Many times I have heard that Jesus died as punishment for our sins. I have heard people say that He had to be killed (sacrificed) so we could live. I keep hearing about the death of Jesus as if that were the reason He came. The Church teaches He came to unite humanity with divinity, which is our ultimate salvation. We call it being in communion with God, but that’s not what I want to talk about today.
Take a moment and read today’s Gospel reading:
At that time, the Jews tried to arrest Jesus, but he escaped from their hands. He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John at first baptized, and there he remained. And many came to him; and they said, "John did no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true." And many believed in him there. (John 10.39-42)
If the sole purpose of Jesus coming to earth was to be killed, then why did he escape? Why didn’t He allow them to capture Him right away? Why didn’t He just kill Himself as a sacrifice to God?
Jesus, the eternal Word of God and member of the Holy Trinity (as the Feast of Theophany teaches), became incarnate (we just celebrated Christmas a few weeks ago) so that He could unite humanity to His divinity. Since death is part of every human life as “wages of sin,” (Romans 6.23) as Saint Paul teaches, and Jesus was sinless, He had to be killed. You could say He would never have died of “natural causes” as we all do. If His mission was “just” about death, He could have allowed Himself to be captured and killed much sooner and caused much less commotion than He did.
But alas! That was not His mission. His mission was, and still is, to unite us to Himself, to share His diving nature with us. (2 Peter 1.4)