the plan?” Again, the CCC no 600 explains: “To God, all moments of time are present in their immediacy. When therefore he establishes his eternal plan of ‘predestination,’ he includes in it each person’s free response to his grace … For the sake of accomplishing his plan of salvation, God permitted the acts that flowed from their blindness (cf Matthew 26:54; John 18:36; 19:11; Acts 3:17-18).”

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