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Articles

Why Did Jesus Die?

Why Did Jesus Die?

From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” (Matthew 16:21-23)

All men must die—death is an everyday occurrence. Yet, there is something about the death of Jesus which absorbs our attention and fills our hearts with the mixed emotions of sorrow and joy. His death was a voluntary act on His part (John 10:17-18; Matthew 26:53), but why did He die? Even if we often hear or ask that question, we probably don’t often think through the depth of the answer. We need to. We need to think and understand why He died.

He Died to Prove the Promises of God True

Most people would not immediately think of the “why” of the death of Jesus and the promises of God. However, the promises of God are the very foundation of why Jesus died. Think back to one of the very first things we read in regard to what God promises—all the way back to the judgments pronounced upon Adam, Eve, and the serpent. When God addressed the serpent, He said, “I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel” (Genesis 3:15). This promise of the one to come being bruised on the heel is a direct reference to His death. The very same type of promise is made through Isaiah the prophet of God (Isaiah 53:4-12). Jesus died because God’s promises are always true.

He Died to Fulfill Prophetic Types

Jesus’ death wasn’t just revealed in the words of the prophets, it was revealed in prophetic types as well. When we speak of types and antitypes, we are speaking of the things that are primary and the things that are the shadows. The shadows aren’t the “real” thing, but they show us the true. In this regard, He was the antitype of the Paschal lamb shown in Exodus 12. Paul makes this apparent in writing to the Corinthian Christians: “Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed” (1Corinthians 5:7). John the immerser also spoke of the Lamb in regard to Jesus: “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me’” (John 1:29-30).

In another type-antitype instance, we see that He was the antitype of the bronze serpent (Numbers 21:4-9). The bronze serpent lifted on its standard is referenced this way: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life” (John 3:14-15). Jesus died to fulfill these and other wonderful pictures that God has painted for us.

He Died to Reveal God’s Love

Why did God paint such beautiful pictures for us? It is because He loves us—which is in itself another reason that Jesus died. Perhaps the most known Biblical reference in the world is a statement that Jesus made to a Pharisee named Nicodemus: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Though some may misuse and abuse this passage, the teaching of Jesus is true—God does love the world.  Jesus said that the love was so great He would lay down His life (John 15:13). Jesus teaches us that He died for love.

He Died to Establish His Teaching

Jesus not only taught that He died for love, He taught that His death was necessary. He also taught the precise way in which it would occur, even to the point of how many days He would be entombed (John 2:19-22; see also Matthew 16:21; 20:17-28). This established the very point He made to Martha after the death of her brother: “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26). Jesus died, not only as evidence that His teaching was accurate, but because His teaching was to show us that there are consequences for sin.

He Died to Satisfy the Requirement for Our Sins

The Law and Prophets specified death for sin (Ezekiel 18:4). Paul reminds us of that fact also (Romans 6:23). We are guilty of sin. The Psalmist acknowledges that no one is entirely righteous (Psalm 143:2). Solomon also recognized that there is no man who does not sin (1Kings 8:46; Ecclesiastes 7:20). Once again, we find the apostle Paul writing the same thing to Christians (Romans 3:23). We have sinned, therefore, we deserve to suffer eternally. However, Jesus came to satisfy the law [justice] by taking our sins and dying in our place [mercy]. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2Corinthians 5:21). John also addresses this: “And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world” (1John 2:2; see also 1John 4:10). Jesus died so we would not have to remain separated from God.

He Died For Our Reconciliation

When we are not separated from God, this means that are reconciled with Him—that is, our relationship is restored. God’s hand is not short. The death of the Messiah provides the means of reconciliation. “Behold, the LORD’S hand is not so short That it cannot save; Nor is His ear so dull That it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear” (Isaiah 59:1-2). “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2Corinthians 5:18-20).

He Died in Vain …

Jesus died in vain unless we turn and come to the place of reconciliation (Ephesians 2:16; 1Corinthians 12:13). How do you respond to the death of Jesus?

S. Scott Richardson Sr