Imagine that Jesus wasn't murdered but just died of old age. Would there be a difference in redemption for those who believed in Him? If so, why did he need to be killed?

To be clear, I'm specifically asking about the difference between Christ being violently murdered and simply dying of old age. What is important about his violent murder that is different than a peaceful death?

I would like answers based on Catholic teaching and doctrine.

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    Looks like a duplicate. Further, your use of the term "murder" in the title is incorrect: it was an execution ordered by secular authority. It was lawful, in that the law in the land at the time could and did order it: and murder is not a lawful act in any case. Words have meanings. Feb 3, 2016 at 23:21
  • I know this is a theoretical question, but practically, it should come as no surprise that if someone was a threat to public authority, in times like those, in a culture like then and in the way that Jesus was, e may not have ended up executed, but we would expect that e would have been arrested, murdered, publicly antagonised or something right? Well hindsight is 20/20, but is it wrong to think that dying a natural death would be kind of unexpected?
    – BCLC
    Feb 7, 2016 at 5:30
  • catholic thought that christ needed to be killed is probably reminiscent of human sacrifice mentality. The blood of a person offered to appease an angry deity. Feb 24, 2016 at 3:05

1 Answer 1



There are a number of ways to approach this question for example my answer to this question: How is the matter of why the Son of God needed to be sacrificed explained in the Roman Catholic Church? contains some essential points that will be common to all answers from a Catholic standpoint. Some of those points are:

1) God is free.

2) God does whatever he pleases in accordance with his nature.

3) God has infinite solutions to each of what to creatures are problems: “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”.

4) Faced with the "problem" of man's redemption, God could have chosen to act or not to act. Once he chose to act, he had infinite solutions to the "problem".

5) Once he decreed the work of redemption, he also decreed the manner by which the redemption would be wrought.

6) According to Church teaching grounded in scripture and explained by theology, redemption is by blood.

7) There is meaning behind and fittingness of the manner of redemption, in this case redemption by the blood of the God-made-man.


This answer takes from The Theology of the Precious Blood by Edwin Kaiser, C.PP.S. | Catholic Culture. The articles lays out some key points:

1) That God was not obliged to accept any atonement; God could have condoned the sin and demanded no atonement whatever; God might have been satisfied with partial atonement and granted partial condonation. In all of this God was free, nor would either His justice or His mercy have been impaired by His choice. But God decided that man should be shown mercy and be pardoned.

2) The very act of God assuming created nature [not necesarily human], God abasing himself, would have been more than sufficient to redeem because every act of God-made-creature has infinite value.

Therefore according to Catholic teaching and theology, Christ need not have been "violently murdered" and could have "simply died old age", and this could have been more than sufficient for the redemption.

Mary could have brought forth [the] male child, [and] her child [...] caught up [immediately] to God and to his throne without undergoing any pain and suffering and still this would have been more than sufficient for the redemption.

In my other answer I have also stated from Church teaching that since redemption is by blood, a small drop from Jesus as when he was circumcised would have been more than sufficient for the redemption.


There is a paragraph in the article that ends:

We insist on this point because some have misunderstood the whole Catholic doctrine of Redemption as though it were based on a cruel and vindictive concept of divine justice. (my emphasis)

I thought perhaps this is what may have prompted the OP's question. I would encourage the OP to read the entire article but I would also add that whichever was the things of God are looked at, man is always faced with a mystery.

Further Reading

Redemption - Home > Catholic Encyclopedia > R > Redemption.

  • Yous answer is very concentrated on the will of God. Whatever He says and do is good. Ok, but in the debats of nominalism in history and more recent it looks like the catholic church has also a filosofie of believing that something is not good or right because God says it, but because the object or happening is from it self good or bad. What I try to say is isn't there anything in the murdering itself what it makes that it had to be made. I hope I'm clear what I mean, because it can be complicated.
    – Marijn
    Jan 21, 2016 at 20:56
  • @Marijn "isn't there anything in the murdering itself what it makes that it had to be made" There isn't and and I answered with support "Therefore according to Catholic teaching and theology, Christ need not have been "violently murdered" and could have "simply died old age", and this could have been more than sufficient for the redemption."
    – user13992
    Jan 21, 2016 at 20:59
  • I cann't find the article about your second point: "2) The very act of God.......
    – Marijn
    Jan 21, 2016 at 21:29
  • @Marijn 8th paragraph of the article. It starts: The divine decree went beyond both justice and mercy:
    – user13992
    Jan 21, 2016 at 21:31
  • Do you perhaps know who or what the author Edwin Kaiser is? Of course member of C.PP.S. but is he a teacher or bisshop or ...
    – Marijn
    Jan 21, 2016 at 21:56

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