Since Jesus hated his life, he sacrificed nothing by allowing himself to be killed.
The first and great commandment requires us to love God with all our heart. However, since earthly life is ungodly, the man who loves life cannot truly love God. Because we love life, we even make covenants with death in order to avoid death. But how can we love God and fear death; the very thing that takes us back to God?
A messenger from heaven
The devil uses our love of life to hold us in bondage to sin and death. Therefore, the Father sent Jesus to show us the way out of this cul-de-sac. As a man, Jesus would allow himself to be killed and then rise from the dead; revealing that we need not fear death and continue to sin in order to save our lives. Thereby, God would fulfill his promise: “Your covenant with death will be annulled” (Isaiah 28:18).
Jesus did not like this assignment, but he submitted to the Father’s will (John 6:38). It meant leaving the Father, the love of his life, for thirty-three years; something he had never done before. It meant leaving the godliness of heaven for a sinful world which is under Satan’s power and control (1 John 5:19).
Moreover, it was risky. If Jesus too became seduced by the world, he would not be able to return to heaven. If, for whatever reason, he tried to save his life on earth, it would constitute a betrayal of the kingdom of heaven and he would lose his eternal life (Luke 17:33).
Jesus hated every minute of his life on earth. When he was only twelve years old, he declared that all he wanted was to be in his (heavenly) father’s house (Luke 2:49). But he could not go back home to heaven without first completing his assignment. Therefore, he bound Satan, the “strong man” of this world (Matthew 12:29); and on a number of occasions, carefully avoided being killed prematurely.
Jesus’ exit strategy
But once he had successfully planted the word of truth that makes men free in the hearts and minds of a few carefully-chosen disciples, Jesus was in a hurry to go back home. He committed his disciples to God’s care and said excitedly to the Father: “I am coming to you now” (John 17:13). He did not appreciate the sadness of his disciples. Why would they want him to stay indefinitely in this hateful world when he had the option of returning to glory in heaven? He said to them: “If you loved me, you would rejoice because I said, ‘I am going to the Father’” (John 14:28).
Indeed, it would have been agonising if Jesus had to wait until he grew old and died naturally before returning to heaven. But providentially, there was a planned short-cut. Once his mission was accomplished, he would go to Jerusalem. That would provide the ideal opportunity for the agents of the devil, the religious priesthood, to arrest him on false charges, prosecute him and have him killed. However, by so doing, they would only be providing him with a return-ticket back to the Father in heaven.
When Jesus revealed this exit-strategy in confidence to his disciples, Peter pulled him aside and said God forbid that Jesus should lose his life. Jesus reprimanded Peter harshly for this reaction. He recognised that, in spite of his mentoring, Peter continued to believe the lies of the devil about how good and wonderful life is in this world.
Pathway to eternal life
Therefore, what some regard as the atoning death of Jesus was nothing of the sort. Jesus’ crucifixion was simply a quick route by which he returned back home. A sacrifice requires us to offer something valuable. But since Jesus hated his life in this world and yearned to return to the Father in heaven, he sacrificed nothing by allowing himself to be killed. Instead, he gained back his glorious heavenly life.
But there are additional benefits for us. Jesus’ death and resurrection provides conclusive proof that our fear of death is baseless. This delivers us from the bondage of Satan and from the need to sin habitually in order to save our lives. Thereby, Jesus ransoms us from the power of the grave and redeems us from death (Hosea 13:14). Even the desire to live to a ripe old age and then go to heaven when we die becomes sinful. If we really love God as passionately as we should, we would want to go to be with him in heaven today and not tomorrow.
Jesus’ ransomed life reveals the pathway to divine salvation: “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:25).