Why did Jesus have to die? Isn't this talk of blood and death a bit extreme? How should I think about the cross?
Good Friday is a time of somber celebration remembering the death of Jesus in our place. Yet, even if we grew up with this in the rhythm of our life it can seem odd and extreme. Why couldn’t God just forgive? It seems rather primitive to demand a death. I am a parent and when my daughter does something wrong we don’t kill something, we ask for forgiveness. Isn’t this death stuff a little extreme? This line of reasoning overlooks several key biblical truths. I believe as we reflect on these verses and truth we prepare our hearts well for Easter weekend.
1. We were dead in our sins not just sick.
“the wages of sin is death... Romans 6:23 …you were dead in the trespasses and sins Ephesians 2:1
Sin is more than a character defect needing rehabilitation, it is a human condition impacting every part of us leaving us in need of a divine remedy. What are we rescued from? Death! We can’t even stand before God’s holiness, purity, goodness, justice and majesty. And so properly understanding God’s holiness and our rebellion, maybe a more realistic question is, how does God find it possible to save us? Why would he even save us?
2. God’s grace is undeservedly better than we could have hoped.
He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace… Ephesians 1:7-10
The beauty we see here is how rich in grace God is. God is just, but he is also loving. Jesus took on his body, in his death the death we deserved so we could live. Why did Jesus die? So we can live and become fully alive in the righteousness of God!
3. It is finished, Jesus did it all.
“It is finished” John 19:30
Jesus does not need our help. It is finished, it is paid in full, Jesus is the final sacrifice that is fully sufficient for all who call on him. We don’t add to what he did, we don’t take away and we don’t deserve it. Why did Jesus have to die? Because there is nothing we bring to the table. We aren’t just a bit off track, we are dead and need to be rescued, brought to life!
These verses and truth are commonly misunderstood and hard to fully comprehend. This is very evident as found on a recent survey by LifeWay Research, in which 71 percent of Americans reported they believe they must contribute to their own salvation. We know, as William Temple (1881-1944 - Archbishop of Canterbury) aptly put, “The only thing we contribute to our salvation is the sin that makes it necessary.”
Celebrate on resurrection Sunday, but first sit with the truth of Good Friday and let the significance of what Jesus has done sink in. Our worship, awe and celebration on Sunday only becomes sweeter and sweeter when we realize how undeserved our hope is!
Quote and stats from:
- Geiger, Eric and Peck, Kevin (2016). Designed to Lead (p. 102)