It is probably the case that Jesus could have spared himself Roman torture, just as Socrates could have fled from Athens, and saved his life. Both men allowed themselves to be put to death for a far greater cause then their own life. Each saw himself as a true Representative of humanity, and a man with a mission from God Himself. Jesus did not take his torture and death as the end, but as a means to achieve far greater good. To his disciples and to the Gentiles, embodied by some Greeks, Jesus announces his intention and acceptance on the edge of death: The Son of man’s time has come. “Truly I tell you, unless the grain of wheat falls into earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” As Socrates died for the honor and success of philosophy, Jesus died to bring human beings to God. His death would be his greatest act of love, and proof of the reality of his life and love: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down his life for his friends.” For us, he died. But at the same time, Jesus extends the invitation to each of us: “He who loves his life loses it, but he who hates his life in this world keeps it for eternal life” (Jn 12). That means, among other things: Whoever clings to himself, and what is his or hers, loses what they have, and even their very self; but whoever surrenders himself to God in love, as Jesus did, preserves his being for eternal life.
Death accepted brings renewed life. A life loved at any cost—“I will do whatever it takes, and say whatever I need to say to clear my name”—is already a living death. The man in love with himself more than with goodness, truth, God, is spiritually diseased, and bound to die. The one who lives in acceptance of God’s will, God’s way—even when it costs one everything—is truly alive now, and will in God’s time “bear much fruit.” No one has been nearly as fruitful in human history as the relatively obscure man from Nazareth.