Why couldn’t Jesus die?

Almost two years ago I started a series of lessons of Seven Skills that (hopefully) will assist us in our Bible reading and study. I could not have imagined that we would begin the sixth skill this year. I don’t know what this study has been for the others. I think I am receiving the greatest benefits. The old saying that goes “you can cover any amount of material you want, as long as you are willing to cut out enough” seems to prove true every week.

This sixth skill is on the great subjects of the Bible, or teaching, or doctrines. My intent is to give an overview of one subject each week. That doesn’t always happen. A few weeks ago we were learning how Jesus Christ permeates every part of Scripture.

As I was preparing and reviewing for that lesson about Jesus, I came to His death. The Gospels tell how horribly Jesus was abused prior to His crucifixion. Those accounts are not there merely to stir our emotions. More criminals died from those torturous acts of evil than didn’t. Jesus didn’t die when they beat, whipped, spit, and ridiculed Him. After all that, He was prepared for execution on a torture rack that would extend several days and include additional public humiliation. But crucifixion wouldn’t kill Him either. All of those agonizing scenes remind us that no matter how hard man tried, he couldn’t kill Jesus.

Why couldn’t Jesus die? The verse is so simple and so well known among believers, we sometimes overlook the obvious. “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a). Why did Adam die? Death was the promised consequence for his disobedience. “…of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:15-17).

Jesus couldn’t die because He was sinless. Porter Barrington summarizes, “He ‘committed no sin’ (1 Peter 2:22). He had ‘no sin’ (1 John 3:5). He ‘knew no sin’ (2 Corinthians 5:21). Before He could die, Jesus had to be ‘made sin on our behalf.’”
Those who follow the liturgical church year began Lent recently. Soon, there will be Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Resurrection Sunday. With a better understanding of why Jesus couldn’t die but did after He was made sin for us sinners, I hope this year won’t be just another Easter thingy.