Could Jesus have chosen not to die on the cross?

At our small groups at Holy Trinity we are working through a stimulating study guide called Finding Christ in the Old Testament [CFP, Inversness, 2002]. One question raised this week by a group was “could Jesus have chosen not to die on the cross?

To answer this, we distinguish:  The choice Jesus faced was a real choice. He possessed the liberty of indifference.  He could choose to be crucified or not to be crucified and his heart would decide the matter.

As a real human person, Jesus, would normally have have chosen the latter, the less painful option, not to be crucified.  He was repulsed by the thought of the pain he would endure on the cross and this must have been a tempting option.

But Jesus chose to be crucified and he did this because his nature constrained his will.  Namely, his deep desire to obey his Father’s will (Mark 14:35-36) and his deep love for sinners under wrath (Mark 10:21), moved him to choose the painful option.

With this understanding of Christ’s nature the question changes from, “could Jesus have chosen not to be crucified?” to “could Jesus have sinned against his Father and could he have selfishly decided to allow others to be damned?” The very real temptation to choose not to be crucified was great but Jesus did not sin against the will of his Father nor did not act selfishly, because his nature constrained him, praise be to God!

About neilrobbie

I am a 6'6" formerly ginger Scot, in a cross cultural marriage to my lovely Londoner wife. We've lived in SE Asia and since 2005, I have served as an Anglican minister in Wolverhampton and West Bromwich.
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3 Responses to Could Jesus have chosen not to die on the cross?

  1. A very intersting question. But your answer confuses the issue of how could Jesus “God” sin against his Father “God”? Even though he was in the form of a man he is believed to still be God. How can he have the choice to sin against himself? Now if Jesus was completely man, which the Bible compares him as the second Adam, he had to have a free will. Is this why Satan had the confidence if not the audacity to try to tempt Jesus into going against God and serving Satan. He asked Jesus to do an act of worship to him to gain the rule over the earth. But Jesus told Satan it is His Father he must worship. So the answer to the above question leaves other questions as to the free will of Jesus. Thank you for listening. Stephen

    • neilrobbie says:

      Hi Stephen, I’m glad that you found the question interesting. An answer to this question requires two lengthy discussions on the doctrine of the trinity and on the freedom or bondage of the will. I can’t go into both of these now. Sorry, I know you’d like me to reply but I am afraid I will have to decline due to time pressure.


  2. Don says:

    Jesus lived in perfect harmony throughout eternity within the Godhead, and on earth He took on the form of a servant and submitted to the will of the Father in all things. This was his well established habit in life. When the big test came, He was able to handle it in the same way He had always handled it: Doing the Father’s will. He was obedient to the point of death. He would not swerve from His Father’s will. What character! No man ever like Him. The bravest man would have failed. Jesus was the bravest man that ever lived. Even though He was God in the flesh, yet He was totally human also.

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