The crucifixion of Jesus is generally acknowledged as a defining event in human history. But why did Jesus have to die? His earthly life was perfect and his conduct irreproachable. He spoke words of wisdom and grace. He ministered to and cared for all kinds of people. Wasn’t it enough that His life is a good pattern for us? Why did Jesus have to die on the cross?
The problem of sin
Our God was purposeful in His creation of mankind. His intention was to enter into us, be joined with us, and live in us. By living in us, He could be expressed through us. But Satan, God’s enemy, tempted Adam in the Garden of Eden. Instead of receiving the life of God, Adam took in the evil nature of sin, contaminating all his descendants. In this way, sin corrupted the human beings God created for His purpose.
Without exception, every one of us inherited sin from Adam. In Romans 5:12 the apostle Paul wrote, “Through one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and through sin, death; and thus death passed on to all men because all have sinned.”
All have sinned. Who among us can say we’ve never done something sinful or bad? Our sins and the sinful nature within us are a part of us from birth as our inheritance from Adam. We had no choice in the matter. Not only so, as we also see in the verse above, sin brought in an ultimate result: death.
Romans 6:23 tells us clearly, “the wages of sin is death.”
This death is the physical death of our body, the death of our spirit that was created to contain and contact God, and finally, the eternal death of our entire being in the lake of fire. Death is the result, the wages, of sin; it is the judgment by God upon us for sin.
Although God loves mankind, He cannot act against His own righteousness. God had no choice but to condemn sinful man, and the sentence is death. His righteousness and holiness demands judgment on sin.
God’s righteous requirement
Because the wages of sin is death, the righteous judgment of death must be carried out. Unless the sinner is forgiven, the sinner must die. But forgiveness of sins can’t be acquired by any work one could perform or any merit one could attain before God. How could sinful people produce anything that’s up to the standard of God’s righteousness and holiness? It’s impossible.
Hebrews 9:22 tells us the unique way forgiveness can be obtained:
“And almost all things are purified by blood according to the law, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”
God’s righteousness requires the shedding of blood for the forgiveness of sins.
Christ our Substitute
Though mankind was contaminated by the evil element of sin, nothing could deter God from fulfilling His heart’s desire to be united with us. But God could not simply overlook sins and still be righteous, and we had a debt of sin we could never repay. So to carry out His plan, He provided a way to redeem us. God took incredible steps for us to be eternally and utterly saved.
God Himself became a man, Jesus Christ, with flesh and blood in order to die in our place on the cross. As Jesus hung on the cross, the sins of all mankind were laid upon Him. He bore them all! By His death, He paid the full penalty for our sins. His shed blood completely satisfied God’s righteous requirement and obtained eternal redemption for us.
Consider how much Jesus’ shed blood did for us:
Matthew 26:28—just before His crucifixion, the Lord Jesus plainly told His disciples that His blood was “being poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.”
1 Peter 1:18-19—we are redeemed, not with corruptible things, with silver or gold, “but with precious blood, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot, the blood of Christ.”
Revelation 1:5—Jesus Christ “released us from our sins by His blood.”
How precious is the blood of Jesus shed for us! It was poured out for the forgiveness of our sins, it redeemed us, and it released us from our sins. Praise the Lord!
Forgiveness and more
John 3:16, a verse that’s familiar to many of us, says,
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that every one who believes into Him would not perish, but would have eternal life.”
Our loving God found a righteous way for this wonderful word to be possible. When we believe into the Son of God, we receive forgiveness of sins. God accepts Jesus’ death as ours, and we are freed from death, the penalty of sin. And there’s more: we are born again with eternal life. God comes into us to be one with us, to be our life, and to live in us so He can be expressed through us.
Because Jesus died for us, we’re saved from eternal judgment, cleansed of the contamination of sin, reconciled to God, and brought back to God’s original purpose. Nothing but His death could have accomplished even one of these marvelous feats.
Why Jesus had to die on the cross
In 1 Peter 2:24 we see why Jesus had to die,
“Who Himself bore up our sins in His body on the tree, in order that we, having died to sins, might live to righteousness; by whose bruise you were healed.”
Why did Jesus have to die? So we could live.
After Christ died for us, He didn’t remain in the grave; He resurrected. Through Christ’s substitutionary death for us, our debt of sin was paid. Now, in Christ’s resurrection, we who were once sentenced to death can live with the life of God!
“Lord Jesus, I deserved only the judgment of death. But Lord, You died on the cross for me! Thank You for paying the penalty of my sins with Your own precious blood. Thank You for being my Substitute. Oh Lord, thank You for shedding Your blood so I could have the forgiveness of sins. And thank You, Lord, for coming to live in me and be my life. Thank You Lord Jesus, You died so I could live! I love You, Lord Jesus. I appreciate everything You did for me on the cross.”
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