“When I grow Up I want to Die”


The headline sounds quite dreary and morbid, macabre if you like. And yet it captures the very object that Jesus came to pursue in His earthly mission. When you consider the plot through the lenses of Matthew the story is laden reverting twists and turns.

So if Jesus came down to die, why did God protect Him  from the sword of Herod by instructing His parents to go and seek refuge in Egypt. I must confess that at some point I read the book of Matthew begrudgingly because I could not help but envision a God who preserved the life of His only begotten son by hiding him in Egypt and yet expose all the other innocent infants to the indiscriminate genocidal feat of king Herod. But stick a little further with the story.

The King is Born

The story is based on Matthew Chapter 2. Jesus is born in Bethlehem of Judea (verse 4) and wise men from the east arrive in Jerusalem in pursuit of the new born king.

2 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.

In verse 8 we learn that Herod requested the wise men to come back and give him a report on the birth of Jesus on their way back. In verse 11 they meet the new born Jesus and offer their gifts. Verse 12, they are warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod and thus they go back to their own country their own way.

13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. 14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: Verse 16: Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.

17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, 18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

Jesus spared from Death?

The twists of the plot in the preceding verses were the context of my trauma. Why did God spare only His son and not intervene to protect the all the innocent babies, the peers of Jesus who were to be butchered by Herod.

The question kept ringing in my sub conscience  until it dawned to me that baby Jesus was not being spared from death at all. In fact He was being preserved for a “bigger” and more horrendous death.  If Jesus were to be asked as to what He wanted to be when He grew up, I imagine Jesus would not say “When I grow up I want to be a lawyer”, “When I grow up, I want to be physician, or a tax collector or a earthly king” as it were. But I imagine Him answer this way: “When I grow Up I want to Die”

It gradually dawned to me that baby Jesus was only spared from this premature end to His earthly mission so that He could die a more significant, ignominious and disgraceful death that would suffice even for the ultimate redemption of all humanity including His peers butchered by King Herod.  There is no doubt Jesus had to die to save humanity from ultimate death for the Wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), but a  major question remains: Why particularly the death on the cross:  If he had been killed together with the other innocent babies wouldn’t that have sufficed as death?

The Significance of the Cross

When we refer to the Deuteronomy we learn something about the significance of hanging on a pole or a tree: Deuteronomy 21:23. “..You must not leave the body hanging on the pole overnight. Be sure to bury it that same day, because anyone who is hung on a pole is under God’s curse.”

Also consider 2 Corinthians 5:21, For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Christ  was not only made human to suffer in our stead, He was made sin.

Therefore under the God’s  plan of salvation, it was necessary for our Saviour to become accursed under the Law in order to take away the curse of the Law (eternal death) for sinners.

Refer to Galatians 3:10-14. Verse 13 makes it crystal clear: Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” (Galatians: 3:13)

Our failure as human beings to keep the law meant that we  all are accursed under the law, Christ had to take our place and become accursed himself to give us full and substantive representation as a ransom. While in Matthew Chapter 2 we see a God who seems to favour His only begotten son by protecting Him from death;  in Matthew 27 (45-46) we see a God so loving that He lets his only begotten son die not the ordinary death as His peers died in Matthew Chapter 2, but the second death that guarantees the redemption and resurrection of all those who die in faith. The price paid on the cross is thus sufficient for all humanity to be saved including the innocent babies butchered by King Herod.

Unfortunately the infants in Matthew Chapter 2 died, but fortunately they did not perish, and the same applies to all who have died in faith. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.(John 3:16)

It is striking that as He was hanging on the cross Jesus declared: “It is finished.” Not “I am finished.” (John 19:30) The proclamation was the sure word that confirmed the fact of the irrevocable deliverable of Jesus’ mission, His ultimate death, the guarantee and surety of our salvation.

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A multidisciplinary thinker, speaker, writer, software engineer and ICT entrepreneur. Most important of all, a seeker of God and truth, keenly expectant of the second coming of Christ.

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Published by Gugulethu Nyoni

A multidisciplinary thinker, speaker, writer, software engineer and ICT entrepreneur. Most important of all, a seeker of God and truth, keenly expectant of the second coming of Christ.

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Divine Nxumalo
August 15, 2020 7:21 AM

Amen to the word.Very profound