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As I understand it, Jesus was sentenced to die "under Pontius Pilate" and was crucified as punishment. It seems to me that Jesus had no choice but to be crucified. After all, if a criminal is sentenced to death by the State today, they are forced to die and don't have a choice. However, I believe Christianity teaches that Jesus chose to die for our sins. So, I am trying to understand:

What are the current, predominant Christian views regarding whether Jesus had to die under Pontius Pilate specifically?

I'm specifically interested in what the beliefs are with regard to his having to die in this particular way, by the hands of the government of Roman Empire. How could he, as man, avoided the death once the sentence was handed down? Couldn't he have chosen to die another, less painful way, to "die for our sins?"

  • I asked a related question (albeit a specifically Catholic one) a while back – Peter Turner Apr 30 '19 at 20:50
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    I think this qualifies as an overview question so answers will have to be much longer than average and cover more than one or two viewpoints and it shouldn't be just a handful of Bible quotes – Peter Turner Apr 30 '19 at 20:53
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    The title question could be improved. As currently stated it could be interpreted as asking whether Jesus could have avoided being killed at all, regardless of method. – Ray Butterworth May 1 '19 at 1:19
  • See John 19:36. – Lucian Feb 29 at 2:11
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I am mostly familiar with the evangelical perspective, which I think is shared with mainstream Protestant denominations, since they all rely on Bible evidence alone (instead of relying on the writings of the Church Fathers or St. Thomas Aquinas). The Catholic viewpoint may have been answered already (link provided by Peter Turner).

From sermons I heard and books I read about why Jesus had to suffer and die this way, the virtually unanimous reason I keep hearing is to fulfill Old Testament prophecies. (Surprisingly the above Catholic answer didn't touch on OT prophecies at all.) Furthermore, it is very obvious that the Gospel writers themselves refer to those prophecies when writing about the Passion of Jesus, as though they try to find as many of those as possible to give additional proof / authentication that Jesus was really the Messiah promised by God because he died & suffer that way, in addition to non-Passion identifying OT prophecies fulfilled by the life, the saying, and the ministry of Jesus.

The main prophecies about his suffering are in Isa 53, Ps 22, etc.:

  • Isa 53:3 ("like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised")
  • Isa 53:7 (led like a lamb to slaughter, did not open his mouth)
  • Ps 41:9 (betrayal by close friend who shared bread)
  • Zech 11:12 (Judas's 30 pieces of silver)
  • Ps 22:1-2 ("My God, my God, why have you forsaken me...")
  • Ps 22:7-8 ("All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: 'He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him...")
  • Mic 5:1 ("... with a rod they will strike the leader of Israel in the face")
  • Isa 50:6 ("I give my back to those who beat me .... I do not hide from shame, for they mock me and spit in my face")

In addition, the OT verses closest to crucifixion are:

Ps 22:14-16 (NLT): (pierced hands and feet)

My life is poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart is like wax, melting within me. My strength has dried up like sunbaked clay. My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. You have laid me in the dust and left me for dead. My enemies surround me like a pack of dogs; an evil gang closes in on me. They have pierced my hands and feet.

Zec 12:10 (NLT) (pierced)

“Then I will pour out a spirit of grace and prayer on the family of David and on the people of Jerusalem. They will look on me whom they have pierced and mourn for him as for an only son. They will grieve bitterly for him as for a firstborn son who has died.

Ps 22:17-18 (NLT) (stare and gloat, dice for clothing)

I can count all my bones. My enemies stare at me and gloat. They divide my garments among themselves and throw dice for my clothing

Isa 53:12 (NLT) (exposed himself to death, counted among the rebels i.e. the thiefs on either side, interceded for rebels see Luke 23:40-43)

I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among the rebels. He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.

Deut 21:22-23 (NLT) (executed and hung from the tree, cursed, must not remain hanging overnight)

“If someone has committed a crime worthy of death and is executed and hung on a tree, the body must not remain hanging from the tree overnight. You must bury the body that same day, for anyone who is hung is cursed in the sight of God. In this way, you will prevent the defilement of the land the Lord your God is giving you as your special possession.

Ps 34:20 (NLT) (bones not broken)

For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous; not one of them is broken!

Ex 12:46 (NLT) (Passover lamb's bones should not be broken)

Each Passover lamb must be eaten in one house. Do not carry any of its meat outside, and do not break any of its bones.

By looking at those verses it is obvious that the manner of death Jesus had to undergo had to be crucifixion, if it had to be done during the Roman period. If Jesus were to come today, the nation of Israel / Palestine wouldn't execute someone like that anymore.

For an extensive collection of OT verses that cover most of the above as well as other non-suffering related prophecies see a list of matching OT and NT verses here.

This is an even more extensive list covering all possible types of OT references: prophecies, typologies, shadows, allegories, illusions, also from Reformed / evangelical perspective.

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What are the predominant Christian views on whether Jesus could have avoided crucifixion? Could he have chosen another kind of death?

Answer

1.What are the predominant Christian views on whether Jesus could have avoided crucifixion?

The views that you are looking for if anyone holds that Jesus could have avoided crucifixion is contrary to the Gospel of Christ, therefore it should not be considered as a view coming from Christianity but rather a view coming from other faith but definitely not Christian faith. I don't think any Christian Pastors would identified himself to that kind of view as it is more like a view coming from a Pharisee asking Jesus to come down on the Cross.

  1. Could he have chosen another kind of death?

The biblical answer is NO! The Omnipotent God has to design Jesus mysterious death to drain all of his blood up to the last drop because Jesus having a sinless body cannot suffer nor be subject to death.

"For the the life of the flesh is in the blood." (Leviticus17:11)

Jesus cannot chosen another death other than Crucifixion not just to fulfill the Old Testament prophecy on the death of the coming Messiah that was pierced but most importantly Jesus has to drain His blood up to the last drop.

Can anyone think of a kind of physical death that can remove all on man's blood from his body?And the kind of death that was a voluntary on the part of the victim and the right word is "immolation".

Jesus scourging open up his flesh to pour out his blood, and the Carrying of the Cross put a lot of pressure and stress on the wounds for the blood to come out even more and lastly the Crucifixion enables all his veins to drain all the blood in his flesh and Jesus needed three hours hanging on the Cross to drain his most precious blood. Is this enough? No! Jesus wanted to reveal God's Infinite Mercy by allowing the last drop from His Sacred Heart to flows, without this the Divine Mercy will not be revealed.

So, Jesus "crucifixion" is the Wisdom of God how can Jesus humanity can shed all his most precious blood up to the last drop. Dying of another means will not reveal the Divine Mercy of God.

" O' blood and waqter which gushed forth from the heart of Jesus as a fountain of mercy for us. I trust in you. "(St.Faustina)

Church and Christian views

The predominant answer for both Catholic and Christian denominations as Vatican II included them as One People of God was summarized in the book of St.Louis De Montfort "Love for Eternal Wisdom"

This is the most important phrase to ponder;

"Wisdom is the Cross and the Cross is Wisdom." (St.Louis De Montfort)

This is certainly true from the very beginning before the creation time begin. The First Act of God is to create the spirit of Created Wisdom in Proverbs8:22.

As it is written in the gospel;Jesus is the Wisdom of God and we cannot separate Jesus from the Cross. The Cross has no meaning without Christ.

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written; "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent." (1Corinthian 1:18-19)

And St. Paul reminded all the Jews and the Greek even the wise and the scribes:

"For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seeks after wisdom, but we preach Christ Crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greek foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews & Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. (!Corinthians1:22-24)

For all Catholic faithfuls the Church for 2000 years teaches the "Way of the Cross".

And for all Christian denominations, for those who truly follow the Gospel of Christ it is clearly written as the First Step requirement before embracing the path to Christianity as Jesus uttered the conditional words; "Take up your cross and follow me"

"Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself take up his cross and follow me."(Matthew16:24)

All Christians since the start of reformation era embraces this call of Jesus and this is the predominant verse that encompasses all Christian views. And Jesus clearly stated this as the first requirement on all the believers who wants to follow the path of Christianity.

In closing, Jesus in no way can avoid Crucifixion when Adam & Eve fall into sin as the wages of sin is death and God had already begotten the Redeemer in eternity as His Wisdom. But, the teaching of the Church Fathers and especially the well known Subtle Doctor of the Church Blessed Duns Scotus teaching on the primacy of Christ, even if Adam and Eve had not committed sin Jesus will still come not as a Redeemer but as King of this world he created according to narration of Fr.Joseph Ianuzzi.

The theology of John Duns Scotus places Christ at the centre of a universe ordered by love. Christ is presented as the basis of all nature, grace and glory – the most perfect model of humanity. He is at the beginning, the centre and the end of the universe. The Primacy of Christ in John Duns Scotus: An Assessment.

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    Can you clarify your basis for this doctrine of exsanguination (i.e., complete removal of blood)? You quote Lev. 17:11, but in the passage's context, this would mean that OT priests would have to exsanguinate the sacrifices, which they did not do. Your quote of St. Faustina shows Christ bled, but not necessarily complete exsanguination. Finally, you rhetorically ask if any other means of execution can achieve exsanguination, but do not provide biblical or historical source documents that show crucifixion did completely exsanguinate the victim's body. – Tim May 1 '19 at 16:10
  • @Tim Exsuagination is a medical term not a biblical term. When you speak the language of the bible in the OT it pertains to typology of Jesus becoming the Passover Lamb and the Jews only eat a lamb that has no blood. And this reflection will lead to Jesus hard teaching in the Gospel on the Holy Eucharist.The key word is immolation but there's one medical mystery here related to Leviticus17:11. Is the heart of Jesus still alive before piercing? In medical terms it is still alive and can be use in heart-transplant. – jong ricafort May 2 '19 at 5:08

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