Jesus died to satisfy God the Father’s wrath against the sin of mankind. Jesus’ death also demonstrates God’s great love for the people He created. Jesus’ death is a fulfillment of scripture and the only way for man to be reconciled to the Creator.
Why did Jesus have to die? It is one of the most important questions you will ever ask. He was tried, crucified, and dead around the age of 34. Without an understanding of The Bible, Jesus’ death on the cross seems like a dramatic and gory historical event. But Jesus (God in the flesh) came to die for an extraordinary reason. Let’s take a look at two key truths surrounding Jesus’ death and what it means for you today.
Jesus Died to Reconcile Mankind to God
Here is a very brief overview of the purpose and plan of Jesus’ death in reuniting us with God the Father, our Creator.
Sin – Man’s Rebellion Against a Holy God
In the beginning, God created everything, including mankind (Gen 1:27). He gave man a physical body and a spirit (or soul). The first two people were Adam and Eve. God delighted in them and spent time with them—they shared a beautiful and harmonious relationship. It was very good. Some wonder how tall they were and what language they spoke, but was was important is that they lived in close communion with God Himself.
Then one day Adam and Eve gave into temptation and disobeyed a specific rule God had given them—they ate the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Gen 3:6-7). Sin, which is rebellion against God, entered the world and corrupted God’s perfect design. Every person to be born from that moment on would carry Adam and Eve’s sin in the core of their being, their very nature would be sinful (Rom 5:12).
- Isaiah 53:6 (ESV) All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way
- Romans 3:23 (ESV) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
God is so perfect and holy that He cannot tolerate sin (Psalm 5:4). His perfect and holy response to sin is righteous anger and wrath (Rom 1:18)! Sin severed His pure, untainted relationship with his children.
But God, rich in love and mercy, had a plan. In Gen 3:15, He promised that a man would come who would conquer sin and destroy evil (crush the head of Satan). It would be about 2000 years before this prophecy was fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ.
Death – A Merciful God’s Punishment for Sin
In the same way that a good and upright judge must not let a criminal go free, a holy God must punish rebellion against Himself. The punishment for sin is death. Not only physical death but spiritual death too.
Romans 6:23a (ESV) For the wages of sin is death
The day that sin entered the world, death entered too. Adam and Eve, their innocence corrupted, were ashamed of their nakedness. God, in His mercy, clothed them in animal skins—the first physical death (Gen 3:21) as he banished them from the garden.
Through an animal sacrifice system (Ex 29:10-14), mercifully provided by God in The Old Testament, God’s people, the Jews, were able to repeatedly receive forgiveness for their sins. The person’s sin was “transferred” to an unblemished, spotless animal which was then killed on the altar.
The animal sacrifices didn’t remove the sinful nature of man but they did temporarily satisfy God’s punishment of death. His presence, though veiled, could dwell with them as a result.
Jesus – The Promised and Perfect Sacrifice
God keeps His promises. The only man capable of crushing the head of Satan was God incarnate, God in the form of a man. Jesus Christ (God the Son), who always existed, humbled Himself and came to Earth (Phil 2:5-8). He lived a human life facing fear, pain, and loss. He also experienced some of the same common graces we enjoy, like friendship, the colors of creation, and good food.
He was born, fully man, fully God. He lived a perfect, sinless life and died on the cross He carried in the place of sinful man. He died on Golgotha in the ninth hour of the day. Bearing the sins of all the world (Jews and Gentiles), God’s wrath was poured out on Jesus. The perfect, spotless lamb of God was killed to satisfy God’s punishment for sin once and for all to reconcile mankind to God.
- John 1:29 (ESV) The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
- 2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV) For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
How do we know that Jesus’ death was enough to satisfy the wrath of God? His resurrection! Jesus didn’t stay dead! He rose again on the third day—because of this, we know that He fully conquered sin and death. He reversed the evil that was done in the garden! We can have hope of eternal life with God. What joy!
And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.Hebrews 10:11-12 (ESV)
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.John 3:36 (ESV)
For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.1 Corinthians 15:22 (ESV)
Jesus Died to Show Us God’s Great Love
God’s rescue plan for mankind was motivated by His great love. A love that defines His very nature. In fact, every aspect of God’s character is rooted in love (1 John 4:8)—from his mercy and compassion to His righteous anger.
Jesus, who is God, left the glory of Heaven, became a helpless babe, was baptized at thirty, lived a life of rejection, faced an unfair trial, received a number of lashes, bore our sins on the cross, and received the full wrath of The Father. It all paints a love story so huge, we can barely understand it.
- John 3:16 (ESV): “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
- Romans 5:8 (ESV): “…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
- 1 John 4:9 (ESV) “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.”
Jesus’ death on the cross was God’s love on display.
The Right Response to Jesus’ Death (and Resurrection)
Beloved, Jesus died for YOUR sins on the cross—the sin that separates you from your Heavenly Father. There is nothing you can do to save yourself when you are spiritually dead in your sin.
To receive this free gift of salvation you need to:
- Acknowledge that you are a sinner
- Confess your sin to God
- Believe that Jesus’ death and resurrection are sufficient to save you from God’s punishment—an eternity separated from God
- Surrender your life to Jesus’ Lordship and be united to Christ—you have received a new life, a new calling, and you are not your own anymore (1 Cor 6:20)
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.1 John 1:9 (ESV)
Roman 10:9 (ESV) If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Eph 2:8-9 (ESV) For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
If you’re already following Jesus, but struggling to draw near, know that He also died to leave us with the Holy Spirit – a helper and comforter. And more: He’s coming back – probably not with a tattoo, but definitely in power. Lean into Him.