Christian Articles Archive

How Can God Die?

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson

Cross at dawn If you had been Peter, chances are you would have denied Jesus, too. Peter just couldn't understand what was happening.

If Jesus were the Son of God, Peter must have wondered, why didn't he stop the abuse and mockery Peter was witnessing in the high priest's courtyard? How could someone who was supposed to be divine put up with that?

Maybe it is just some tragic mistake, Peter may have thought. Perhaps, after all, Jesus is another sincere but misguided charismatic leader who has overwhelmed his followers with grandiose words and visions and thoughts of invincibility. And if that's the case, I'd better save my own skin while I can. "No," Peter insisted to the courtyard bystanders, "I don't know him."

Later that day, Peter watched Jesus, now brutally beaten, spiked to a cross, then jerked upright in the sun to hang, and gasp for air, and finally die. If Jesus were the Son of God, how could he die like that?

Peter was just as troubled the following Sunday when he ran to Jesus' tomb to find the body missing. The women told of angels' words that he had risen, but with his own eyes Peter had seen Jesus die. If he were a man--and he certainly died like a man--how could he return from death? Someone must have taken the body. Must have!

It is this quandary men and women have struggled with for centuries. If Jesus is God, how could he die? And if he is man, how could he rise?

The Roman soldiers guarding the tomb early that Easter morning were troubled by no such ponderings. One moment they sat mesmerized by the fire flickering in the chilly predawn hours. The next they were stunned by a brilliance of arc-light proportions, as the tomb's stone lurched aside and the radiant Jesus walked out alive!

How can God die, and how can man live? Why, for that matter, was Jesus conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin? Because Jesus is God's Son, sent to earth to lead us to our Father, to die for our sins, and to rise from the dead to show us that he is the source of everlasting life. He is the God-Man.

And what is that to me? His shameful death that Good Friday was a direct result of my sins. And his resurrection Easter morning was for me, as well. He died and lived for me. For me--and for you.

Copyright © 1985-2014, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastor@joyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.

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