Q&A: Jesus' Death, Voluntary or Murder?

Jesus' Death, Voluntary or Murder?

Question

Was Jesus’ death voluntary or murder? If voluntary isn’t that suicide? Suicide is sin!

Answer

Both are true. Jesus both gave up his life voluntarily and he was murdered.

Jesus said, “I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:15; cf. John 10:11). Jesus laid down his life voluntarily, and he chose to do this. John 10:17-18 says, “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” Jesus could have avoided his death if he had chosen to (i.e. Matt. 26:53).

So, Jesus chose to die, but he was also murdered (cf. 1 Thess. 2:14-15). Certain people plotted against Jesus (Matt. 26:3-4; cf. Psa. 2:2; Matt. 12:14; Mark 14:1; John 11:53). Acts 2:23 states, “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.” Jesus’ life was taken by the sinful evil hands of others. Even though he willingly took the place of others who deserved what he suffered, it doesn’t make the acts against him any less of a murder.

Importantly, Jesus didn’t commit suicide. Suicide is the purposeful taking of one’s life by one’s own hand or by having it done by that of another. A person who does this has chosen to die and not live another day in this world ever again. Suicide is self-murder, a sinful selfish act towards one’s self, others, and God himself. Jesus, however, wasn’t attempting to escape this world. His death was martyrdom, not escapism. He laid down his life with the expressly designed purpose of taking it back three days later. He chose resurrection as part of his life, which means he had to first lay down his life to be resurrected. And with his unselfish and loving willingness to die on the cross for the sake of others, he redeemed his people in this world.

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).