Why did Jesus have to die?
This week is always my favorite of the year… All Believers are stirred when they consider everything that happened this week in the life of Jesus, beginning with His triumphant entry into Jerusalem for Passover until His triumphant resurrection from the grave on Easter Sunday! We call this week Holy Week for good reason. It is a week that is “set apart” from any other on our calendar. On Friday, Jesus would be sentenced to die by crucifixion. What happened as Jesus made His way to the cross? What was crucifixion like? And why did Jesus have to die?
Clearly, Pilate could find no reason to execute Jesus, despite the religious leader’s insistence. (John 19) Hoping to make the crowd sympathize with Jesus, Pilate had him severely scourged. The beating would have been with a Roman “flagellum”, which was like a whip except with multiple straps woven with sharp bone and metal to inflict maximum pain. Jesus' back would have been torn to shreds. (Is. 53:5) But after His scourging, the leaders and the crowd standing before Pilate were not satisfied; they wanted Jesus crucified! So Pilate reluctantly relented.
Jesus was led away to be crucified, all the while carrying His own cross, which was akin to digging His own grave. Can you imagine the anguish and pain He was in? When He finally made it to Golgatha, where He would be crucified, Jesus’ hands were spread wide and nailed to the cross, along with His feet, one on top of the other. When the cross was erected, only the three nails held Him in place. His knees were slightly bent, which gave Him enough leverage to hoist Himself up to breathe. Each time He pushed up to take a breath, His lacerated back would scrape against the rugged cross.
As He hung on the cross, all those watching hurled insults at Him- even the criminals hanging on the crosses beside Him until one had a change of heart and rebuked the crowd and repented of His sin. Jesus promised that man that he would soon be with Him in paradise. (Luke 23:41-43). The great news for us is that it is never too late to invite Christ to save you and receive God’s grace!
You may think you have sinned far too much, failed too many times, hurt so many people that there is no way God would forgive you! This criminal had surely done horrible things to be crucified; yet when he repented, Jesus showed even him great mercy and amazing grace! Jesus can do the same for you, or for those close to you, who don’t yet believe. There is hope for the lost!
After six agonizing, excruciating hours on the cross, Jesus breathed His last breath. The Roman Centurion standing nearby who had witnessed all that had happened proclaimed, “Surely this man was a righteous man… He was the Son of God”. (Luke 23:47; Matthew 27:54). That is a powerful testimony from a highly regarded Roman leader whose heart had been changed! He had no doubt that Jesus was who He claimed to be!
Why did Jesus die on the cross?
Jesus died on the cross so that our sins can be forgiven!
Forgiveness means to wipe the slate clan, to pardon or cancel a debt! When we wrong someone, our relationship with that person is broken. To restore that relationship, we seek their forgiveness. To be clear, forgiveness is not granted because a person deserves to be forgiven; no one really deserves to be forgiven. I’ll bet you can think of plenty of people in your life who have hurt or wronged you who you don’t think deserve your forgiveness.
But forgiveness is not offered because it is entitled or deserved; it is an act of love, mercy, and grace. Forgiveness is a decision to not hold something against another person, despite what they have done to you. Mercy is not giving what is deserved. Grace is receiving what is not deserved.
The Bible tells us that we are all in need of forgiveness from God. We have all wronged God or sinned against Him. Sin means to literally “miss the mark”… and we have all missed the mark, many times. I don’t have to convince you of that. (Ecclesiastes 7:20; 1 John 1:8). We are all desperately in need of God’s forgiveness because the wages of sin is death, or eternal separation from God. (John 3:36; Romans 6:23a). Death is what we deserve because of our sin. But there is good news!
God is loving and merciful – eager to forgive us of our sins! (2 Peter 3:9)
God doesn’t want anyone to perish, including you! He wants to offer you forgiveness; but He expects you to turn from your sin and head in the other direction. That is what it means to “repent.”
In God’s perfect plan, He became a human being, Jesus Christ. And Jesus died on the cross to take the penalty we all deserve - death. 23 …but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23b. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21
When Jesus died on the cross, He took the punishment for us. He endured what we deserved for our sin! His death was horrid and ugly and gruesome because sin is horrid and ugly and gruesome. It separates us from a Holy God and deserves the penalty of death…eternal separation from God; but Jesus took our penalty for us.
Do you want to have your sins forgiven?
Forgiveness of your sins is available if you will place your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace. Ephesians 1:7
For much more, please click here to listen to Easter Eyewitness - Part 4 - The Roman Soldiers.