Why Did Jesus Have to Die?
This incredibly important question involves a matter central to Christianity, yet effectively answering it is often difficult for Christians. We will take a careful look at the question and lay out the answers offered in Scripture.
However, before we answer the question, “Why did Jesus have to die?” it’s also important to understand that Jesus clearly understood his mission on earth involved laying down his life as a sacrifice. In other words, Jesus knew it was His Father’s will for him to die.
He proves his foreknowledge and understanding of his death in these passages from Scripture:
Mark 8:31 Then Jesus began to tell them that he, the Son of Man, would suffer many terrible things and be rejected by the leaders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, and three days later he would rise again. (NLT)
(See also Mark 9:31)
Mark 10:32-34 Taking the twelve disciples aside, Jesus once more began to describe everything that was about to happen to him in Jerusalem. “When we get to Jerusalem,” he told them, “the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die and hand him over to the Romans. They will mock him, spit on him, beat him with their whips, and kill him, but after three days he will rise again.” (NLT)
Mark 10: 38 But Jesus answered, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of sorrow I am about to drink? Are you able to be baptized with the baptism of suffering I must be baptized with?” (NLT)
Mark 10:43-45 Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be the slave of all. For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom for many.” (NLT)
Mark 14:22-25 As they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread and asked God’s blessing on it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take it, for this is my body.” And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. And he said to them, “This is my blood, poured out for many, sealing the covenant between God and his people. I solemnly declare that I will not drink wine again until that day when I drink it new in the Kingdom of God.” (NLT)
John 10:17-18 “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” (NKJV)
This last verse also explains why it is pointless to blame the Jews or the Romans—or anyone else, for that matter, for “killing” Jesus. Jesus, having the power to “lay it down” or “take it again,” freely gave up his life. It truly doesn’t matter then, who “killed” Jesus. The ones who nailed the nails only helped carry out the destiny he came to fulfill by laying down his life on the cross.
God is HolyThough God is all merciful, all powerful and all forgiving, God is also holy, righteous and just.
Isaiah 5:16 But the LORD Almighty is exalted by his justice. The holiness of God is displayed by his righteousness. (NLT)
Sin and Holiness are Incompatible
entered the world through one man’s disobedience – Adam, and now all of us are born into this “sin nature.”
Romans 5:12 When Adam sinned, sin entered the entire human race. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. (NLT)
Romans 3:23 For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard. (NLT)
Sin Separates Us from GodIsaiah 35:8 And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not journey on it; it will be for those who walk in that Way; wicked fools will not go about on it. (NIV)
Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. (NIV)
Sin’s Punishment is Eternal Death
God’s holiness and justice demand that sin and rebellion be punished. The only penalty or payment for sin is eternal death.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (NASB)
Romans 5:21 So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful kindness rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (NLT)
Our death is not sufficient to atone for sin
because atonement requires a perfect, spotless sacrifice, offered in just the right way. Jesus, the one perfect God-man, came to offer the pure, complete and everlasting sacrifice to remove, atone, and make eternal payment for our sin.
1 Peter 1:18-19 For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. He paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. (NLT)
Hebrews 2:14-17 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. (NIV)
Only Through Jesus Christ
Only through Jesus Christ can our sins be forgiven, thus restoring our relationship with God and removing the separation caused by sin.
2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (NIV)
1 Corinthians 1:30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. (NIV)
The Messiah – Savior
The suffering and the glory of the coming Messiah was foretold in Isaiah chapters 52 and 53
. God’s people in the Old Testament looked forward to the Messiah that would save them from their sin. Though he did not come in the form they expected, still their faith looking forward to his salvation saved them. Our faith, looking backward to his act of salvation, saves us. When we accept Jesus’ payment for our sin, his perfect sacrifice washes away our sin and restores our right standing with God. God’s mercy and grace provided a way for our salvation.
Romans 5:10 For since we were restored to friendship with God by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be delivered from eternal punishment by his life. (NLT)
In Summary, when we are “in Christ Jesus” we are covered by his blood through his sacrificial death, our sins are paid for, and we no longer have to die an eternal death. We receive eternal life though Jesus Christ.
And this is why Jesus had to die.