The most common belief among Christians is the belief that Jesus died for our sins, but the question is: Do we have a solid account that proves this? Christians say that when Adam sinned, the sin entered the world and human nature became sinful, and God said that sin requires blood atonement. Then God decided to cancel this atonement but there was a major problem; God decided previously that a sin must have a blood atonement and God won’t be back in his word so there must be a pure atonement, and since there is no pure human being and all men are sinners, so God decided to be a man and die for our sins. Now let’s examine this in deep.
All men are sinners?
Actually unlike what Paul said that all people have sinned, the Bible says that there were people who were following God blamelessly as Zecharias and Elizabeth for example:
Luke 1:5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
One might say that they had the sinful nature because they are the descendants of Adam, but actually this is against what Ezekiel says:
Ezekiel 18:20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.
Doesn’t God forgive sins without Jesus dying?
This is the message of Islam as shown in the article Concept of salvation between Islam and Christianity. No need for all that so that God forgives my sins, and this is what is also said by the Old Testament:
“But if a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 22 None of the transgressions that he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness that he has done he shall live. (Ezekiel 18:21-22)
And when the Bible claimed that David made a sin with the wife of Uriah, David wasn’t stoned and wasn’t asked to give a sacrifice because he sinned, simply God forgave him:
2 Samuel 12:13 And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said unto David, The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.
So we find here that David was forgiven without any need to sacrifices. Even when it said that his child will die, this wasn’t a sacrifice to the sin of David because according to the verse this wasn’t considered as atonement for David’s sin rather because he gave a great occasion to the enemies of God. Besides, it’s not fair that a son dies for the father’s sin as Ezekiel says in Ezekiel 18:20 mentioned above.
Did Jesus know that he came to die for our sins?
Jesus (Peace be upon him) wasn’t clear in clarifying his supposed main message, something like this must have been very clear so that no one doubts, but even according to the Gospels, it seems that Jesus didn’t know about it when he said:
John 17:4 I glorified thee on the earth, having accomplished the work which thou hast given me to do.
This was before crucifixion; Jesus tells that he accomplished the work God gave to him. This work is to tell people about God as all prophets did. If he really knew that he came to die for our sins and the plan of salvation Christians talk about it, he won’t have said that he accomplished the work God gave him to do. If Jesus must die for our sins to be forgiven, why did he forgive the adulterer without dying for her?
Now let’s examine the verses used to prove that Jesus died for us, the first verse used is John 3:16, but actually there is a doubt in referring this verse to Jesus. One of the Biblical commentators say regarding this verse:
This “Little Gospel” as it is often called, this “comfortable word” (the Anglican Liturgy), while not a quotation from Jesus is a just and marvellous interpretation of the mission and message of our Lord. (Robertson’s Word Picture)
That’s why some versions, as the NIV for example, ended the quotation at John 3:15, and said in the footnotes that some interpreters put the quotation at 3:21. This means that there is a diversity concerning referring the most famous verse in the Bible to Jesus (Peace be upon him).
If Jesus was really God, and this was really the reason for his coming, he would have kept on declaring that clearly so that no one doubts it. However he didn’t, this was the only that verse and there is a diversity concerning who said it. Where are the other Gospels? There should be an agreement on this critical belief among all gospels. Besides how would God give His son? And how would he save people? And save them from what? The verse didn’t say all that, and Jesus never answered these questions, Paul only did. All these questions are put supposing that Jesus really said so, but he even didn’t say it. A belief must be built on a solid ground, otherwise it falls.
The second verse used to prove this belief:
Matthew 26:28 for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
Actually Jesus was pointing to wine saying this is his blood, and saying that it will be shed for the redemption of sins, but this refers to wine, and it may explain what the Catholic belief says on wine becoming Jesus’ blood and shedding the blood may refer back to the wine as it is what he refers to from the beginning.
Also there is another verse used to prove this is that one used, which is that Jesus predicted to suffer from the Pharisees and that he will be killed and raised from death, actually I don’t see a relation between this verse and the belief that he’d die for us, it only tells that he would die, but it didn’t say that this will be for our sins.
Christians cite this point of Jesus’ death with the atonements in the OT. According to Christian belief, who put the rule that there must be an atonement for blood so that the sins are forgiven, who put this rule? Isn’t He God? So how can this be a sacrifice? What Jesus did is not a sacrifice, but he just gave a solution to a problem God of Christianity caused? He is the one who put the rule and it was found to be impractical, he did what he did to solve the problem. So either God of Christianity didn’t know the consequences of this rule, so he made a problem and solved it, which is against God’s omniscience, or that he actually knew and did what he did to make a show that he loves you.
The second thing, people are accounted for their intention, if one does something and this deed gives consequences other than who you intended it to be, then he shall be accounted for his intention not for the consequences. For example if I robbed a guy walking in the street and gave what I stole as a gift to a friend of mine, then I discovered that the guy I robbed actually stole this stuff from my friend, am I a thief or a noble guy who wanted to help my friend? For sure a thief, as my intention was just to steal a person and I didn’t know the other part of the story.
That’s exactly what the death of Jesus was about, it wasn’t intended by the Jews to make a sacrifice or atonement so that Jesus takes away their sins, they were just looking to him as someone who shall destroy their leadership and positions and they wanted to get rid of him. So the whole action cannot be considered atonement, but as murder crime, and this has nothing to do with what Jesus himself intended, because he is not the one who implemented the action, otherwise he would kill himself.
In addition, Jesus forgave the adulterer in John 8 (although there is a doubt in referring this story to Jesus), and he didn’t need for example to be stoned so that he abrogates stoning the adulterers, so it is not the point that God needs an atonement to forgive sins, otherwise he would die for the people.
This chapter is commonly used by Christians to say that Isaiah foretold that Jesus shall die for our sins. However it talks about the persecution that took place against the Israelites and it will be clear during the time of Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian captivity and then the relief from God when the Persian king Cyrus II ended it. The righteous Israelites suffered the result of the sins of Jehoiakim and the Israelite sinners that caused the captivity. There are many reasons why we say that Isaiah 53 doesn’t speak about Jesus:
- Christians believe that Jesus is God. Although it’s clear that this chapter doesn’t speak about God but rather a servant of God as it’s seen in verse 52:13. Also verse 53:13 says “I divide him a portion with the great”. God doesn’t need that God gives Him a portion with the great because God was, is and always will be the All great and He cannot be compared to ordinary men.
- Verse 53:7 talks about a man who was despised and forsaken of men. This can be applied on the Israelites during the time of the Babylonian captivity. On the other hand, Jesus was neither despised nor forsaken by men, he was followed by great multitudes from Galilee and Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judaea and from beyond the Jordan. (Matthew 4:25), and he was glorified of all (Luke 4:15) to the point that he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him (Mark 3:9).
- Verse 53:7 says that he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter. Jesus said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. (Luke 22:36) He asked the Father to remove the cup away from him, and being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (Luke 22:42-44). If Jesus considers according to this prophecy that he had to die, he wouldn’t have ordered the disciples to sell their cloaks and buy swords and he wouldn’t have asked God to remove the cup from him because he already knows that He won’t answer him.
- Verse 53:10 says that he shall see his seed and he shall prolong his days. Jesus neither had a seed nor lived for a long age on earth. The word “seed” here can’t have the spiritual meaning because the Hebrew word used here which is “zerah” which means a real seed other than the word “ben” which can mean spiritual sonship as in Genesis 15:3-4:
Gen 15:3 And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed(zerah): and, lo, one born(ben) in my house is mine heir. Gen 15:4 And, behold, the word of Jehovah came unto him, saying, This man shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.
The same thing applies on prolonging days; this expression in Hebrew can’t mean everlasting life which doesn’t match with your belief that Jesus is the eternal God, the same for the word (servant) in verse 1. According to Christian belief only God can make the sacrifice which doesn’t match with this verse saying the word servant.