I know that Jesus is really God. But I'm still confused... I don't get how God could die or be killed by people. Isn't God always there? How can God die?
Please explain this to me in an easy to understand way.
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Sacred Tradition would say yes, the recently reworded Nicene creed says,
He suffered death and was buried
We also say it was in:
accordance with the Scriptures
Death is the splitting of the body, but not splitting "The Godhead" from the body. So, no part of Christ ceases to be God upon death.
The Summa has some other pretty good points concerning this question, I'll summarize:
So, it's clear that He did it for a reason, but you're wondering if it is possible. Some say God can "square a circle" other's don't. Naive me says God can make a circle square, but "reply to objection 1" me has learned that God cannot deny himself. He cannot tell a lie and if he says He's going to send us His Son as a Redeemer who will die, then that's what's going to happen.
Furthermore, St. Thomas says:
Christ did not suffer death which comes of sickness, lest He should seem to die of necessity from exhausted nature: but He endured death inflicted from without, to which He willingly surrendered Himself, that His death might be shown to be a voluntary one.
Which leaves you hanging, and this is a central point of the Faith, which to wrap around with what I said about the Nicene Creed, is probably why it gets a mention. If Jesus didn't die, he couldn't have risen and if Christ didn't rise from the dead then:
And if Christ has not been raised, then empty [too] is our preaching; empty, too, your faith.
In Christianity, as in Judaism, death isn't "the end". It does not mean to cease to exist. Perhaps the verse that makes this most clear is 2 Corinthians 5:8 (KJV)
We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord
In death, it is only the physical body that dies. The spirit/soul continues to exist. 1 Peter 3:18-20 even tells us where his spirit went when his body died.
18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
Jesus' physical body died. His spirit went on. When we die, our spirit lives on. Therefore, we say He died, just as we all die.
12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?
13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:
14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.
19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
We experience the same death as Christ, and are promised the same resurrection as Him as well.
God is eternal and inherently immortal. If we dismiss the incarnation in entirety, then we can also dismiss the idea of God being able to die. Therefore, it is because of the incarnation that God could (and did) die.
The apostle Paulos wrote (Phil. 2:5-8),
Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal to God, but rather, he emptied himself and took the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men, and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
He also mentions that the princes of the world "crucified the Lord of glory" (1 Cor. 2:8), a title which seems to be an allusion to Ps. 24 in which YHVH is referred to as "the king of glory" (Ps. 24:8, 24:10).
Psalms 24 was understood by Justin Martyr as referring to the ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven.
In his Dialogue with Trypho, Ch. XXVI, Justin Martyr wrote,
The Psalm of David is this: 'The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and all that dwell therein. He hath rounded it upon the seas, and prepared it upon the floods. Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in His holy place? He that is clean of hands and pure of heart: who has not received his soul in vain, and has not sworn guilefully to his neighbour: he shall receive blessing from the Lord, and mercy from God his Saviour. This is the generation of them that seek the Lord, that seek the face of the God of Jacob. Lift up your gates, ye rulers; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty in battle. Lift up your gates, ye rulers; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory.'
Accordingly, it is shown that Solomon is not the Lord of hosts; but when our Christ rose from the dead and ascended to heaven, the rulers in heaven, under appointment of God, are commanded to open the gates of heaven, that He who is King of glory may enter in, and having ascended, may sit on the right hand of the Father until He make the enemies His footstool, as has been made manifest by another Psalm. For when the rulers of heaven saw Him of uncomely and dishonoured appearance, and inglorious, not recognising Him, they inquired, 'Who is this King of glory?' And the Holy Spirit, either from the person of His Father, or from His own person, answers them, 'The Lord of hosts, He is this King of glory.'
All we know is that God the Son did die, because of the incarnation. We do not separate Jesus Christ into two persons, saying that his humanity died but not his divinity (Nestorianism). The divine person of Jesus died. The divine person of Jesus also resurrected himself. This is possible because the divine person subsists in two natures, humanity and deity.
If one wants to know how such things are possible, like the hypostatic union, there's no way for our minds to comprehend such things. They are beyond our comprehension.
From the beginning, God has declared the payment for sin is death, and so blood must be shed to cover sin:
Leviticus 17:11: “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.”
Hebrews 9:22: “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”
Early in the Old Testament God introduced the idea of one innocent being shedding its blood in place of the sinner’s. After the incident in the garden, he introduced the sacrificial system in the Tabernacle-Temple ceremonies.
“He is to lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him” (Leviticus 1:4).
However the solution of sacrificing bulls and goats and lambs for the sins of each person’s sin was a temporary fix. The next year, another animal would have to be sacrificed for the same person. A more permanent solution was needed.
That meant a human was needed to die for humans’ sin. But all humans are sinful, so another sin-filled person dying for us just wouldn’t work. A human without sin was needed.
But ever since Adam, every human born is sin-filled, so how could a sinless man happen? The only way was if God did it Himself.
Matt. 1:23 “Look! The virgin will conceive and bear a son, and they will call him Emmanuel,” which means “God with us.
God became a man, known as Jesus—whose name, Joshua in Hebrew, means “the LORD saves” (1)—and died for us in our place. Therefore, anyone who accepts the sacrifice of Jesus on his or her behalf is covered by his blood and is saved.
What actually is the death and resurrection of body?
1 Corinth. 15:53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 15:54 Now when this perishable puts on the imperishable, and this mortal puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will happen, “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 15:55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
My answer is a question: What is death?
God created the universe, life, our spiritual existence, matter, time, and everything but himself. As others said, God revealed to the prophets and then through Jesus that he would die, must die, and did die. He required such a death as payment for sin, therefore it was incumbent upon him to arrange things so that the definition of death - what it means, how it occurs, and how it relates to the human form that he took on in the incarnation - was a logical, spiritual and material possibility. Not all possible definitions of life and death are necessarily compatible with such a plan and such a God. As the creator, God has a freedom that we do not.
Death is not the cessation of existence: Revelation 21:8 speaks of the second death, that of the unrighteous.