#657 – Tragic Biblical Deaths

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I love the Internet. All of its dangers and consequences are outweighed by the ability to connect with people and to find awesome things. One example of such awesome things is the paintings you can see above.

Artist Joao Dias Pires created these paintings of each Ninja Turtle surviving the death of his brothers. These paintings are awesome but also tremendously sad and tragic. I loved the Ninja Turtles growing up and I’m even looking forward to the new Michael Bay-produced Teenage Mutant Nina Turtles movie. My love for the turtles made these beautiful paintings even more tragic.

Here are some other tragic, biblical deaths.


Samson is a great example of a tragic hero. He was defeated by his own faults but thankfully found redemption. Even though Samson’s death was the consequence of his own poor decisions, it’s still tragic. It was only before he died that he realized God’s greatness infinitely exceeded his own. It was only in Samson’s weakness that he truly realized God’s strength. Had Samson come to those realizations as a young man, he could have led Israel to even greater heights.


Jonathan was to the Saul family as Marilyn was to the Munsters. In a family full of crazy, Jonathan was sane, stable and not prone to attempted murder. Jonathan loved his friend David and knew that God was giving the kingdom to David. Jonathan supported David as the next king even though it meant that he wouldn’t receive his father’s throne. If he had survived the battle with the Philistines on Mount Gilboa, Jonathan would have been a great friend and advisor to King David. Unfortunately the Philistines tragically killed Jonathan and the Bible’s best bromance was cut short.


I wasn’t sure if I should claim that Jesus’s death was tragic. While he was innocent and while his torture and death were brutal, I’m not sure his death was tragic. Tragic deaths occur to people who are too young or to people who had so much left to give. Tragic deaths occur for seemingly now reason at all. Jesus may have been young, but he accomplished more through his death than the sum of humanity has or will ever accomplish. And while his disciples, staring at the cross, must have thought Jesus died for no reason, we know that there was purpose in his death. So while the manner of Jesus’s death was definitely tragic, gruesome and excruciating, it accomplished the universe’s greatest victory.

Death is never awesome, not for strongmen, princes or mutant turtles. Thankfully, though, even the most tragic deaths can be redeemed because of what Jesus’s death accomplished on the cross. That may not have any meaning for Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo and Raphael, but hopefully it has meaning for us every day.

What Biblical death do you find most tragic?


1 comments on “#657 – Tragic Biblical Deaths”

  1. You and I have argued about whether Samson found redemption or not before, so I won’t rehash all that now, simply point out that, according to the text, his motivation for bringing down the Philistine temple is revenge. It is tragic, however, that, as you say, Samson never fully realized who and how great God is. Even in death, he never rose above thinking about himself. The good news is God stuck with him and worked through him despite it, so how much more hope must there be for those who, at least here and there and now and then (as Frederick Buechner puts it) do realize who God is and try, however feebly, to serve him?

    But I do appreciate your nuanced treatment of Jesus’ death. From a human point of view, it certainly was tragic; and the fact that he was (as one of my denomination’s faith statements puts it) “unjustly condemned” to die, I think it should motivate us to fight injustice in the criminal justice system today, and to work against all brutal and dehumanizing suffering and pain when we see it (you know, no doubt, that the pain of crucifixion was so terrible they had to invent an adjective for it – “excruciating”). Without denying the truth of the Resurrection or what it means for God’s victory over death, I think everything you have said here is right on target.

    Great idea for a post, Scott, as always, and well done. Thanks for it!

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