Written Word

The Need for the Death of Jesus

From the announcement of his conception, the mission of Jesus was linked to our spiritual recovery. The angel told Joseph that the child Mary was carrying was conceived by the Holy Spirit. The child was to be named Jesus “because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21) This redemptive theme was echoed throughout the ministry of our Lord. He said that he had come “to seek and to save what was lost” and “to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Luke 19:10; Matthew 20:28)

Our Spiritual Condition

The Bible describes us as being lost, separated from God and unable to save ourselves. Ours is a hopeless condition indeed. Yet God wants to save us. The dilemma that faced God was this: How can he forgive our sins and also carry out the justice that his law demands for violators? God cannot ignore the fact that we have broken his holy law and that carries a severe penalty.

In Jesus Christ, the Father found One whose death would fully satisfy the demands of justice, thereby enabling him to forgive our sins. This is how the apostle Paul expresses the thought:

“God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:25,26)

The Need For The Cross

The cross of Christ vindicates God. It shows God to be just in that he did what his own law demanded. He is also the one who justifies/pardons all those who have faith in Jesus.

God has never been short of sacrifices. Rivers of blood flowed from Israel’s altars, yet they were unable to satisfy God’s justice. Martyrs too numerous to mention gave their lives sacrificially in the service of the Lord, yet not even their deaths could satisfy God.

Father Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish Franciscan priest, caught the attention of the world’s press when his noble deed became known. He was a prisoner in Auschwitz concentration camp. When Kolbe heard that a married man with a family had been selected for execution, he volunteered to take this man’s place. Kolbe became a substitute so that another man might live.

On Good Friday Jesus became our substitute when he took our sins upon himself: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree.” (1 Peter 2:24)

The debt incurred by our sins could only be paid by an adequate sacrifice offered on our behalf. Though two other men died along with Jesus on that Good Friday, only his death was able to cancel our debt. Peter captures the concept of Christ being our substitute and Saviour in these words: “Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” (1 Peter 3:18)

In a crucified Christ we see the following: the love of God, the wisdom of God, the justice of God and a perfect sacrifice who has made forgiveness possible.