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What if Jesus Died of a Heart Attack?

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Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” Luke 23:39‭-‬43 NKJV

Let's take a look at these three crucifiction crosses. The one on the left criminal number 1 hung, on the right is number 2 and in the middle was what we might call today a political prisoner, not found guilty of any offence or crime but executed for political expediency, He had upset the ruling establishment, irritated the top brass, He had to go.

The criminals weren't murderers, they were thieves. It's not known if they were violent thieves or sneaky burglars, it doesn't matter, thievery was a capital offence in Roman times. One could possibly have pleaded guilty, the other is likely to have exercised his right to remain silent, but both were found guilty and sentenced to death, death by crucifixion.

By way of a few thousand to one chance, the two thieves found themselves hanging on either side of the Lord Jesus. Compare and contrast their two reactions to sharing a public execution with Jesus, this man who claimed to be king of the Jews and Son of God. Both seemed to be aware of Jesus, His earlier notoriety, miracles, claims and teachings but two very different responses. One tried to comfort his partner in crime with a crack at humour at the expense of the guy in the middle, I think he fancied himself as a bit of a Butch Cassidy (and the Sun Dance Kid). His luck had run out and so out of either ignorance of the gravity of his fate or sheer stupidity, he tries in vain to laugh at death but death wasn't laughing, it was about to just swallow him up.

A very different response from his colleague. Unlikely as it sounds, somehow in the weeks and months leading up to this crossing of paths, Jesus had gotten to him. He had convicted him of his sin and persuaded him that He is the Son of God but he'd put it to the back of his mind until it was almost too late. But take a moment and try and get inside this guy's head. He'd either heard or heard of Jesus, His lectures, miracles and His radiant righteousness and realised that this was truly the Son of God. Then they meet, all three hanging on crosses. Surely his comedic compatriot had a point, this was evidence if you needed it that this guy was not the Son of God, the Son of God does hang on a cross! And yet even faced with that evidence this thief was unpersuaded that this man Jesus was anything but the Son of God, he knew that Jesus was about to go to His kingdom, so at this eleventh hour and fifty ninth second he makes an impassioned plea. Note that he didn't have the affrontary to ask, can I come with you? No, the most he dared ask was: 'Remember me'.

The question I want to ask is, so why did Jesus have to go through such an excruciatingly painful death to pay the price of the consequences of our inherently sinful nature that was preventing us from meeting God? Wouldn't it have been sufficient for Jesus to die of a heart attack or pass away in His sleep and then three days later, rise from the dead?

There are two answers to this question. The first is no, it would not have been sufficient. Our sin requires sacrifice as described in the Old Testament -

If he brings a lamb as his sin offering, he shall bring a female without blemish. Then he shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering, and kill it as a sin offering at the place where they kill the burnt offering. Leviticus 4:32‭-‬33 NKJV

The means of death was a slice through the animal's throat and so draining its blood. The blood was an integral part of the ceremony. This was not a new concept, it had been happening hundreds of years earlier, in particular during a dress rehearsal where Abraham was asked to offer his son as a sacrifice, but fortunately the last scene was cut and rewritten-

Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. Genesis 22:13 NKJV.

John the Baptist with great perception declared Jesus as God's lamb to take away the sin of the world. John 1:29.

The writer of the book of Hebrews in the New Testament puts it like this -

And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission. Hebrews 9:22 NKJV

That's the first answer to this question. The second answer to the question is also no. Had He died of a heart attack Jesus would never have met that thief on the cross, he would simply have followed his thick headed mate into the dark abyss of eternal damnation and hell, to be reserved for judgment. No Jesus died that death for him, He died to rescue that thief on the cross, and in the same way He died not so much for mankind, but for you and for me. That's how much He loves each one of us.


Dear Lord God, we cannot begin to comprehend the horror that awaited us or appreciate the sacrifice of your Son or imagine the delights that we will experience when we finally meet with you in Heaven to spend forever adoring, praising and worshiping you, but at what cost? I know God that you say to me: 'Forget it, it was worth it.' That is how much you love me and everyone in Talkjesus and beyond. I love you God, you are truly truly amazing.

I would also add that Jesus came in order to fulfill God's will; therefore, as God also allowed, Jesus would be able to stay alive in order to complete the work needed. Because God was together with him, he's able to live and carry out the work, and because Jesus was prophesied as the one to carry out all the work promised from the Old Testament.
Jesus was God incarnate -- Jesus Christ willingly gave His life on that cross - in our place. And the crucifixion was the worst possible death of those days. Jesus Christ did know exactly what He was going to endure -- and He did so out of His love for us and His sacrificial death was necessary. As was His bodily resurrection.

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