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Phil and Linda Byler, missionaries in Sudan
April 2, 2013 8:03 am
Published in: Uncategorized

Phil sharingOur cell group met as usual on Wed night of Holy Week. We discussed from John 10 Jesus words, “No one takes it (my life) from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” One of our group wondered, “but how can Jesus say that when not long thereafter his life was taken by crucifixion.”

What was the cause of Jesus death?

As a Family Doctor I used to have to fill out death certificates. Besides all the details of name, place, date and time of death there was the need to list (1)  immediate cause: ___, (2) secondary to: ___ (underlying condition).

Reading through the four gospel accounts of the death of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, I wondered how a Roman coroner would have filled out his death certificate. For a typical crucifixion victim it might have been (1) Immediate cause: asphyxiation (suffocation) (2) secondary to: crucifixion (3) secondary to:  Capital Punishment.

However such a cause of death does NOT fit with the way Jesus died. The eyewitness accounts relate that instead of slipping into a stupor and then a coma and becoming gradually weaker until breathing gradually faded into death, Jesus was carrying on intelligent conversations and then suddenly cried out in a loud voice and immediately gave up his spirit, breathing his last at 3 PM on Good Friday.

Mark records it like this. “With a loud cry Jesus breathed his last…. And when the Roman Centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, Surely this man was the son of God!”  The experienced Centurion was astonished that this man did not die like crucified victims always die.

The obvious  conclusion is that despite the agony of the cross it was not the cross which killed Jesus. He did not die of suffocation. He did not die of massive blood loss. He did not die of dehydration, or a heart attack or any other diagnosis that  has ever been written on a death certificate.

Instead, at the self-appointed time on Passover day, precisely at 3 PM, just at the time for the Passover lambs to be slaughtered at the temple, Jesus voluntarily gave up his spirit to the Father to fulfill the Eternal Plan of Salvation. He was not a victim of the cross. He was not the victim of Roman soldiers or of the religious leaders. Rather, He was completely in charge of the method and the timing and the circumstances of his death. He exercised His authority to lay down his life.

Perhaps his death certificate would be something like:
Immediate cause: Voluntary release of spirit /life
Secondary to: Willingness to pay the awful penalty for sin
Secondary to: Eternal plan of God
Secondary to: LOVE of God for mankind

WOW, to me this minute glimpse into an almost obscure detail related to His death, resounds with volumes of amazement and awe for this incredible God/man JESUS. Oh, the LOVE! Oh, the Authority! Oh, the power! Oh, the precise fulfillment of prophecy!  Once again Jesus, we stand in awe of you! And love for you.

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