Dear Pastor,


The Bible says that Jesus laid down his own life. Isn't that like suicide?


A: I understand why you would think that way. The subject of Christ's voluntary demise is not discussed enough, in my view. We professional churchgoers like to focus on the glorious morning of Christ's resurrection and well we should! Yet, we must also take-in how he got there. Your question takes a hard look at what Jesus actually said as he faced what we now call "Good Friday," his crucifixion day.


The scriptures are puzzling until we attempt to see through Christ's lens. "For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father" (John 10:17, 18, NASB). Jesus plainly talks about volunteering for his own death. He even explains that Father God commanded him to use his God-given authority to do it. Later on in the Gospel of John, we read: "Greater love has no one than this; that one lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). Is he talking about suicide? How is killing yourself an act of love? Do suicide-bombers and kamikaze pilots have the same thought process? Not at all.


Christ's voluntary death and resurrection is in no way like a suicide. Suicide is always a selfish act; the overwhelming desire to escape one's circumstances and pain and leave this world. Suicide is about a person's internal, self-focused decision to live or not. It is a sin that falls under the definition of "murder." That said, Jesus' willingness to receive a horrible death; be humiliated, tortured and eventually destroyed was a selfless act with everyone else in mind. It wasn't about him at all ... it was about us. Jesus volunteered to take our bullet, so to speak, so we could live on. And not only would we live, but we would be able to thrive here on earth and then cross over to immortality one day. "I came that they would have life," said Jesus, "and have it abundantly" (John 10:10). What Jesus did was life-giving, not life-taking, if that makes any sense.


The Disciples who heard these strange statements from Jesus, including the religious scoffers within earshot, must have been in a quandary of mixed emotions, ideas and religious applications. It goes against natural laws to sacrifice one life for another. Love nurtures life, it doesn't kill it, right? Jesus tried to explain it through parables and metaphors; in private conversations and teachings. Prophets of old brought forth pieces of the puzzle as well. In the end, all Jesus could do was to proclaim what had been planned out from the beginning of time. A premeditated death; a willing victim; a resurrection and rescue for every person.


These were Jewish men who heard Christ's sacred statements first-hand. Some of the more educated ones may have remembered the writings of Isaiah chapter 53 as the words echoed in their thoughts and pricked their hearts. If they could have connected the dots they would've seen it: Christ single-handedly fulfilled the laws of Moses regarding sacrificial animals by becoming the required, burnt-offering himself; the pure, slain Lamb. In addition, as the myriad of prophecies about blood covenants and atonement came due, Christ would volunteer for the blood-letting and death. Further, in order to revoke the devil's handiwork of death, disease and destruction, Jesus remained lifeless for a period of time - long enough to silence any speculation that he somehow survived the cross. Finally, Jesus brought himself back to life, obliterated the devil's power and banished mortality forever.


Christ's words and actions were specific, intentional statements that proclaimed he was the prophesied Messiah, Son of God, Savior of the world. No, Easter is not about a suicide. It is the true story of unflinching, unconditional, selfless love.


Do you have a question or comment for Pastor Adrienne? Send your inquiries to: info@adriennewgreene.com or write to P.O. Box 214, Harrison, OH 45030. For more information on Pastor Adrienne, or to purchase her book, "Ask Pastor Adrienne: 100 Best-loved Columns," please visit www.adriennewgreene.com.