Natural Causes

Why did Jesus die? He was beaten brutally, had a crown of thorns put on his head and beaten with reeds, he carried a heavy cross in this weakened state and was finally nailed hand and foot to it where he hung for hours. When they came to break his legs so his death would come quickly they found him already dead and when a soldier stuck him with a spear, blood and water flowed out of the wound. Apparently he’d suffocated. But Jesus didn’t die of natural causes like the criminals he was been crucified with did.

So if it wasn’t these brutal physical abuses that killed Jesus, what did? Jesus said,

“For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” – John 10:17-18 (emphasis mine)

Jesus laid down his life, no one took if from him. It looked like he was lead away as if he were not in control of his final hours, but he was. He laid down his life and he did that because the Father gave him authority to do so.

Also take a look at Psalm 69. It is pretty clearly a Psalm about Jesus. The New Testament applies verse 9 to Jesus in John 2:17 and Romans 15:3. Jesus applies verse 4 to himself in John 15:25. There are a few other passages that are cited from the Psalm that don’t directly apply to Jesus himself but indirectly to his enemies. Psalm 69 pretty strongly applies to Jesus. And in it, the Psalmist says:

For they persecute him whom you have struck down,
and they recount the pain of those you have wounded. – Psalm 69:26 (again, empahsis mine)

If we read Psalm 69 the way the New Testament does, you can’t help be notice that God struck down Jesus. As horrible as the physical punishments were, they weren’t what killed Jesus. He didn’t die of natural causes from his wounds. God placed the sins of all on him, turned his face from him and Jesus died. It is as if at the right time the Father said, “die for those sins now Son” and the Son said, “Yes Father” and he died. Jesus was never out of control. He entered Jerusalem at the right time knowing what was coming. He selected Judas knowing what he would do. He offered no defense against the false accusations of the Jewish leaders and wouldn’t excuse himself to Pilot. God gave Jesus authority and charge to lay down his life and take it up again. They and they alone were in charge of his death and resurrection. And they didn’t do it to be cruel but to save.

For it is for your sake that I have borne reproach,
that dishonor has covered my face.
I have become a stranger to my brothers,
an alien to my mother’s sons. – Psalm 69:7-8

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed. – Isaiah 53:4-5

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