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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Why did Jesus Christ die?

The answer to why Christ died can be answered from several different perspectives. For what purpose did Christ die would be one of those perspectives. “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,” 1 Cor. 15:3. Paul mentions in the above passage that Christ died “according to the Scriptures…” This means that Christ’s sacrifice was prophesied throughout the Old Testament. The first reference, as vague as it is, is found in Genesis 3:15 where it reads, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” The serpent (Satan) will strike or bruise the heel of the woman’s offspring (Christ). Yet, Christ will crush the head of Satan. This passage alludes to the fact that Satan will attack Christ thinking he has annihilated him. But Jesus Christ’s victory over death means he has “crushed” the head of Satan. “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 1 Cor. 15:55. Christ’s death and resurrection has made Satan powerless in the life of the believer. We are given a prophetic account of Christ’s death in the 53rd chapter of Isaiah. “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are heeled.” Isaiah 53:5.

Paul’s letter to the Church in Rome thoroughly covers the necessity for Christ’s death and resurrection. God has a standard by which he pronounces his requirements of mankind. It is called the Law. If anyone would desire to be found acceptable to God, one way is to be obedient to that law. “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matt. 5:48. However, we are faced with a tragic fact. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23. Paul also adds, “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.” Romans 3:20. But then Paul begins to reveal the reason for Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” Romans 3:21-22a. God’s law handed down to Moses required animal sacrifice as a means of atoning for Israel’s sin. The writer of Hebrews explained that, “The law is only a shadow of the good things to come- not the realities themselves.” Heb. 10:1. He then adds, “because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” Heb. 10:4. Jesus Christ, our High Priest, died as the “sacrificial lamb” to take away the sins of the world once and for all. His sacrifice for sins accomplished much on our behalf. All of these accomplishments can be wrapped up in this one declarative statement: We get God back.

Although Christ’s sacrifice was prophesied in Scripture and fulfills God’s plan for redeeming mankind, there is a second reason Jesus Christ died. Sinful men put Jesus upon that cross. Jesus claimed equality with God. His message and the claims he made about himself threatened the power controlled by the hierarchy of Judaism and perhaps the authority of Rome. Before we point the finger of judgment upon those who brought about Jesus Christ’s death, we must realize that three fingers are pointing back at us. We put Jesus upon that cross. It was our rebellion. It was our desire to rule our own lives apart from God’s authority that necessitated Christ’s death.

There is a third reason Christ died. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8. God’s love for us, as sinful and as rebellious as we are, sent Jesus to the cross.

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