“If Jesus died on the cross then that means God died. It just gets worse every time you go. Because if God died then that’s blasphemy. Who then would run the world?” Shabir ally.
By George Mitrakos| The above mentioned comment proposed by Shabir ally seems to be a wide spread misconception among divinity-deniers who use this argument to disprove the God-nature of Jesus. This is primarily due to the fact that the gospels portray Jesus as someone whose life had an end.
The question which arises then is how can God die? And if his existence did in fact come to an end, then who was running the world, as Dr Ally stated? Such misguided beliefs have driven many into denying that Jesus was God incarnate. But does the death of Jesus contradict his deity?
In order to answer this question, we are going to examine the following 2 points:
- What exactly died during the event of the crucifixion?
- Can a deceased human being perform any actions?
What died during the time of the crucifixion?
The primary means by which we will determine if the death of Jesus serves as evidence against his divinity is to first point out what exactly terminated during his time on the cross. Fortunately for us, Jesus provided the answer in John 2:19.
After Christ completely deprived the people of their merchandise and finances within the temple, the religious leaders demanded that he show them a sign from heaven that would prove he possesses the authority to engage in such actions. Christ goes on to say
“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again”.
Right away, the Jews turned their eyes to the physical surface of this statement rather than what Christ was really pointing to. They assumed that the temple was the physical structure that was situated in Israel which took its builders 46 years to erect. However, John extinguishes such misconceptions by stating that “The temple Jesus was talking about was his body”.
So in other words, what died during those 3 days was not his essential being, but merely his material body. Now many may falsely assume that the termination of the body is the termination of Christ’s spirit or soul.
However, Jesus clearly differentiated between these biological and spiritual constructs in Mathew 10:28 and Mark 14:38, displaying to us that although the spirit/soul dwell within our material form, they are indeed different from one another.
A very renowned biblical apologetics site called gotquestions.org states the following:
Jesus is truly God and truly man. His physical body did die; His heart stopped beating, and “he gave up his spirit” (Matthew 27:50). Just as our physical bodies will someday die, so did His. But as Jesus died physically, He remained alive spiritually. Jesus made good on His promise to the believing thief on the cross—He and the thief both went to paradise, not physically, but in spirit (Luke 23:43).
Can a deceased being perform any action?
According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary death means:
- a permanent cessation of all vital functions: the end of life — compare brain death
- an instance of dying <a disease causing many deaths>
- the cause or occasion of loss of life <drinking was the death of him>
- a cause of ruin <the slander that was death to my character — Wilkie Collins>
What we see is that the term death implies that one is dispossessed of both his biological life and vital functions. Even Shabir Ally by asking who ran the world if Jesus died is aware of the fact that a dead being cannot engage in any type of activity.
Yet when we read John 2:19 more carefully, we come to see something that many are not so quick at realizing. Notice that Christ said “I will raise this temple (his body) in three days”. This statement can be found in other plac es as well such as John 10:17-18 where Jesus says
“ I have lay down my life and I have the authority to take it up again”.
So the question we should be asking ourselves is not only who ran the world during his death, but how can Jesus do ANYTHING if he was deprived of his existence? The very fact that Christ raised himself from the dead demonstrates that he took part in the performance of specific actions and hence did not cease to exist.
This is what theologian Albert Barns has to say concerning John 10:17-18:
Power to take it again – This shows that he was divine. A dead man has no power to raise himself from the grave. And as Jesus had this power after he was deceased, it proves that there was some other nature than that which had expired, to which the term “I” might be still applied. None but God can raise the dead; and as Jesus had this power over his own body it proves that he was divine.
Within this article, what we saw is that the main victim of death and termination was not Christ’s being or existence, but rather his body. What we also saw is that although many claim that Christ was stripped bare of his spiritual and vital functions, he engages in certain actions such as raising himself from the dead.
Jesus took upon himself the role as Lamb of God by incarnating into a human body. What died during that redemptive day was not his soul/spirit, but his material form, the vehicle by which he entered the world. He forever lives, and demonstrated this by performing actions while his physical body was deceased.