The Cross — Why did Jesus die?

Posted on January 30, 2019 
Filed under Theology

“Why did Jesus die?

This series is entirely given over to exploring answers to that question. It’s an odd question to ask in some ways. What sort of question are we asking?

It could, of course, be a medical question. History tells us Jesus died by crucifixion, but a coronial inquest might want to go into exactly how crucifixion brings about someone’s demise. Was exposure, or asphyxiation, or heart failure the actual cause of Jesus death? Jesus did after all die with unusual speed. A death by crucifixion often took days; for Jesus it was a mere six hours. There’s something here worth exploring.

Historians, on the other hand, are interested in the historical causes of Jesus death.

A historian might ask whether the claim that Jesus died by crucifixion is historically plausible. The French atheist Michel Onfray claimed several years ago that the Romans didn’t crucify Jews at this period in history, and therefore the claim that Jesus died by crucifixion was historically suspect. Onfray’s claim is a little perplexing, given the preponderance of evidence for first century Roman executions of Jews. Still, it is a claim that could be asked and answered in good faith by historical method.

Historians might also be interested in the political question. On which charges, and under who’s authority, and through the action which historical actors, was Jesus crucified?

These are all questions to which we may return. Christian theology is not easily partitioned off from history, politics, or even biology. But the primary purpose of this series is to address a different question, the theological question. What was God doing in the death of Jesus? …”

– Rory Shiner begins a six-part series at The Gospel Coalition Australia.