Why Did Jesus Have To Die?

Timothy-David's picture

Why did Jesus have to die? I'm not asking what he accomplished by his death. Therefore, when I asked, "Why did Jesus have to die?" I am not looking for the reply, "In order to redeem the world."
I don't understand this passage.

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish, but might have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him."

Why did he need to give up His son? Why did God need to be crucified to undue man's sin? Why couldn't God have simply done away with it? I don't understand how the Incarnation and Crucifixion were an act of love. God the Father said to God Son, "We love the world so much that you should be tortured and killed so that by your death, blood, and rebirth, man can bypass the Law, which no man can fulfill but you, my son, Jesus, the man-God." If no man but God (Jesus) could fulfill the Law then why should God bother dying to free men from the Law? Why not say, "Well, none is righteous, no not one, so therefore enter in."

How does Christ's blood wash away our sins? Someone once put it this way, "Say your brother is arrested for murder. It is for sure he is guilty, and the wise judge knows that it is so. Now, just as the judge is about to condemn the man to Death, you come into the courtroom and speak to the judge saying, "Judge, if you will but spare my brother, and forgive him his murder, you may take my life instead of his." To which the judge says, "Very well, it is known that you are a good man and that you have done no wrong, therefore I will let your murdering brother go, and his crime will be paid for by your Death." And then the judge lets your brother go, though he is a murderer still, and you, the innocent man are killed for his crimes."

Forgive me if I don't understand. Where is the justice? Where is the love?

I'm not trying to challenge anyone's beliefs. I've come here for help to save my own!

PastorDaveSallee's picture

Furthering the study

MelvilleMelvin wrote -
Thank you for the reply, but I'm afraid I'm still as confused as before.

My primary difficulty lies here:

You said, "Hebrews tells us that Jesus was a “more perfect” sacrifice than the system used in the Old Testament. So, in order to understand this we need to understand God’s original covenant with Israel, for it too took blood and sacrifice."

Again, the answer that Jesus had to die as a sacrifice is an answer which I'm still failing to understand. I've been trying to accept it for a few years now, but my heart will still not believe. I've been able to accept many of the moral teachings of Jesus, and willing to accept that Salvation is a free gift which cannot by earned solely by our own efforts, that, in fact, it is a gift given freely, but what I cannot make myself believe (though I am still willing to attribute it to my own ignorance of God's Will) is that God should needed a sacrifice to offer this gift freely.

You are not alone … and if you are being honest with us … you are on the best journey life has to offer.

MelvilleMelvin wrote -
Let me ask a few more questions, and I hope you can answer them, because I cannot.

As you noted, God knows all, and therefore he knew that man was destined to fall even before he made him. Therefore, man was, from the very beginning, doomed to fall. And God, knowing man would fall, created him nonetheless. But God, we assume, is Love, and so, if he allowed us to enter into the world as fallen beings, he only did so, because he had an ultimate plan to raise up man from his fallen state. This plan we believe, is Christ. Also, I understand that evil (man-made evil) comes about as a consequence of having Free Will. The minute Free Will exists (the ability to do God's will or reject it) there is the potential for evil to wrought. By this I understand that man, not God, is the creator of evil. God supplied the Freedom, but man supplies the consequence. I say all this to show that my problem with accepting that Christ died in place of man is not that God would allow Christ to suffer, but that by his suffering our sins should be forgiven.

This is a great subject, but not easily dealt with. For now, let me offer something that you may or may not have considered to this point. We are sinners because we are of Adam. Which is to say, that because of Adam’s sin, we are sinners. We are not sinners because we sin. Sinning is the by-product of us being born into sin. “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned-” (Rom 5:12)

We have to assume that if Adam didn’t sin, someone else would have due to Free Will. This can only be an assumption, and should not be taken too far, because Adam did sin … but Eve sinned first. But it wasn’t due to Eve’s sin that ‘death spread to all men’ … it was Adam’s open rebellion.

That sin of Adam was a biggy! Remember that God told Adam (not Eve) before he did it, that ‘you will surely die.’ And since this was in the form of a command with consequences laid out, when Adam sinned, death was imputed. (Rom 5:13) But, not just to Adam, to all mankind, for we are of Adam.

This death, as well as the sins that follow, must be dealt with for us to enter into heaven. One cannot separate Adam’s sin from our own sins when dealing with the work that Jesus did on the cross.

MelvilleMelvin wrote -
You said my analogy was lacking. Let me try again.

A criminal worthy of death stands before the Judge. The Judge sees that the man is guilty and therefore worthy of death. The criminal is in despair, but the Judge, being a kind and forgiving Judge, tells the criminal not to worry, that if the criminal is willing, he, the Judge, will die in place of the criminal. And because the life of the Judge was infinitely more Holy than that of the criminal it satisfied the Judge to die without reservation. And the Judge was killed.
Then, three days hence, the Judge rises again from the dead, and finds the criminal. He tells the criminal to follow him, and the criminal follows.

I have to ask...if the Judge must still say, "Follow me." Then why did the Judge have to die at all? If the Judge has died and risen, and yet there is still work to do, what did it serve either the Judge or the criminal the He should die?

So that the Criminal should live! Think about it. The criminal didn’t die physically in your analogy. And his sin was dealt with by the Judge. He was allowed to live. Now, upon the Judge’s resurrection, the former criminal (since his debt has been paid) can now have hope that he too will be resurrected and live eternally.

MelvilleMelvin wrote –
Yea, the fact that the Judge first sacrificed himself in place of the criminal to free him from his debt might make the criminal reply to the call, "Follow me." by saying, "What for? You've already died. The debt is paid. I was spared my life." I think St. Paul received a letter about some free men of this mindset, didn't he? What was his reply? I forget. I'd like to see it again if anyone knows.

”What shall we do then? Continue to live in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not!” (Rom 6:1ff)

The sacrifice was necessary to pay the penalty for your sin and mine. The death was necessary for the Resurrection so as to give hope to the believer that we too will be resurrected. Both paying the penalty and destroying death happened in that weekend event.

MelvilleMelvin wrote –
Finally, since Heaven is perfect, and we are imperfect, you noted that we cannot enter Heaven unless we care made clean, so that by being dirty, we don't pollute it. And I ask this...Is it only by the sacrifice of Christ that we are saved? Are we saved by Faith alone, or are we saved by Faith and good works? If only by Faith, then how should the sinner be made clean to enter into Heaven? By believing in the sacrifice of the Lamb? If so, if Faith alone is enough, is the man who believes utterly that Christ died for his sins still prefect if in his belief he continues to speaks ill of others, to drink excessively, to lie, to cheat, to steal, to gamble, or continue in any other action which might be called a sin?

You are asking heated questions in this forum as we are dealing with this in a couple of other threads. But, you first mentioned that you do not want to ‘challenge’ anyone’s beliefs, so I will attempt to answer you here with a general response that most agree upon.

To continue to live in sin strikes me as someone who appreciates what God has done for us and is doing in the world, but has not been converted.

Faith that simply believes Jesus is Lord is not enough. There must be something that defines that faith as “saving faith” for God knows the charlatans. We know this to be good works according to James. The Catholic believes that faith+works = saving faith, whereas the Protestant believes that Faith produces works if the faith in question was “saving faith” to begin with. But, all agree there needs to be something more than just saying ‘I believe.’

MelvilleMelvin wrote –
Of course, you can never know the hearts of other men, but I've been several people in my life who seemed to have great Faith in Jesus' redemptive death, so much so that they began committing sinful acts and saying to me, "It's alright, God forgives."

A person that continues to sin with this expectation does not have God in their heart. Christ did not come so that we could continue to live in sin and ask forgiveness from time to time. The truly regenerated man, will continue to sin, but will not want to. Will hate his sin. Will BEG forgiveness rather than expect it. Yes, he must trust he will receive forgiveness, but not because he feels God is ‘cool’ and will ‘let him slide.’

MelvilleMelvin wrote –
But what if it is by Faith and good works that we are saved? Good works being the fruits of a true faith (they shall be known by their fruits.)

Yes. This is true, no matter how you want to slice and dice it. It is faith and good works. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.” If there are no good works, there is most definitely a lost man proclaiming saving faith.

But, to go further in this would bring in a debate between how much of a role these good works have in our salvation. For now, just know that both sides (Catholic and Protestant) believe that both must be present in the believer.

MelvilleMelvin wrote –
Has a man who commits evil really committed himself to Christ? Surely there are Christian out there who believe in the Gospel, and yet they commit sin out of their weakness? Can a Saved man do evil? Can a Lost man do good? Surely, Atheists have done good before, and believers have done bad. Also, believers have done good, and atheists have done bad.

Yes a saved man can sin, and yes a lost man can do good things. But, only a saved man can do ‘good works’ for they are of God. Any lost man can love his child and give him or her wonderful gifts, but these acts of love are not accompanying a faith that saves.

But, again we border on which comes first, the ‘good works’ to gain salvation, or good works because we are saved. I’m trying not to enter this debate at this moment.

MelvilleMelvin wrote –
So how does Christ's death save? Since you said I should had added, "Follow me." I assume you means that those who accept Christ must also take up their crosses and do as he does. So, is Faith not only the belief in the redemptive death of Christ, but also the livingly of a Christ-like life?

Absolutely. Christ’s death is the penalty paid on our behalf. It in and of itself does not ‘save’ as much as it ‘pays the price’ for our salvation. If I accept Christ and do not take up my cross and follow him, I am not saved. I am merely a wolf in sheep’s clothing. For, a true believer will ‘love his master.’ “If you love me you will keep my commandments.” Jesus said.

Living a Christ-like life is the best way to identify a believer. “For they will know you are my disciples when you love one another.” The best way to ‘judge’ (and that word is not used easily) if you are saved, is the amount of love you have for the Creator, the brethren, and of other lost souls.

MelvilleMelvin wrote –
If so, if we must ultimately follow him, and do as he does, become as he is, by working good works, what was the need of sacrifice? If the sacrifice was not all, but demanded also a godly life to follow, then why bother with the sacrifice at all? Why not begin with the godly life from the outset?

Without the penalty of sin being dealt with, no amount of good works would be sufficient (plenary, propitiation) for God. He is Holy … and therefore requires justice. That price must be acceptable and paid for first. That is why Jesus is the ‘more perfect’ sacrifice than the Old Testament sacrificial system.

MelvilleMelvin wrote –
One more thing, and thank you for the patience...

What do you suppose God thinks of one like me? One who strives to understand the sacrificial nature of Christ's death, but who cannot, no matter how he tries, accept it?

I'm living in the valley between Theism and Christianity, and because of the Hope of the Gospel, and looking for a bridge by which I might cross over.

Well, if you are truly seeking the answers to the questions you have asked here, and are not cleverly picking a fight by claiming ignorance, then I would say God sees a man in search of knowledge and wisdom.

I also feel that our knowledge of God and His love is directly correspondent to our knowledge of our own sin. If you don’t think you sin very much, then there is no need to understand the fullness of the Cross. Yet, the more you look at the cross, the more sin you should see in your life … this increases many things including wisdom, love, and selflessness.

MelvilleMelvin wrote –
I hope this is readable. My thoughts were moving faster than my fingers, and I've not the inclination to edit.

Thank you for the patience.

It is my pleasure to serve you, brother.

Grace and peace to all,

Grace and peace to all,