Why Did Jesus Have To Die?
Why did Jesus have to die to save us from sin? If God is so powerful could he not have saved us another way, without having to send his Son to die? Answering this question is foundational to the Christian faith. It helps believers to comprehend the character of God, grasp the nature of sin, and consider the necessity of punishing sin. This is truly one of the most important questions for a believer to tackle in life. Our CLS 9th graders had the opportunity to do so this week in their Bible class.
To answer this question, students turned to Scripture. They looked into God’s character in passages like Isaiah 6:3 and 2 Thessalonians 1:6. They explored the nature of sin and punishment in passages like Ezekiel 18:4, Romans 3:23; 5:12; and 6:23, Leviticus 17:11, and Hebrews 9:22. Finally, they studied Christ’s sacrifice in passages such as Isaiah 53:5-6, Romans 8:3-4, and 2 Corinthians 5:21.
When we dive into Scripture, we see that God cannot simply wave his hand and make all of our sin go away. That is not in his nature. God is loving and gracious and forgiving. But, he is also a God who is holy and cannot stand in the presence of sin (Isaiah 6:3). He is just and punishes sin made against him. God declares this about himself in Exodus 34:6-7, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished.” It is not in God’s nature to let us off scott free when we have committed wrong against him. Our sin has to be punished and “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). So, there had to be death to pay the penalty for sin and blood had to be shed. Hebrews 9:22 says, “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”
Since it is humans who sinned against God, it is humans who bear the punishment. The Law cannot save us because it cannot change the sinful human heart (Rom. 8:3-4). But God, being gracious and merciful, sent his Son to become a human and take the punishment that we deserve. Christ bore the wrath of God on the cross on our behalf, satisfying God’s justice and paying the price for our sin. Isaiah 53:5-6 says, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Not only did Christ die for our sin, but he was raised from the grave, defeating sin and death. Because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and resurrection from the grave, we are free from the power of sin and death. Anyone who believes in Christ has new life just as he was raised from death to life. What good news this is!
After completing this project, students reflected on the impact it had on their faith. The following are some of their reflections:
“Through researching this topic, I learned why it was truly necessary for God to sacrifice his Son for us, as well as his incredible mercy and sacrifice. I learned that we truly have a God who cares for us, enough to sacrifice his own Son!”
“God could have easily sent us to Hell to die, but instead Jesus took our place so that we didn’t have to go through that punishment. If we know that, we can know how much Jesus loves us.”
“These verses about God’s holiness, our sin, and Christ’s sacrifice refreshed what sin is and how important Jesus is to saving us (and everything, basically). Before this, I had forgotten and not really thought about why Jesus had to die. It was a little foggy. Now, through these verses, I remember and it has become more clear to me why Jesus had to do it.”
“I did not know that God sent Jesus to die because God wanted to show his character and how he is just to us.”
“I have always been so grateful for the sacrifice Jesus had made on that day, but I was always confused. I knew he was the perfect sacrifice, but why was there ever a need to sacrifice him in the first place? Was there a better way? However this activity answered that question. It may sound weird, but I never learned why God did this sacrifice like this. It was because of His fairness, and how He followed the law in doing so. This has made my faith stronger by filling in the gaps of information that I never knew, and it made me more confident in my faith.”
“This project has helped me understand how God can’t do certain things like excuse punishments because it goes against his character. This project has also helped me understand the reason Jesus was sent as a human and had to suffer in order for our salvation.”
Katie Schmidt, Bible Teacher