Though there is more to Jesus’ life, there is truth in the saying that Jesus was “born to die, that man might live.”* As I get older and reflect not only on the years past, but in whatever might lay ahead, I am more and more aware of my own mortality. Unless Jesus returns prior to that, we all must die. This is part of the human condition, arguably I’d say a part of it right from the beginning. Humans had access to the tree of life, but we see that they didn’t partake of its fruit, and we’re driven out of the Garden after their disobedience. So we must die.
God becomes flesh, in the likeness of sinful flesh we read, so that God becomes human to live under the curse brought on by sin. The Lord takes on himself all the limitations of humanity, and lives fully and completely in that including being tempted in every way as we are, except that he never sinned. But Jesus was born to die. Something not expected in the Jewish Messianic hope. Yet in the scriptures, as in Isaiah 52 and 53.
Jesus indeed came to die, his very name meaning Yahweh saves, that he might save his people from their sins, just as the angel proclaimed to Joseph in a dream. This dots the landscape of the gospels over and over again, and is the climax of all four gospels, that is the passion (meaning suffering) narratives followed by his resurrection.
The kingdom, grace and new life Jesus brings is possible and a reality only within his death and resurrection. Only in Jesus’ death do we have life, the new life from God that is to go on forever. And this is at the heart of why the Word was made flesh, why God became human. For us and for the world.
*In the Christmas song, “Ring the Bells.” I think it surely reflects an earlier saying of the Church.