Welcome! Thanks for joining us for this, our twelfth post in our new year-long blog series we’re calling “Journey Together.” In this post we’ll look at two answers for the question “Why did Jesus have to die?”
Here’s why the “Why did Jesus have to die?” question is critical: if you and I don’t get clear on the need for Jesus’ cruel death on the cross, we’ll never fully grasp the full nature of God. And we’ll cheapen the significance of the cross — which I’ll admit I did for a whole lot of years. People, I was 100 percent disgusted by the cross. I hated hearing about it in church. And there was no way I was going to wear a shiny gold replica of it around my neck! Gross! As a young child I can remember thinking, “Poor grown-up baby Jesus!”
“Why did Jesus have to die?” Let’s look at two important reasons!
Why Did Jesus Have to Die? Because of Justice.
Why did Jesus have to die? 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 oh-so-enlightened Romans, remains the most monstrous form of public execution ever devised. It is horrific, excruciating, and inhumane.
As a child — okay, even for a whole lot of my adult years — I missed the of Himself part. The phrase “God sent His son to die” muddies the reality that God and Jesus are one.
Author Max Lucado has been a tremendous influence in opening my eyes to just how up-close and personal God was during Jesus’ crucifixion. God wasn’t a distant bystander. Rather, because God and Jesus are interconnected, He also agonized over what needed to happen. He must have felt every slap, punch, and lash of the whip. He must have felt the jarring pain in each step to Golgotha. He must have felt the desperate overwhelm of suffocation of hanging on the cross. For sure, God felt the suffocating weight of our evilness and sin that draped heavily on Jesus. God or Jesus could have prevented the cross — but then again, no, if you and I were to be redeemed.
Jesus sweated drops of blood at the thought of what He was to endure. But He chose to willingly make that ultimate sacrifice, so that we can approach Him and the Father without obstacle, 24/7.
Dr. Andy Bannister of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries answers the question of “Why did Jesus have to die?” 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 kinda think, maybe, that His standards are too high. That perhaps God should take a chill pill. But our perspective is wrong!Christ's suffering was so terrible because it was equal to the seriousness of our sin. Click To Tweet
Here’s my prayer for all of us: that we begin to see how our sin hurts God — and that we gain the desire to truly honor Him wholeheartedly with our words, thoughts, and actions. To be as committed to reflecting the love expressed on the cross, as Jesus was in allowing Himself to be nailed to it.
Why Did Jesus Have to Die? Because of Love.
Why did Jesus have to die? 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? Come feel His love now!
In our next blog post, let’s look at some of the foundations of the Christian faith. Christianity is based on truth!
Catch up: The introductory post to this series.