Is It Even Possible For One To Suffer For The Sins of Mankind?

Continued from Part 22

Did Jesus suffer vicariously for the sins of mankind?

Jesus is often portrayed as suffering vicariously for the sins of mankind.  No support for such a doctrine is to be found in verse 10.  The verse does not say that the servant offered himself on behalf of others.  Absolutely nothing is said about offering oneself for other people’s sins.  

The verse says, “If he would offer himself as a guilt-offering,” that is, a figurative expression concerning the servant’s willingness to devote himself wholeheartedly to the purposes of God in order that “the purposes of the Lord will prosper by his hand.”  Does this use of the conditional mean that if Jesus is the servant he had a choice?  God’s promises of reward to the servant are conditional:  “If he would … he shall see.…”  But, the Jesus of the New Testament did not have this option of free will.

If Jesus was part of the Godhead incarnate or a supernatural being sent by God there was no risk of absolute failure and defeat.  But, he also did not have a free will choice to abandon his mandate from God.  If he was the all-knowing god-man Christian mythology claims him to be when it comes to his alleged mission there could be no question as to whether or not he would fulfill his destiny (cf. Philippians 2:6-8).  Risk is something for mere mortals, possessed of free will who despite God’s foreknowledge of what choice will be made, are left with the final decision. There should be no need for God to promise a reward on condition that Jesus fulfills His wishes (“If he would”).  If Jesus is all that Christianity claims he is, then God knew that this incarnate sinless supernatural being would fulfill all that was required of him right on schedule.  If Jesus is part of God then he is ontologically incapable of sin.  There was no reason to reward one who is said to be perfection incarnate and an equal part of the triune deity with having children and prolongation of days.  It certainly makes no sense to think God would promise to reward such a heaven bound eternal being with having children and prolongation of days.  Such things are promised to humans not to one who is supposedly eternal.  The very use of the conditional shows that verse 10 could not be referring to Jesus.

 Self-sacrifice for others or self-promotion to more honors and power?

According to the New Testament, Jesus had specific knowledge of his mission on earth and his destiny in heaven. For example:  John’s Jesus said:  “I … came down from heaven” (John 6:51) and “I know where I came from, and where I am going” (John 8:14). Matthew’s Jesus told his disciples that “he must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests, and be killed, and be raised on the third day” (Matthew 16:21).  It is even maintained that the Pharisees knew of his prediction that “After three days I am to rise again” (Matthew 27:63).

What he supposedly left temporarily in heaven and his alleged additional rewards on his heavenly return are found in Philippians 2:6-11:  Before, “He existed in the form of God”; after, “God highly exalted him,” “bestowed on him the name which is above every name,” “every knee should bow [to Jesus] in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth,” and “every tongue should confess that Jesus is Lord.”  Isn’t it strange to say that God rewarded part of Himself for doing what he commanded Himself to do?  For this increased heavenly reward, it is said, Jesus knowingly gave up a transitory earthly existence devoid of luxury.  Where was the sacrifice if he knew exactly what his heavenly rewards would be?

© Gerald Sigal