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!

seventhstar's picture

Redemption in Christ

In the interest of assisting to help one who believes Jesus is the Christ, the very Son of God, to accept that which may not be understood in this life, the following from a Christian Scholar named J. W. Mcgarvey is offered:

"But now, without expatiating upon these texts, the question arises in the human mind, and it has puzzled the brain of many a thoughtful man, How can this be explained? On what principle is it that God, on account, or in consequence of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, may extend pardon to guilty sinners, when He could not have done it otherwise?

Some men have very shallow answers to this question. They say, Christ died as a martyr dies--showed Himself a true martyr to God and truth and right--and by this means, by the power of a noble example, He takes hold on the consciences of men and lifts them to a higher life. Well, there is an unspeakable power in the example of the Lord Jesus Christ; but suppose this were all; then, as I said awhile ago, what becomes of sins? There they stand; there they are, unforgiven. There they are as realities in the past. Unless there is forgiveness, there is punishment still awaiting us. This idea contradicts both the passages that I have quoted. In another place Paul says that Christ's death was for the redemption of those sins that were committed under the first covenant (Heb. 9: 15); and this shows that His blood made an atonement for the sins of men that were committed thousands of years before He died. It was not because His death had an effect on those men to lift their minds and hearts up above sin. They lived and died without ever having heard of His death. It shows that the explanation of which we are speaking is totally inadequate--far short of the reality--and contrary to the statements of the Bible.

Another explanation has been given, and it has been accepted by thousands of devout and earnest men. It is this: That Christ, in His death, actually paid the [32] penalty that was due to the sins of the whole world. The Universalian starts out with this proposition, and draws from it his conclusion that therefore all the world will be saved. Undoubtedly, Christ tasted death for every man. If then, in tasting death for every man, He paid the penalty due to the sins of every man, a just God cannot exact the penalty a second time, and therefore all men will escape. The Calvinist, the very opposite of the Universalian, says, Yes, the principle is true, but He paid the penalty for the elect, and therefore God will not exact the penalty a second time from them. The elect will all he saved, because Christ suffered in their stead and paid the full penalty for their sins. Now, while these are two extremes, the one starting out to save the elect, and the other to save all men, and yet starting from the same assumption, it requires only a very little thought to see that they are both wrong. What is the penalty due to sin? As set forth in the texts quoted in the argument presented last Lord's day, it is everlasting punishment. Did Christ suffer everlasting punishment on the cross? Again, an essential element in the punishment due to sin, is remorse of conscience. Did Christ suffer remorse--torture within His conscience? We have only to ask these questions in order to have them answered, and to know that Christ did not suffer the penalty due to our sins, either in the nature of it, or in the duration of it. Furthermore, if this explanation were true what would become of God's mercy, of which we read so much in the Bible? If a man owes me a debt, and a friend of his comes up and pays me the last cent of it, and I hand up his note, have I exhibited any mercy toward him? What becomes, if either of these doctrines be true, of the idea of forgiveness? If God laid the penalty of all the sins of the whole world upon Jesus Christ and let men go because the penalty has been paid, has he forgiven any sins? No more than I could be said to forgive a debt because I yield up the note of the broken man when his friend has paid me the last cent of it. Starting out, then, to show the mercy of God by [33] showing that He saves all men, that doctrine takes all mercy out of the Bible, and out of God's dealings with the race. Or, if you take it that He saves by His mercy the elect, there is no salvation or mercy in it, because He exacted the very last amount of suffering due for their sins from Him who was the substitute. This explanation, then, can not satisfy, it seems to me, any man who looks at it without bias--with the fair judgment with which we look at other questions. It is not taught in the Bible.

What is, then, the explanation? Well, I don't know. I don't know. I don't believe any other man knows what the reasoning of God was on this subject, by which he felt compelled, according to His own infinite nature, to refuse to pardon a single sin except through the blood of His Son. I don't know. I don't know how many sermons I have heard, trying to explain it. I don't know how many pages--heavy pages--in many books, I have read, from some of the ablest men in the world, trying to set it forth; but I have never yet been able to see it; and if any of you have, I congratulate you.

God's thoughts are not as our thoughts on many things. His ways are far above our ways, as heaven above the earth, and we may not expect to understand the reasons in His mind for the wondrous works of His prudence and mercy. I think, on all such themes, we are prone to look at the subject from the wrong point of view. We try to get at God's ideas about it. It is enough for us to see the part which addresses itself to man. There are multitudes of things that God does in nature, and in the providence that He exercises over the world, the divine reasons for which it is utterly impossible for any human mind to penetrate; but it is not difficult, generally, when we look at these same inscrutable workings and ways of providence, to see their effects, and to know by their effects that there is wisdom and prudence, as the apostle says in my text, behind them all.

Let us look, then, at the effect of God's setting forth [34] before angels and men, this great scheme of redemption through the blood of His Son, and of His declaring that this is what enables Him to justify men in the forgiveness of their sins. Has it had the effect which pardon so often has in this world, of encouraging the subjects of law to commit sin? If so, then we would not be able to see in it any wisdom. But has it had such an effect? Do you know the effect that this wondrous work of God has had upon the minds of angels in heaven? Why, it has inspired the sweetest song that they ever sang, instead of raising a feeling of rebellion. John heard that song, and he says, "I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne; and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a great voice, worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive the power and riches and wisdom, and might, and honor, and glory, and blessing." (Rev. 6: 11-14). That is the view which the angels take of it. When from those lofty heights you look down upon the effect which it has among men, and find the men who have accepted in their hearts with profoundest faith that their redemption is through the blood of Christ, they are the men who are farthest removed from sin of all that dwell upon the earth. It has not encouraged them to commit sin, or given them any feeling of license against God. And then, when you inquire, what is it, of all the things that have ever been said in the pulpit, or been read in the New Testament, which has had the greatest power to turn sinners away from their sins, and bring them to God, to holiness and to righteousness, you find that it is the fact of redemption in the blood of Christ. The power of God to turn the hearts of men away from sin, and unto holiness, is embodied in that fact. The preaching of the Christ, says Paul, is to the Greek foolishness, and to the Jews a stumbling block; but to us that are saved, "the power of God and the wisdom of God." (1 Cor. 1: 23-24). And yet, I suppose that Paul was no more able to look in and see how God's [35] mind worked out the problem, than you or I; for he never told us. We see by its effects that it must be wise; that it is wise; that it is good, that it is the greatest display of the wisdom and mercy of the living God that the world has known anything about, or that angels have ever seen--and that is enough for you and me.

Let me say, my dear brethren and sisters, that this redemption in Christ goes even further than I have yet intimated. It not only enables God, when we come to Christ in His appointed way, to forgive our sins, blotting out all the past, to take away the threatened penalty and grant unto us everlasting bliss and peace of mind; and, what is strangest of all, to take out of our hearts all remorse on account of the many sins we have committed; but it goes beyond that. For we are told that the whole creation travails and groans in pain, until this hour, and we ourselves, who have received the first fruits of the spirit, groan within ourselves, waiting, because there is something yet in the future that we have not obtained. What is that? "Waiting for the adoption, even the redemption of the body." (Rom. 8: 18-23). The body is to be redeemed as well as the soul, in Christ, and by His precious blood--by His death for us. The redemption of the body from the corruption of the grave. It is sown in corruption; it is to be raised in incorruption. It is sown a weak body; it is to be raised a strong body. (1 Cor. 15: 42-44). It is to be raised in the likeness of Him who will descend from heaven in glory; for when He comes, we shall be like Him, and we shall see Him as He is. (1 John 3: 2.) You and I do not know how much value there is in that. Sometimes we depreciate our bodies. Be careful how you do that, my dear friends. When God created Adam from the dust of the earth, He made him in some mysterious way in the image of God; and if Christ died to redeem our souls, He also died to redeem our bodies. Our souls will not live any longer in eternity than our raised and glorified bodies will. They will be united together, never to be [36] separated. I do not know anything in the Bible to teach me that God thinks any less of my body than He does of my soul. Brethren, take care of your bodies. They are the temples of the living God. Do not abuse them; do not use them for vile purposes. Preserve the health and strength of your body as long as you can, for God regards it as a precious thing; and when it is laid in the grave, although it shall become food for worms, not one particle of it shall ever be lost sight of by His divine eyes. It can not be lost, but will be raised again in glory on the Great Day; and then in a body that can never know any pain, shall dwell the soul that can no longer feel remorse on account of sin, or fear of anything in all eternity to come. The creation that is now travailing and groaning and waiting, will that day be seen in a revelation of God's power and wisdom more glorious than has ever been witnessed in this universe of which we form so small a part. This is the redemption that is in Christ.

And now, in conclusion, I want to ask one question, and impress it as deeply as I am able, upon every soul in this house.

If sin is of such a nature that God Himself, with all His infinite wisdom, and all His undying love toward our race, could find no way to redeem us from it, without the shedding of the blood of His own dear Son, the heart's blood of Him who came down from heaven to endure the ignominious death of the cross for this great end, what an awful thing sin must be! Just think of it. And let me ask you another question in connection with this. Was the evil consequence which God foresaw that sin would bring upon us, some little thing, like a scratch upon your hand? Was sin a mere peccadillo? Was it a mere mistake that could bring but little pain upon us? Would the Almighty send His own Son to suffer the agonies of the cross in order to redeem us from a little thing like that? Ah! my dear friends, it is only when we know what we endeavored to show you last Lord's day, the darkness, the gloom, the gnashing of teeth, the awful agonies of [37] the eternal world to which sin is bearing us, that we can realise why it should cost such a price, and why God should be willing to pay such a price, to redeem us from it. Are you living in sin? Oh! tremble before your God; get down on your knees; lift up your hands and your heart, and plead with Him to have mercy on you; smite your breast, and say, "God be merciful to me a sinner." Cast yourself into the arms of this Redeemer who is so ready and so anxious to redeem you--to blot out your transgressions, and to grant you everlasting life." J. W. Mcgarvey

I confess that it may well be possible that I do not understand the magnitude of sin, or the perfection of God's justice, or any of his "ways" that are past findinging out. But, a failure to understand is no justification for an unwillingness on my part to believe one who has proven beyond doubt to be God's own Son through his resurrection from the dead. I therefore highly recommend accepting the salvation that he offers however far it may be beyond our feeble capability to understand. Will we ever learn that man cannot save himself by his own understanding and wisdom? "For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." (1COR. 1:21). He does not appear here to promise salvation to those who "understand" but to those who believe with no requirement to understand completely. For Unbelievers this "preaching of the cross" will ever be "foolishness" but to those of us who are saved it is both the very wisdom and power of God, whose wisdom and power have always been beyond finite man's capacity to fully comprehend.
"For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God." (1 Cor. 1: 18).

Respectfully, in the Love of Christ

E. Lee Saffold