If Jesus is really God, then how can God be crucified and be dead for two days?
This question gets right at the heart of our understanding of the person and work of Jesus on earth. The Bible is clear that Jesus Christ is God, and the second Person of the Trinity (John 1:1-3; 14-18; 5:18). And yet, the Bible is clear that Jesus Christ suffered on earth in His obedience unto death on the cross. So then we ask, how is it possible that Jesus possibly die? To answer such a question in a few short paragraphs would not do justice to the historical theology that dates back to the apostles and the various church councils which sought to answer questions about Christology (the study of the Person and work of Jesus). However, we will make an attempt.
Fully God and fully man
When we look at what the Bible says about Jesus, we learn that He is fully God (John 1:1-17; Colossians 1:15-16) and fully man (1 John 4:2). This union of His deity and His humanity came at the conception in Mary’s womb through the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:26-37). When Jesus calmed the storm, cast out demons, was transfigured, raised Lazarus from the dead, and performed other miracles, we see how He is God. And yet, there are times when we see Jesus sleeping, tempted in the desert, hungry, amazed and surprised by His disciples’ lack of faith, and at one point, He admits that only the Father knows when He (Jesus) will return to earth in glory. Jesus is human.
So, did God die?
When Jesus gave up His life on the cross, we ask the question: did God die? Well, if God died then all the heavens and the earth would not be able to stay together (Colossians 1:16-17). We see in Scripture that everything is held together by God. We see that God sustains all things. God did not die, but rather Jesus as a human person died, and when He died He gave up his spirit. If Jesus in His divinity died, the world would cease to exist. Such an answer may lead to more questions.
Ultimately, we see similar mysteries throughout the Bible. How is it possible that there is predestination of souls, and yet humans have free agency and moral responsibility? How is it possible that one God could be in three Persons? How is it possible that the Bible is written by men, yet inspired by God? Rationally, we come to our wits end in seeking to draw out the finest distinctions on all these matters, and we then accept the truths we know in the Bible by faith. God did not die on the cross, but Jesus in His humanity died.