#23 WHY DID JESUS DIE?

When we ask the question ‘Why did Jesus die?’ there are several true answers.

We could point to the treachery of Judas, the jealousy, fear and hatred of the Jewish religious leaders, the weakness of Pilate or the Roman legal system, and every one of these answers would be correct. Jesus died because of the actions of various human beings. They, in one way or another, brought about his death on the cross.

We could give a simple religious answer: ‘to pay for our sins’, and we would again be correct. Christ died as a substitute for sinners: the just for the unjust, the innocent for the guilty, the perfect for the imperfect.

And behind that second answer, we could provide a further answer: Christ died because death is the God-ordained penalty for sin. The wrath of God falls upon sin. Sin attracts judgement and condemnation.

And this involves yet a deeper answer: that if we ourselves had to bear God’s just wrath and penalty, then we would be forever cut off from him without hope of reconciliation, condemned forever to separation from God who alone is the life-giver.

This leads to an even deeper answer: that Jesus died because God wanted us to live. That God loved us, and wanted to restore us to the right relationship with himself so that we could live in his presence forever.

And deeper still: that God, because of his great love for us, actually sent Jesus to die for us. God, whom we had deeply offended by our sin, God, whom we had rejected, sent Jesus, his beloved Son to become a human being, to live a perfect human life, and then to die as our substitute, bearing our sin, bearing our guilt, bearing our condemnation, paying our penalty, rescuing us forever from God’s wrath, and re-establishing our permanent and unimpeded access to God. All because he loved us.

And concurrent with God’s love and God sending Jesus is a further answer: It was God’s will, God’s purpose, God’s determination, to send Jesus to die for us.

But there is a still deeper truth: that God did not formulate this plan of redemption through the substitutionary, sin-bearing, redemptive death of Christ after sin began in Genesis 3. Jesus’ death is not the result of an ‘Oops! What do I do now?’ reaction of God when Adam and Eve rejected him. God formulated this incredible plan before we sinned. God decreed this redemption through the death of Christ even before he created us.

Peter says that Jesus Christ is ‘a lamb without blemish or defect ... chosen before the creation of the world’ [1Peter 1:19,20].

Revelation teaches that Christ is ‘the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world’ [Revelation 13:8].

Paul states ‘this grace was given us in Christ before the beginning of time’ [2Timothy 1:9].

God need not have done it. He could have decided not to create us. But, even though in his omniscience he knew that we would reject him in Genesis 3, he still created us.

So now the answer becomes: that Jesus died because of a plan and determination of God that was in place before the creation of the world. That this plan was not caused by our sin, but by the deep grace of God that made advance provision for dealing with the sin and death that entered the world in Genesis 3.

And the final answer now becomes evident: that Jesus died to bring us back to glory. Glory was always God’s purpose for us.

He created us in his image – the reflections of his glory [Genesis 1:27].

He created us for his glory [Isaiah 43:7].

The work of Christ is described as ‘bringing many sons to glory‘ [Hebrews 2:10].

Our relationship with Christ is termed ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory’ [Colossians 1:27].

And Peter tells us that God has ‘called you to his eternal glory in Christ’ [1Peter 5:10], and describes himself as one who will ‘share in the glory to be revealed’ [verse 1].

Why did Jesus die? The answer can be summed up in two words: grace and glory. Because of God’s grace, and for our glory.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2017