One of the fundamental beliefs of Christianity relates that Jesus died and allowed for the shedding of his blood for the sake of granting forgiveness to people. In other words Jesus died on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins. Let us investigate this topic from the Bible, and find out whether Jesus was sent to be crucified and whether he was crucified at all.
Willingness of Jesus Christ to die for our sins
Peter and the two sons of Zebedee were with Jesus Christ before the elders of the people and the chief priests came to take him to be crucified. Jesus at this point talked to Peter and the two sons of Zebedee as in Matthew 26:38 "Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me." Then Jesus went a little further away from them and prayed to God as in Matthew 26:39 "And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt."
It is very clear from the above verse in Matthew 26:39 that Jesus had no intention of dying. In this verse it is shown that Jesus was praying strongly (Matthew mentions Jesus repeating this prayer three times) to have this death removed from him. Had Jesus Christ been sent to be crucified, he would not have hesitated to be killed at all.
When I raise this point in front of my Christian brothers, they tell me that this hesitation came from the flesh side of him (in other words he was tempted), and that his soul which is godly did not have this hesitation at all. When we look at Matthew 26:38 we see that Jesus was contradicting this idea by saying, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death." (Matthew 26:38). He himself said that itís really his soul that was hesitating and not his body. These were Jesusí own words.
God answered the prayers of Jesus Christ
After Jesus made the above mentioned prayer he was answered by God according to Hebrews 5:7 "Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared." These words clearly show when Jesus was praying strongly to God, God granted him his request. The words "heard in that he feared" (Hebrews 5:7) mean that God granted him what he requested. So the above verse shows when Jesus asked of God to "let this cup pass from" (Matthew 26:39) him, God responded to his prayer and saved him from death or crucifixion.
The post crucifixion prophesied events never happened
When people were asking Jesus Christ if he was going to show them a sign, he replied by saying that the only sign they should expect is the sign of Jonas. Jesus also made sure to specify what exactly this sign was. The details are shown in the following verses:
Matthew 12:38 Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.
Matthew 12:39 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:
Matthew 12:40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whaleís belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Jesus here emphasized what will happen to him by specifically saying that he will be like Jonas in terms of the number of days and nights he will be in the heart of the earth, "For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whaleís belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." (Matthew 12:40). Now let us see if this prophecy came to pass.
Jesus was crucified on Friday, this is certainly known among all Christians, and itís the reason for calling that Friday by "Good Friday." Jesus was buried on Friday night. Now let us start counting:
Mark 16:1 And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.
Mark 16:2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.
Mark 16:3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?
Mark 16:4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.
Mark 16:5 And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted.
Mark 16:6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.
The number of days and nights Jesus spent in the heart of the earth is 1 day and 2 nights. This challenges what Jesus had prophesied.
When I tell this to my Christian brothers, some of them responded by saying that what Jesus wanted to really say was that he will be gone for a while, and not that he will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. This is clearly not the case. Had Jesus meant that, he would have said it, but it is clear that he wanted people to know this was a sign (miracle) and it will be like Jonasí sign, and he will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. These were his own words.
Another argument is that the Jews used a different system for the day and night which makes the prophecy come true. The idea says that Jews used to consider a day shorter than we consider it now. If you would ask a Jewish person about their calendar you would find that this is not the case, and a day does not become shorter at all. The difference between a Jewish day and a regular day is the time when the day starts and ends. Jewish people considered the day over when the sun went down, whereas now we consider midnight to be the end of a day. There is no difference in the length of the day, and accepting the Jewish day would only make things worse as far as the prophecy goes.
Why would Jesus have to die on the cross?
According to the Christian doctrine, Jesus died on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins. Every human is born with sins, or all humans will eventually sin, and therefore it was necessary that someone as pure as Jesus would be crucified to nullify these sins. The question is; why does anyone have to die for our sins when God, the all merciful, could as easily grant us forgiveness if we asked for it? Why does He have to make someone suffer for our sins or for someone elseís sins? Isnít that unjust of Him? According to the Bible the way to redemption could be obtained without the need for sacrifice. The Bible 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.
Ezekiel 18:21 But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.
Clearly the soul that sins shall die. Clearly, no one shall bear the iniquity (sins) of others. So Jesus cannot bear the sins of others either. If one is righteous then it shall be upon him, and if one commits a sin then it shall be upon him, and not on Jesus. Finally, the way to repentance and forgiveness is by turning from all sins, doing what is right, and keeping the commandments.
Also we see the same message given by Solomon. He says in the book of Ecclesiastes 12:13 "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man." This is the whole message, and this is the conclusion of messages. It is that one should fear God, keep His commandments, and nothing else.
Again in II Chronicles 7:14 "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." This clearly states that to seek forgiveness from God we have to humble ourselves, pray, seek God, and turn away from wickedness.
Finally the Bible says in I Samuel 15:22 "And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams." This clearly states that obeying God is better than sacrifice whether this sacrifice is of objects, animals, or humans, or any other type. What God likes is for us to heed and obey Him, and if that is what God likes then it is not of Him to come later and change His mind and His ways. God says in the Holy Quran, "Verily God is All-Knowing, All-Wise" (Ch 9: Vr 28).
Now that we have seen this, Christians say that Jesus has changed some of these laws. Did Jesus come to change laws? Letís look at what Jesus says. In Matthew 5:17 "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil." Jesus clearly states that he was not sent to abolish the law, the law of which had already existed. What is mentioned above cannot be discounted. Then Jesus continues to say, in Matthew 5:18 and 19 "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." Jesus here asserts that not even as much as a tittle (dot) shall pass from the law. Every thing is kept the way it was. This is why the previous laws cannot be removed or discarded, and those who willfully change these laws "he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven."