Was Jesus’ death a pointless sacrifice?
Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ ,
Other than the Trinity, the concept of salvation is integral to the Christian faith. Christians believe that Jesus had to die for eternal redemption. Jesus allegedly sacrificed himself and died on the cross to absolve the sins of the people and allow them to reconcile with God. This article focuses on refuting this notion through the following points:
- Jesus wasn’t the perfect sacrificial lamb nor did he want to die for peoples’ sins.
- Jesus doesn’t have the power to forgive all sins.
- Blood doesn’t have to be shed for salvation; there are other ways for repentance.
- Each is to die for his own sins.
We will also shed light upon the true concept of salvation and repentance as presented to us in Islam.
Part 1: Salvation in Christianity:
1. Jesus wasn’t the perfect sacrificial lamb nor did he want to die for the people’s sins (**):
According to Christians, Jesus is the perfect sacrificial lamb because he was sinless and pure, but is he?
Baptism is for the repentance of sin:
Luke 3: 3– Then John went from place to place on both sides of the Jordan River, preaching that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven.
Jesus was baptized:
Luke 3:21– Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened.
So, why would Jesus be baptized if he was sinless when we know that the purpose of baptism is for repentance and forgiveness?
Jesus wasn’t even pure in the biblical sense:
Job 25:4– How then can man be in the right before God? How can he who is born of woman be pure?
Jesus was a man born of a woman:
Galatians 4:4– But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law.
Furthermore, the Bible teaches us not to put our trust in man for he does not provide us with salvation:
Psalms 108:12– Oh grant us help against the foe, for vain is the salvation of man!
According to Gill’s Exposition of the entire Bible:
“…it is a vain thing to expect help and salvation from men, for indeed there is none in them; only in the Lord God is the salvation of his people, both temporal and spiritual.”
Acts 2:22 tells us that Jesus was a man:
“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God…”
However, in accordance to Psalms 108:12, by being a man Jesus is not qualified as a savior let alone as the ultimate savior for all of humanity! For those who try to resolve this by saying that Jesus was not just any man, he was a “God-man” (fully man and fully God at the same time), we say:
If you want to say that Jesus was fully man fully God, it means that he still has a human nature. A human nature that was just as ordinary as anyone else’s; it got tempted (Mt.4:1-10), it grew in knowledge (Luke 2:52), it got circumcised (Luke 2:21)… With that being said, the human/man part of God was impure and incompetent to be a savior in light of Job 25:4 and Psalms 108:12 . So, can Jesus be capable and not capable of saving at the same time?!
So far, we’ve seen how Jesus was not the perfect sacrifice nor did he have the criteria to be. Moreover, Jesus did not want to die for peoples’ sins:
Mark 14:36 – “Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
To clarify the ingredients of the cup of suffering are: “the present season and time of distress, and horror; all his (Jesus’) future sufferings and death, which were at hand; together with the bearing the sins of his people, the enduring the curse of the law, and the wrath of God…” (Gill’s Exposition of the entire bible).
Thus, Jesus (God) did not want to die for his people . Ironically, Jesus had a different will than God’s. Notice how supposedly the same person has two different wills… One God with two different wills?
2 – Jesus does not have the power to forgive all sins:
There is one sin that Jesus’ presumed sacrifice cannot forgive; it is the sin against the Holy Spirit:
Luke 12:10– “And whoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but to him that blasphemes against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven.”
Mark 3:29– “but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”
These verses show us two things:
a- The blood of Jesus cannot forgive all sins:
Gill’s Exposition of the entire bible explains Mark 3:39 as: “But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost, Against his person, and the works performed by him, by ascribing them to diabolical power and influence, as the Scribes did, hath never forgiveness: there is no pardon provided in the covenant of grace, nor obtained by the blood of Christ for such persons, or ever applied to them by the Spirit; but is in danger of eternal damnation” So, the “ultimate sacrifice” is not that ultimate and is weak against a sin against the Holy Ghost.
b- The three components of the trinity are not equal in status: A sin against the Holy Spirit can never be forgiven but a sin against Jesus can? The Holy Spirit has a greater position than another part of the God head? So, the Holy Spirit is greater than Jesus and the Father is greater than Jesus (John 14:28)! It seems like a challenge to the trinity emerges.
3- Blood doesn’t have to be shed for salvation; there are other ways for repentance:
Not only is Jesus’ sacrifice not ultimate, it is not required. There are other methods for redemption that require no blood to be shed or no sacrifice at all. In fact, all that is needed is repentance and asking God for forgiveness.These verses will further elucidate our point:
Matthew 4:17– From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”
2 Chronicles 7:14-“ if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
Isaiah 30:15– “This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.”
Psalms 50:13-14 – “Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High”
Psalms 40:6– “You take no delight in sacrifices or offerings. Now that you have made me listen, I finally understand–you don’t require burnt offerings or sin offerings.”
Matthew 9:13– Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’
If a sacrifice has to be made, blood does not have to be shed, a food offering will suffice:
Leviticus 5:12– “And he shall bring it to the priest, and the priest shall take a handful of it as its memorial portion and burn this on the altar, on the LORD’s food offerings; it is a sin offering”
We would also like to ask the following: What happened to the people who lived before Jesus’ sacrifice? What did they do for repentance? Obviously, there was a system in place that required no blood (This is apparent in the verses provided from the Old Testament).
4- Each is to die for his own sins:
From a logical perspective, where is the justice in an innocent man having to die for other peoples’ sins? Will you accept Mother Theresa dying for Adolf Hitler?! How can you accept Jesus dying for the murderers, rapists, thieves, pedophiles…?! Justice would be when everyone is held responsible for his or her actions. This means that each is to “die” or be punished for the sins they committed. Surprisingly, this ideology does exist in the bible:
Deuteronomy 24:16– “Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. Each one shall be put to death for his own sin.”
Jeremiah 31:30– “But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.”
Ezekiel 18:20– “The person who sins is the one who will die. The child will not be punished for the parent’s sins, and the parent will not be punished for the child’s sins. Righteous people will be rewarded for their own righteous behavior, and wicked people will be punished for their own wickedness.”
Conclusion of Part 1:
To end this initial part of the article, we must conclude that the whole idea of Jesus having to die for our sins and atonement is not only illogical and unjust but is also challenged by the Bible itself. I’d like to finish up with these verses:
Proverbs 16:6– “Unfailing love and faithfulness make atonement for sin. By fearing the Lord, people avoid evil.”
Isaiah 43:25– “I? yes, I alone? will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.”
(Gill’s Exposition of the Bible: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; That is humbled under a sense of sin; has true repentance for it; grieving for sin as committed against a God of love; broken and melted down under a sense of it, in a view of pardoning grace; and mourning for it, while beholding a pierced and wounded Savior: the sacrifices of such a broken heart and contrite spirit are the sacrifices God desires, approves, accepts of, and delights in;”)
(**) This part does not reflect what Muslims think of Jesus (pbuh). This is based on a biblical interpretation.
Part 2: A Brief Overview of Salvation and atonement in Islam:
Muslims do not believe in the original sin or that anyone can die to abolish the sins of another. Each person bears the consequence of his own actions.
“Who receiveth guidance, receiveth it for his own benefit: who goeth astray doth so to his own loss: No bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another…” (Surah Al-Isra’, verse 15)
“And no bearer of burdens shall bear another’s burden, and if one heavily laden calls another to (bear) his load, nothing of it will be lifted even though he be near of kin.” (Surah Fatir, verse 18)
“Whosoever does righteous good deed it is for (the benefit of) his ownself, and whosoever does evil, it is against his ownself, and your Lord is not at all unjust to (His) servants.” (Surah Fussilat, verse 46)
No sacrifices are to be made to seek God’s forgiveness and get closer to Him:
“It is not their meat nor blood that reaches Allah: it is your piety that reaches Him.”(Surah Al-Hajj, verse 37)
“Say: “O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Turn ye to our Lord (in repentance) and bow to His (will), before the Penalty comes on you: after that ye shall not be helped” (Surah Al-Zumar, verse 53)
“Verily! Allah Accepts the repentance of those who do evil in ignorance and repent soon afterwards, to them Allah will turn in Mercy, for Allah is Full of Knowledge and Wisdom. And of no effect is the repentance of those who continue to do evil, until death faces one of them and he says “now have I repented indeed”, nor of those who die rejecting faith: for them have we prepared a chastisement most grievous.” (Surah Al-Nisa’, verse 17)
Not only is forgiveness granted in repentance but a reward as well:
“Unless he repents, believes, and works righteous deeds, for Allah will change the evil of such persons into good, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful” (Al Furqân, verse 70)
We conclude with this Hadith which shows us the love Allah has for his servants:
Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, said: I live in the thought of My servant and I am with him as he remembers Me. (The Holy Prophet) further said: By Allah, Allah is more pleased wth the repentance of His servant than what one of you would do on finding the lost camel in the waterless desert. When he draws near Me by the span of his hand. I draw near him by the length of a cubit and when he draws near Me by the length of a cubit. I draw near him by the length of a fathom and when he draws near Me walking I draw close to him hurriedly. (Sahih Muslim, Book 037, Number 6610)
And Allah knows best…