When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples.... (Matt. 26:1)Why is this important? Is it important that we know that Jesus knew in advance what his future would bear? This may be important to those who need some kind of sign in order to believe that Jesus had power and authority.
But the deeper meaning of why this is important is that Jesus was in full knowledge of the tremendous suffering that he was about to experience, yet he did nothing to avoid it. He did nothing to escape. He not only knew his physical body was going to be killed, but he knew how his body would be killed - in the most gruesome and painful manner.
Yet Jesus did not try to escape or avoid being captured. Why? Because he understood this was part of his service to God. His focus was to do God's will.
Why was this part of Jesus' service to God? Did God want Jesus to suffer? Certainly not. Jesus understood that he was not the physical body, and the spiritual person does not necessarily suffer when the physical body is experiencing pain.
In Jesus' case, Jesus actually experienced the greatest spiritual pleasure even through the suffering of his body - that of serving his beloved, the Supreme Being. The pain of his body was nothing compared to the joy of pleasing the One he loved.
This doesn't mean that those involved in the murder of Jesus are excused. The torture and subsequent murder of God's loving servant and representative is the height of insanity and demoniac behavior. And those who seek to take advantage of this event for their own purposes are also implicated.
To that end, most ecclesiastical sectarian teachers say that Jesus had to die in order to sacrifice for our sins. Many even refer to him as a "sacrificial lamb." As if it were ordained that someone has to suffer for our sins, and because God loved us, Jesus suffered for us so we do not have to suffer the consequences of our own actions.
This is a ridiculous notion, for if it is true, we would suddenly have no responsibility for our actions. Jesus' crucifixion did not remove the law of consequences from the physical world. If that were true, then a person could commit a crime and not go to jail as long as the person believed in Jesus. But this is simply not the case. There are consequences to every selfish act.
If this were true, then there would be no need to obey any commandments nor any rules or regulations provided by scripture. All we would have to do is believe in Jesus and we can do whatever we want.
If this were true, why did Jesus teach? Why did he teach his disciples and students to obey Moses' commandments, and why did he teach love of God? Why didn't he just say, "don't worry, I will die for your sins so you can do what you want, as long as you believe in me."
No, he did not say that. He was trying to teach his students, and all of us, to dedicate our lives to God. He was trying to teach us to learn to love God, not just sentimentally, but with our actions and lives. He was trying to get us to change our consciousness from being self-centered to being God-centered. He was trying to teach us to devote our lives to God.
And this was what he practiced as well. Jesus did not have a professional rabbi position. He did not hold a title at the temple. He walked through the countrysides, teaching love of God. This was because he was dedicated to God. He devoted his entire life to God. He was showing us how to love God and give our lives to God.
And therein lies the reason that Jesus allowed his temporary physical body to be crucified. Jesus accepted being crucified because he had given himself to God, and that's what God wanted.
In the U.S. and in many other countries, it is considered a great act when a person goes to war and dies for their country. It is held in the highest esteem to sacrifice oneself for one's country. Why is this? Because dying for one's country shows that a person loves their country more than they care about their own well-being.
Now consider this in the light of Jesus' sacrifice. Jesus loved God so much that he was willing to allow his body to be tortured and killed in his service to God. This is the ultimate sacrifice of love - to give ones life in their service to God.
Now consider the connection: Why was Jesus killed? Because of his teachings. He was killed because he taught what the Supreme Being wanted him to teach:
“My teaching is not my own. It comes from the One who sent me." (John 7:16)This is why it was so important that he not escape his execution - because he was standing up for his teachings, which are coming from God. By Jesus standing up for his teachings, and allowing his body to be gruesomely murdered, he was not only showing his love for God, but he was showing each of us - for generations to come - how important his teachings were, and what it means to devote ones life to God.
And it is understanding this - understanding the deep love that Jesus had for God to do this - that has the power to change a person. It is understanding this act of devotion - done in love for God - that has the power to save us.
Why does it have the power to save us? Because it can change our consciousness. It can change our consciousness from loving ourselves above all, to trying to re-develop our love for God. Because it is loving God that ultimately saves us.
And this specifically is why Jesus referred to himself here as not "son of man", as is being mistranslated here, but rather, the "servant of humanity." (See this commentary to understand this translation).
The interpretation that sectarian institutions make is that 'God became man and died on the cross for our sins.' They are saying that God died? What a ridiculous notion. Furthermore, they are saying that God has to provide some form of sacrifice in order to cleanse sins. As if God comes under His own rules? This is simply ludicrous.
God never has to sacrifice Himself. And He never becomes a man. He is the Supreme Being and remains the Supreme Being. And He can forgive sins simply by willing it so. He doesn't need to make some kind of sacrifice. He is the Supreme Being!
This interpretation of Jesus becoming God and being the sacrificial lamb of mankind has been carried through the centuries by practically all of the ecclesiastical Christian sects that came after the Roman Catholic church. Why? Because for at least a thousand years, the Roman Catholic church and Roman government dominated and controlled the Christian dialog and Christian interpretation. Anyone with another interpretation would be burned at the stake, or otherwise taken out. This enforcement of their interpretation created a mass mindset or group-think that has pervaded through the centuries.
Just consider: If a person wants to graduate from seminary school and be a sectarian Christian teacher, they must accept this interpretation because this is what is taught in seminary schools and colleges. Otherwise, they will not be licensed to be a priest or preacher. Without that license, they don't get a congregation and a position at a church. It is as simple as that. This 'code' of licensure has enforced this erroneous and nonsensical interpretation over the centuries, to this day.
Many try to use John 3:16 to support this interpretation. Let's consider this carefully. Here is the verse:
"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only [some translations say "only begotten"] son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)This verse, however, is woefully mistranslated and misinterpreted. Yes, it is true that God so loved the world. And it is true that He sent Jesus to the world as His representative. But the type of giving ("gave") being referred to here is not as though God sent Jesus as our doormat to suffer for our sins. The type of giving (from the Greek word δίδωμι (didōmi)) being discussed here is that God sent Jesus to teach us about Him. There is nothing within the word δίδωμι (didōmi) to construe that it has anything to do with a person being sacrificed. It is speaking of saving others - through the teaching of love for God.
And Jesus was not God's "one and only" son or "only begotten" son. The Greek word being translated here is μονογενής (monogenēs), which can mean "only one of its kind," but in context and everyday usage, the meaning of μονογενής (monogenēs) relates to being special. In other Greek works, we find confirmation that μονογενής is used to denote not the only one, but someone who is special, or singled out. This is the case with Jesus. He was special to God. Why?
Because Jesus was devoted to God. There was an intimate loving relationship existing between Jesus and God. This made Jesus special, and it meant that God's sending Jesus was unique, because Jesus has such an intimate loving relationship with God.
In other words, rather than "only begotten son", the phrase μονογενής υἱός is best translated as "special devoted servant" or "intimate loving servant" - as υἱός means, in this context, "follower" or "dedicated servant."
Furthermore, the Greek phrase, πιστεύων εἰς αὐτὸν, being translated to "believes in him" is mistranslated. The Greek word πιστεύων refers to having "confidence in" or "trust." It is not simply the kind of "belief" relating to knowing a person existed, or knowing a person was great. We are talking about trusting in what Jesus was teaching. And what did Jesus teach?
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)Following this instruction is what will save us. And Jesus not only taught us this. He showed us as well. By his accepting the murder of his physical body at the hands of the Romans and Jewish high priests, Jesus showed us what loving God "with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" means.
(For a translation of Jesus' statements from the Book of Matthew without institutional sectarian influence, see the Gospels of Jesus - translated from the original Greek texts.)