Did Jesus Have to Die?

On Monday evening, one of the young people asked, “Would it have been better if Jesus didn’t die? Like, if I went into a time machine, went back in time and prevented him from being killed, would that have been better?”

What a wonderful question! I responded by explaining that Jesus came to save us, not to be saved and that, by dying, he showed us the greatest love that anyone can have – selfless love even to the point of giving up one’s life. Likewise, Jesus’ death allowed God to show his power over death, through the Resurrection. There is no avoiding pain, suffering, and death. But now we know that God can overcome all – even death.

How interesting, though, to see the compassion that underlies this question. The young man who asked it is not unlike Peter who couldn’t stomach the thought of Jesus undergoing any form of suffering. Peter, like my student and like most of us, did not understand that the only way to save one’s life is to lose it. (Matthew 16:22-25)

And this question came from one of the students who has given me the hardest time all year!  You never know.

About Joe Paprocki 2742 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.

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