The answer to the question, ‘why did Jesus have to die?’ is a complex one. As a result, the answer can end up getting oversimplified, eventually becoming distorted.
When Jesus died, and then rose again, His disciples started to proclaim a radical message. “The world is changed” they announced.
Jesus Himself said, over and over again; ‘The scriptures have to be fulfilled’. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all said in different ways that Jesus’ death on the cross was the completion of the story told in the Hebrew Bible. That, as unlikely as it seems, Jesus dying on the cross was, in fact, the good news God’s people had been waiting for.
Dive into the significance of this bold message and discover why Jesus has to die on the cross, saving us all, as He did.
Death By Crucifixion: What Does It Mean?
Death by crucifixion was the most humiliating and degrading death the Romans could have put Jesus through.
Crucifixion, where the person was nailed to a wooden cross, was reserved for slaves, foreigners and those with no civil rights.
As Jesus was left to die, hanging on a cross, He was being identified by the Romans as being the very lowest of society. Death by crucifixion was a way of saying: this man is of no significance, he was no power and he is not important.
But, Why Did Jesus Have To Die? Doesn’t That Mean God Is Weak?
It’s tempting to think that Jesus dying on the cross means that God was defeated. Maybe He was simply too weak to overcome the powers of evil in the world. After all, death on the cross was incredibly humiliating, surely this can’t have been God’s plan?
Here’s where one of the foundational truths of the Bible comes in. A truth that is woven through every book from Genesis through to Revelation.
God loves us with an unrestrained, never-ending, incredible love that we can barely comprehend. It has always been His plan to live in intimacy with us. Since the moment we stepped out of intimacy with Him (when Eve chose to take the apple) He has been moving history in order to restore it.
Why Did Jesus Have To Die For My Sins?
Jesus’ death on the cross is, in part, about a form of payment for our sins. But, that is a simplified way of approaching the event. This simplification has led to thinking like: ‘this world is doomed, I just need to do what I need to to make sure I get to heaven.’
When Jesus died on the cross and rose again He was actually fulfilling an ancient plan. This plan was made thousands of year before by God to reconcile this world and all its people to Him.
The crucifixion is actually a promise of God’s increasing presence, power and rule in all the corners of this world.
So yes, Jesus died so that we may live. But also, Jesus died so that God could reconcile this whole world into His kingdom truth again.
An Important Verse About Jesus Dying On The Cross
Romans 8, verses 1-4 contains some of the most important verses about Jesus’ death on the cross:
“There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh”
The sin Paul is describing here is more than just our individual sins. This isn’t just about Jesus making up for our failures. The sin described here is the very presence of evil, the weight of all wrong, in the world. It is the power of darkness.
By saying ‘and so he condemned sin in the flesh’ Paul is explaining that the complete power of darkness and evil was put to death, in Jesus. It was condemned and defeated.
The Complex Now And Not Yet
If Jesus defeated all evil when He died on the cross, then why is there still so much bad in the world? This is where the complexity of the now and not yet comes in.
When Jesus died on the cross He condemned all darkness and announced, loud and clear, the sovereignty and ultimate rule of Heaven across all of the earth. At the same time He made it possible, by wiping our slates clean, for us to be part of God’s kingdom now. Sharing in His goodness, walking with His authority and living out His plans.
But, there is still evil in this world. It is defeated, but it is still throwing punches.
The important thing to remember is that we have all authority, through Jesus, to overcome every evil we face. This is part of the ‘good news’ that the disciples shared. It doesn’t mean we won’t feel the impact of evil grabbing at our heels but we can live knowing we are part of a triumphant kingdom that is constantly expanding.
We get an advance taste, now, of an eternal life with God. This advance taste empowers and enables us to live as Jesus did, now. It is us living with a kingdom perspective that will enact God’s plan to reconcile this world to Him.
So, What Exactly Does Jesus Dying On The Cross Mean For Me?
Jesus’ death on the cross means that your sins are wiped away and you have been made clean. This makes it possible for you to live, for all eternity, with God in heaven.
Jesus’ death on the cross also means that you have the ability, today, to change the world around you. Empowered by the Holy Spirit you can have a radical impact on the people in your life. You can transform organisations, structures and policies.
We can show people love, kindness and generosity because we live in a limitless kingdom now. From healing sicknesses to restoring relationships, Jesus’ death on the cross enables us to be forces of good, here and now, changing the world in His Name.
Photos by stein egil liland