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Why Did Jesus Have to Die for Us?

At the heart of the story of God and his love for the world, we find the cross. We see Jesus willingly going to his death for the sake of the world. We see an innocent person die the death of a criminal. The question we come back to when looking at the horror of the cross is, “Why did Jesus have to die?” Why was Jesus crucified? Why did Jesus suffer like he did? As you read through the story of the crucifixion of Jesus, you may ask yourself, “Why did Jesus do this for me?” 

Why was Jesus crucified under the law?

“Why did Jesus have to die?” isn’t just a major theological question. There’s also the practical question, “Why was Jesus crucified under Roman law?” 

Well, the Jewish high priests were apparently looking for a reason to get rid of Jesus. As the revolutionary leader of a new movement that challenged the religious status quo, he posed a threat to their power. But they couldn’t just take action themselves. Ultimately, sentencing was up to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor at the time. And they needed to provide him with a legal justification for Jesus to be crucified.

The trial of Jesus

A number of witnesses testified against Jesus before the Sanhedrin, a Jewish court. Although the Gospel of Mark says many of them gave false testimony, Jesus didn’t confirm or deny their accusations. In fact, Jesus remained quiet through most of his trial, refusing to respond to the charges leveled against him. But he did respond to one question. Asked, “Are you the Messiah?” he seemed to admit that he was. Caiaphas, the chief priest, called this blasphemy. And then the others agreed that Jesus should be put to death. 

Jesus appears before Pontius Pilate

Brought before Pilate, Jesus again remained mostly silent. But to the question, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus responded, “You say so.” 

Pilate wasn’t convinced of Jesus’s guilt. For a Roman governor like Pilate, preventing unrest and rebellion was the top priority. Religious issues like someone claiming to be a Jewish Messiah would have been secondary concerns. But the Gospels say that the chief priests and elders had riled up a crowd against Jesus. And they called for Jesus’s crucifixion. Wanting to diffuse the situation quickly, Pilate relented and handed Jesus over to be crucified.

Why did Jesus have to die for our sins?

Understanding the reasons Jesus was crucified from a legal perspective is helpful. But it still doesn’t tell us why God would send his only Son to earth to suffer such a painful fate. Why did Jesus actually have to die for us? To answer that question, we have to rewind the story back to the garden of Eden. 

How sin keeps us away from God

Ever since Adam and Eve turned their backs on God in the garden of Eden, human beings have been corrupted by sin. We ignore what God wants because we’d rather do what we want. We set our hearts on accumulating power and wealth for ourselves, and we don’t take good care of what God gives us. We are too darkened by our sin to find our way back to God on our own. And God’s justice requires that there be a price for our sin.

Yet despite our flaws, God loves us and wants us to be reunited with him. Jesus, God’s Son, came to earth to make our reconciliation with God possible.

How Jesus reunites us with God through his sacrifice

In Old Testament times, the people of Israel followed a system of sacrifices in order to pay the debt for their sins. God’s laws determined what types of sacrifices were required in order to atone for different sins. Most living sacrifices were to be perfect animals without blemish.

In the New Testament, Jesus, God’s Son, came to earth to reunite us with God through the ultimate sacrifice: his own life.

We could never a life worthy of God on our own. So Jesus lived a life without sin on our behalf. And then he died the painful death our sins deserve. John 3:17 says, “God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” By sacrificing himself for us on the cross, he took the punishment for all of our sins at once. This made him the ultimate sacrifice —once and for all satisfying the demands God’s justice required. That is why we call Jesus “Lamb of God.”

In the sacrifice of Jesus’s crucifixion we are shown the depths of God’s love for us and the lengths taken to save us from our sins. And in Jesus’s resurrection we see God’s triumph over death, pointing toward the promise of eternal life in God’s presence.

The unmatched power of God's grace

Because of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, our lives will never be the same. This gift that we have been given can never be taken away from us,it will never lose its power, and it will never cease to exist. New life in Christ is the best gift we can ever receive!