So Why Did Jesus Have to Die?

CrossI ask people why Jesus had to get strung up on a Roman cross and die.

The typical answer I get from Christians is, “to save us from our sins.” I can tell they don’t know why and are just repeating what the preacher or Sunday school teacher told them.

So why do Christians insist Jesus had to die? Why couldn’t God just shout from heaven, “I forgive you!” and be done with it? And why, oh why, isn’t it enough to simply be a good person?

Let’s cut through the theological complexities to this:

God is Holy.­  God is almighty, perfect, and separate from his creation; he is without sin of any kind. That’s great, but it creates a big problem for us: Our sinful human state separates us from him (Isaiah 6:3–5).

God is Righteous.  God requires justice, either in this life or the next. A price must be paid for every wrong. Sin is like a cancer that won’t go away. It must be destroyed, which means we all get the death penalty. This is why no one can ever be good enough to make it to heaven by their own effort (Leviticus 17:11; Romans 3:23–26). We’re all dead meat.

God is Love.  God loves us, whom he’s created, and wants to have relationship with us. So after centuries of Old Testament animal sacrifice, he gave us Jesus Christ, who was simultaneously God and human. Jesus died in our place to pay the price (death) for the sins of all humanity and to give a “not guilty” verdict to those who receive him as Lord of their lives (Romans 5:8). His resurrection overcame the powers of death and hades to guarantee eternal life to those who are his (Revelation 1:17–18), while here and now his Spirit brings life to our previously disconnected human spirits.

That’s something to remember on Good Friday and celebrate on Easter.

Jesus, open our eyes and minds to the depths and reasons you came to came to die for us. Pierce our hearts to passionately understand.

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