Jesus’ Death and Death

A thought on Jesus’ death:

Holbein Dead Christ, detail

Jesus’ death, moreover, is not a fateful fatality like the image of the automobile accident. It does not serve to show how humans, in spite of all their passion for life, can be wiped out in a moment’s notice. By his death Jesus does not represent the enormity of the power of death. On the contrary, he chooses to die. He lays down his life freely and deliberately, and he does so in accord with God’s own will. Jesus’ death is just the opposite of an unexpected, unforseen auto accident. For the New Testament there is absolutely nothing accidental at all about Jesus’ death. It belongs to his conscious purpose; it is grounded in God’s loving will. Far from proclaiming the mutilating power of death (as does a nuclear bomb), Jesus’ death takes death out of the demonic and makes it an event informed by the free decision of this man and by the graciousness of this God.

— Arthur McGill, “Death and Life,” 46

Death is not in control, God is! Death is a relational concept, it is a cutting off from life (who alone is God). In other words, death, in the Bible has never been framed as non-existence; it’s always been understood in terms that are relative to life. So that to be dead is to be cut off from life itself. Death is to be in a state that asserts itself in a way that only God can; which is to say that life is always a “received” reality (for example the Son receives His life from the Father, the Father from the Son and the Father and Son from the Holy Spirit). To die, then, is to be “cut off” from this receiving (relationally) — to remain in this state is hell!

Just some random thoughts on death, and what Jesus’ death is all about. I think McGill does a great job with this.



  1. “In other words, death, in the Bible has never been framed as non-existence; it’s always been understood in terms that are relative to life.” To quote from Greg Brady after listening to his father, ‘I never thought of it like that!’ I think I’ve usually thought of death as cessation from living, non-existence. This will give me a lot to cogitate on – thanks, Bobby. Hope you’re doing well. Eric


  2. The Father receives His life from the Son? In what sense?


  3. Hi Eric,

    Great to hear from you, brother! Thanks. Yes, praise the Lord I am doing well, the cancer is still gone, and my single kidney is performing as it should! 🙂 Hope you are doing well too.


    In the same sense that the Son receives His life from the Father. If there was no Son there would be no Father, if there was no Father there would be no Son, and if there was no bond of the Holy Spirit there love for the other would be broken.

    This is simply Athanasius’ kind of thinking on the Father/Son … and I think biblical, and rather simple.