Why did Jesus die?
Did he die to pay for sins? absolutely. I assert wholeheartedly the doctrine of the substitutionary atonement | he who knew no sin became sin for us – the just for the unjust. He bare my sins in his own body on the tree.
Above, I alluded to some of my favorite texts on the atonement (2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 3:18; 2:24). However, let’s look at the substitutionary atonement from a larger biblical context. I believe that God’s plan throughout the ages pinnacles at the life of Christ, specifically the cross.
Go with me to a scene at Eden. In the form of a serpent, Satan himself tempts the woman to eat from the tree. She knows that God commanded that she not eat, but yet she is deceived and she eats; her husband eats.
Sinners, broken covenant.
However, God’s plan overcomes the failure of the woman and her husband. He places a blood feud between the serpent and the woman and between their offspring (Genesis 3:15). The head of the serpent will be bruised by the seed; the seed’s heel will be bruised by the serpent.
The woman probably believed that her son, Cain would be the man that would bruise the head of the serpent (Genesis 4:1). Very early in the Old Testament comes this gospel story; man falls, God promises redemption, man awaits that redemption.
The promises from God take on a slightly different form as God gives the law to Moses for his people on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 20-24). God made a covenant with the people; it was cut with blood. In short, the people failed to miserably and broke the law.
God makes a promise to Abraham that in him all the nations of the earth would be blessed. God made a covenant with David that his throne would endure forever (2 Sam. 7:14-16). David sinned; he did what we would expect to ruin the covenant. He didn’t just sleep with another man’s wife; he killed him too.
God makes another promise to the house of Israel and the house of Judah; He promises them a new heart, the law of God written on their hearts, a unique familial relationship, and that through them light will go unto the Gentiles (Jeremiah 31, among many others).
Now follow with me as we jump forward hundreds of years into the New Testament.
Luke 1:69-73, Zacharias, being filled with the Holy Ghost, said this shortly after John the Baptist was born:
And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; The oath which he sware to our father Abraham
Zacharias recognized that God was keeping his covenants to David and to Abraham. That prophet is born – the one which will prepare the way for Messiah.
Now think about the ministry of Christ _
“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up…”
“As Jonah was three days and nights in the belly of whale, so must the Son of man be in the belly of the earth…”
“Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up…” he spoke of the temple of his body…
John, “Behold the lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world…”
Now follow closes as we discuss Luke 9:22-23.
Jesus said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”
The word must is translated from the Greek δει, meaning “it is necessary.” Literally, the verse could be translated, “It is necessary for the Son of Man to suffer…”
In what sense was it necessary that Christ die? Could he have established the kingdom without first suffering? No. Without redeemed and regenerated people, there is no kingdom!
Think about this. Jesus Christ was a descendant of Eve, born of the seed of David (Matthew 1); he lived his life in perfect accordance to the Mosaic law.
Then, the cross.
This is the gospel of Paul (Acts 17:3, uses the same Greek word δει as he teaches that Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead).
This is the gospel of the apostle John.
Revelation 13:8: Jesus was the lamb (the sacrifice for our sins) slain before the foundation of the world.
This is the gospel of Peter
1 Peter 1:18-20: We were redeemed with the blood of Christ, as of a lamb, the one ordained before the foundation of the world.
There is no other gospel. Man has sinned, broken covenant relationships with God. God has worked to restore those relationships, to pay the penalty of sin. The story of the Bible is the substitutionary atonement, God doing for us what we could never do for ourselves.
Jesus paid for my sins | He became sin for me, the just for the unjust – in order that He could bring me to God.
If you are reading this and you need to be forgiven of your sins, if you need the blood of Christ to cleanse you, if you need to be given eternal life, then trust Jesus.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world (that’s you) that He gave his only begotten Son that whosoever (that can be you) believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.