Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Why Did Jesus Come to Die?

     As a kid, I remember asking my dad why God had to come to die in order to take the punishment for our sins when He wrote the rules for what the punishment for sin was going to be. His response was that that was just how God did it (probably in part because I was too young to understand any more complex answer), but then, as now, "just because" is an answer I hate. I want a reason for why a rule is in place or a belief is taught. In this case, I wasn't satisfied with God wrote the rules that way "just because".

     Think about it for a moment if you never have. Why did Jesus come to die? Well, to take the punishment for our sin and to make us righteous. But why did He have to die that way in order to do that? Because the Bible says only with the shedding of blood is there forgiveness of sins (Heb. 9:21). Generally, that is where the conversation stops, even in church circles. But that was never enough for me. Because quite literally, God wrote the rules. If God had said it took four yellow petunias offered while standing on your head in Denver on April 5 to forgive sins, He could have. So because God wrote the rules, there should be one more why in our line of questioning: why did God make it that way?

     I remember asking my dad that, and again, the answer was "He just did", which was probably as much as my young intellect could handle at the time. But I think it's a valid question. Why did God write the rules that way? The way it's taught far too often in our churches and our VBS's, God is the cosmic victim of His own system. Before you start taking issue with that, think of how often you've heard it said this way.

    "Adam and Eve sinned, so they had to die, because sin brings death. (Again, did none of us ever wonder why God designed the world in such a way that sin would enter it and thus bring death when he could have left the tree of the knowledge of good and evil out of the garden and thus left the world without it?) So in order for them to become right with Him, God had to send someone perfect (again, God's rule) to die (also God's rule). The only perfect one was Jesus, so Jesus came to die for us..."

     But do you see what we just did? God just became the victim of His own rule system. God builds a system, man screws it up, and because God loves us so much, He becomes the victim of the system in order to save us. Poor God. The rules were against Him, so He had to find a loophole in order to save us.

    That idea (and thus what is far too commonly taught) is utterly nonsensical in that it leaves out God's complete omniscience, to say nothing of His sovereignty. If God in distant time past knew Adam and Eve would sin, why did He make the rules so hard? Why did He draw such a rigorously high standard someone had to fulfill? Why did it have to be blood and death? Could it be like... saliva? Or, I don't know, your right pinkie finger? He wrote the rules, so why make it so chillingly agonizing?

     If you've never thought about this before, take a second before reading further and think about it. God wrote the rules that drove Him to the cross. He is the One who instituted that blood had to be shed. This wasn't a cosmic rule somewhere that God had to conform to; God came up with the rules, rules that would ultimately result in a tortuous death of His Son, and He knew it when He wrote them. Why? Think of your answer in your head, because I could only think of one.

     He did so, in my opinion and if you have an alternate one, please leave a comment and let me know, in order to make plain, obvious, and irrefutable the vastness of His love for His creation. He could have forgiven our sins with a word, right? He's all-powerful! But no, He didn't. He chose to become the greatest, most brutal picture ever. He chose to personify love through His own bloody, gruesome substitution... that He designed from before time.

     Remember when Revelation says that the One who opens the scroll is a "Lamb as though He had been slain"? Jesus is identified as "the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world" in 1 Pet. 1:20. So the death of Jesus Christ is seen and even considered accomplished before the creation of the world. Clearly, Jesus' death is not God's secondary plan in response to man's screwing up his initial Plan A. The death of Jesus was in fact God's initial plan, the culmination of the system He brought into being.

     Rather than forgive us through words or our own deeds or anything else, God chose to forgive us through His own sacrifice and in so doing, show us beyond a shadow of a doubt His enormous, individual love for His creation. This was not His secondary plan or his reaction to mankind's failure, but His original plan from the beginning of time. He would create a race who would become hopelessly separated from Himself... in order to give Himself as the greatest sacrifice and greatest symbol of love the world has ever seen or will ever see.

     When you look at the cross, this is the culmination of eternity past. It's not a knee-jerk reaction to mankind's failure. It was the plan of God to demonstrate undeniable love by saving us through the most brutal, agonizing means possible, showing just how deep and abiding His desire for us was, and glorifying Himself through that. When you see the cross, it's not just ordinary love. It is quite literally the greatest love the world has or ever will see. And if we are partakers in that cross, then we are beneficiaries of that love.


  1. Nice Taylor! I myself, also wondered when I was young, Why did Jesus have to die? Why did he have to suffer so? And why did He have to die in the brutal manner that He did? In addition to what you said, "in order to make plain, obvious, and irrefutable the vastness of His love for His creation," I think the suffering He endured, and even the way He died - on the cross - illustrates and proves to all of mankind that He was certainly "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief," as it reads in Isaiah 53. You're able to see that He knows, sees, and understands when you're grieving, hurt, and in pain.

    That chapter of scripture, Isaiah 53, always caught my attention. As a young child I had always read it, yet with no understanding of what or who the passage was about, but one day I read it again, and God revealed it to me. It was one of the best moments of my life; when I saw just how much Christ loved me. It was an AMAZING moment, (sitting there waiting for my violin class to start, back in middle school!)

    Anyway, thanks for writing on this topic. I'll be thinking about it and re-reading Isaiah 53 the whole weekend!! ;)

    1. Great thought, Gabrielle! Thanks for adding that!