Welcome! In this post we look at the question “Why did Jesus have to die?”
Here’s why the question is critical: if you and I don’t get clear on the need for Jesus’ horrific death on the cross, we’ll never fully grasp the full nature of God. And we’ll cheapen the significance of the cross.
Why Did Jesus Have to Die? Because of Justice.
Reason #1: So that God can welcome us into His holy presence.
Once humanity chose to sin, our sin separated us from God. Because God is completely holy. This might be hard for us to understand, so let’s use an analogy. Imagine a freshly shampooed carpet in our family playroom — and our muddy-pawed puppy racing toward it. We’d stall the puppy to prevent it from spoiling the carpet, right?
The torture that Jesus endured on the way to His death was shameful. Crucifixion, perfected under the Romans, remains the most monstrous form of public execution ever devised. It is excruciating and inhumane.
Jesus sweated drops of blood over what He was about to endure. But He chose to make that sacrifice, to reconcile us with God.
Dr. Andy Bannister answers our question like this: The cross, he explains, is the cross-section of God’s mercy and justice. When true forgiveness or mercy is bestowed, someone has to pay the price for it. The cross offers true mercy and forgiveness, but not at the expense of justice. God, through Jesus, was perfectly unselfish. He stepped up to pay the exorbitant fine required for our sin.
Notes Richard Cunningham in his excellent article on BeThinking.org: “We underestimate the significance of our sin — which is why the death of Jesus looks like gratuitous violence.” Bibleinfo.com adds, “…a just and perfect God could not simply sweep sin under the carpet and go on running a perfect universe.”
Because we can’t see our sin the way God does, we view His standards as too high. But our perspective is wrong. Why Did Jesus Have to Die? Because of Love.
Reason #2: To demonstrate God’s complete and utter love for us.
Why, asks Cunningham, did Jesus so deliberately co-operate with a series of events that took Him to a place of torture and bloody execution? It seems unnecessary. Except for the point we just made in Reason #1: That God Himself was in Christ, personally dealing with the sin.
“True love has the power not to ignore hurt, but to absorb it,” wisely notes Cunningham. God and Jesus absorbed the pain of our sin and digested it. And Christ, he adds, “plumbed the depths of His own divine heart for those inner resources which alone can quench God’s righteous anger.”
Bibleinfo.com’s view is spot on: “The cross is graphic enough to reach the most hardened criminal, but also the most sensitive humanist.” Jesus was willing to die brutally for us, to prevent our brutal punishment. Once we understand the depth of His sacrifice, we can’t help but be grateful.
Have you accepted Christ as Lord? The expiration date on His loving invitation ceases only upon your last breath. But why wait? Step into relationship with Him now!
In our next blog post, let’s look at some of the foundations of the Christian faith.
Catch up: The introductory post to this series.