“Why Did Jesus Have To Die?”
Welcome to “Key to the Kingdom.” My name is Bret McCasland. When Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, it changed the course of history. It gave all people everywhere the opportunity to experience a new life with the Lord; not only now, but for all eternity. It provided a chance to put the past behind us and to embrace the blessings and promises of a full and abundant life. We read about Jesus’ death throughout the Bible. It is prophesied in the Old Testament and retold in the New Testament. The story brings tears to our eyes as we consider the suffering Jesus experienced on our behalf. We may even wonder, did He really have to be put to death? Was there not another way for God to provide hope and salvation? As we study from God’s Word, today, we will focus on just two of the many reasons why Jesus died. All of them are important, but these two are most obvious. As we read several passages of Scripture, we will be reminded of what Jesus’ death means to us. I hope you will join us for the next few minutes. I encourage you now to open your heart and your Bible as we study together the lesson entitled “Why Did Jesus Have To Die?”
Many things happen in this world, which we really do not understand. They don't make much sense and they are hard to explain. And in the midst of all of that confusion, we ask those all too familiar questions; why is there so much pain and suffering in the world, why do the innocent get punished, and why are the guilty set free? And there are a host of other questions that fall into that same category. Well, answers are hard to find, and in many cases they cannot be found. And in a world filled with such confusion, religious or spiritual questions are asked, as well. Why did God allow His one and only Son to be put to death? Why did Someone who lived such a sinless life have to die such a horrible death? And again, for some, answers are hard to find. Some people believe Jesus did not die, but only appeared to be dead. Some believe Jesus never entered into a tomb. Yes, there was a great deal of speculation concerning the death of God's Son. And yet, on the other hand, the Bible offers many reasons why Jesus was put to death. Books have been written identifying a number of different reasons. I came across a book, not long ago, that identified some 50 reasons why Jesus died, according to the Bible. And in part, the answer goes back to one simple thing. The one fact, that seems to rise to the surface, is that people have a sin problem, and we do not have an answer for it. We don't know how to deal with it. We have a problem. We need help. We recognize that we are separated from God because Satan brought sin into this world. And yet, God provided a solution for that sin problem through His Son, Jesus Christ. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah foretold about the coming of a Suffering Servant, who would be Jesus Christ, and He would take care of that sin problem. In Isaiah chapter 53, he wrote about what that
Suffering Servant's death would look like; and his description is found in verses 1 through 3 and also in verses 7 through 9. We won't read that passage, but, in summary form, this is what Isaiah wrote: He would be despised and rejected, oppressed and afflicted. He would be taken away and put to death, even though there was no sin or violence found in Him. Well, that's the description of what would happen to the Suffering Servant, or Jesus. But in the midst of that, in the middle there, in verses 4 through 6, he describes the purpose. He described the reason why Jesus would have to die. Listen to what he wrote. <Surely He took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered Him punished by God, stricken by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.> Well, the reason for why Jesus died are listed there; pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities. The words transgressions and iniquities are just big words for the word sin. Jesus suffered. He died because of our sin. Three things I want us to consider here in this passage. The first one is that a common thought we have today is that sheep are not very smart, and Isaiah referred to the sheep there at the end of that statement. But the truth is sheep are smart, they simply need some guidance. They get sidetracked when they are looking for food. Oftentimes a sheep will wander away from the flock and they'll have their head down looking for something that's a little bit better than what they currently are able to eat. They think that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, perhaps. Well, they might travel down to the stream of water and get into the water and the stream carries them away. Oh, they just need some guidance, and that was the role of the shepherd. Shepherds were very common in the day of Isaiah, and even in the day of Jesus. The shepherds were entrusted with the task of taking care of the sheep, and that was important. It was the livelihood for the village. And the sheep were very important, not only for food but also for the clothing. The wool was used for clothing. And the shepherd would guide those sheep and make sure they stayed together. And if one would wander away, then his task was to go and find that lost lamb and bring it back, to guide them where they needed to go and in what they needed to be doing; and that was very important. Well, the point that Isaiah makes is that we sometimes are like that. We are sheep without a shepherd. We go astray and we need someone to guide us and to bring us back home when we get lost. And we wander away because we pursue our own interests and our own desires; we think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. The second thing I want us to notice, in the passage, is Isaiah’s statement to that Suffering Servant dying upon a cross, how He was afflicted and oppressed and rejected. Perhaps we have all seen pictures of a person representing Jesus dying upon that cross, and we're familiar with those pictures. Obviously, they were not taken when the actual event took place, there was no such thing. But we see those pictures and the blood is dripping from the hands and the feet and the side, where the sword went in, and even around His head, as that crown of thorns was pressed deep into His flesh. And we think about that blood that Jesus shed on the cross for us; and indeed, that's good that we remember, we reflect on it. I've got to believe, however, that after Jesus died and was taken down from the cross and put into the tomb, the blood quit flowing and scabs covered over that wound. And after His resurrection, no doubt the scabs would come off and the scars remained. As much as we think about the blood that Jesus shed, we also need to consider the scars. We recognize the scars are the reminders of what Jesus did for us. The third thing that Isaiah points out is that sin brought about Jesus’ death. Oh, that was not His sin. Jesus, as Isaiah prophesied, was a sinless One. He committed no sin. But the sin He bore with Him on the cross is your sin and my sin, the sin of this world. And we recognize that sin destroys our relationship with God. It separates us from Him. But what Jesus did, He closed the gap. When He died, He provided a solution; and through that, we now can no longer be separated from God, but reconciled back to Him. The apostle Paul wrote a letter to some people living in Ephesus. They were Christians, they were believers, and he reminds them, in the second chapter, of what their life was like before they received that sacrifice of sin. In chapter 2, verse 12, we find what I believe to be the saddest, most disheartening passage in all of the Bible. For in that one verse Paul identifies five things that characterize someone who has not received and accepted what Jesus has done for him or for her. Listen closely to what Paul wrote in chapter 2, beginning in verse 12. <Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in this world.> In five ways, Paul describes the spiritual condition of those who are outside of Jesus Christ. They are separated, excluded, foreigners, without hope, without God. It cannot get any worse for someone who has not received the forgiveness of sin in their life. Think about what it means to be a foreigner in another country; no rights, no privileges. And what about being excluded from citizenship from God's family, on the outside looking in? We all live with hope, don't we? We hope for better health and for better weather, and a number of other things. But, what if we had no hope of eternal life, because we are without God in this world? Yes, how depressing, how disheartening this passage is to all who have yet to receive the forgiveness of sin that Jesus provided. And that was the condition of these people, before they became what we call Christians. Their sin had been forgiven, but they had not accepted it. I think about our lives today. We might live a good life. We might think about other people. We might give and help our friends and our neighbors and are loyal to our family members. We might live a life that is ethically and morally good and right, and we follow the laws of the land; and all of those are good things. But if we have not received what Jesus has done for us then we are like the people in Ephesus, in verse twelve, before they receive that salvation. We're on the outside looking in. And Paul states that in two different ways, two passages in the letter of Romans, in chapter 3, verse 23, and also chapter 6, verse 23, where he writes, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God;” and, “The wages of sin is death.” Well, Jesus died for that very reason. He eliminated the sting of death. He overcame the power of sin, according to 1st Corinthians chapter 15. And so one reason why Jesus died was to eliminate our sin problem. Well, a second reason why Jesus died was to bring us into a new relationship with God. Listen to these words from 1st Peter 3, verses 18: <Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body, but made alive in the Spirit.> Very plainly, Paul states, Jesus died to bring us to God, to bring us back to God, to be reconciled to God, because sin has separated us from Him. But that's why Jesus died, so that we would no longer have to be separated. Have you ever been separated from a loved one, a child, a parent, perhaps a spouse? Oh, not for just a few days, but for several months, perhaps even years. That's hard, isn't it? It's hard to be separated from those we love and we long to be reconciled. We long to share a life with that person once again, and to enjoy each other's fellowship and partnership. That's the way it is with God. Sin has separated us from Him, but He allowed His Son to die so that we could be back into fellowship with God and He with us. And that is the point that Peter is making, here in the third chapter. A moment ago, we read one verse from Ephesians chapter 2, that was verse 12, and it described the condition of those people before they received Jesus’ sacrifice. But then Paul makes a contrast in the next verse, 13 down through verse 18. Lets read that passage. <But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He, Himself, is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in His flesh the Law, with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which He put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of His household.> At one time we were separated from God, but now, through Jesus’ death, we have been brought near to God. And Paul describes that in several different ways. He refers to that barrier or that dividing wall of hostility. It has been broken down and removed. And, no longer is there separation between male and female and Jews and gentiles; all have the opportunity to have access to God and be reconciled to Him. We are fellow citizens with God's people; we are members of His family. And that's a great contrast from what Paul wrote in verse 12, verse 12’s negative. These six verses are positive, as they list so many blessings and privileges and promises that belong to those who belong to God. You know, Jesus’ death not only solves our sin problem, but brings us back into that relationship with the Father. You know, there may be some who believe Jesus’ death on the cross was not necessary; yet, these passages tell us otherwise. And no doubt, Jesus’ death was very painful. It was an extremely cruel way to die. But it demonstrated the pain and the agony that both Jesus and the Father were willing to suffer in order for us to be free from sin and to be right with God. Here's another passage from 1st Peter. This one is found in chapter 2, verse 24: <“He, Himself, bore our sins” in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness; “by His wounds we have been healed.”> Well, that reminds us of the words from Isaiah chapter 53. In fact, Peter, lifts them from that 53rd chapter; that the fatal wounds Jesus received when He died bring healing to our sinful lives, and His scars that remain are reminders of that ultimate sacrifice that He made. When He died on the cross, He provided a way for us to be reconciled to our Heavenly Father. Oh, there are other passages in the Bible that tell us why Jesus died. For example, we know that He died to fulfill Old Testament Scriptures, 1st Corinthians chapter 15, verse 3. He also died to become the ultimate sacrifice for us. We find that in Hebrews chapter 9. So many people in the day of Isaiah, even in the day of Jesus, had to make animal sacrifices upon an altar in order to please God, at least for a period of time. And the aroma of that fat being burned and the blood of the animal that was shed pleased God. But with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, all of those sacrifices are done away with; there is not a need for them any longer. You know, the focus of the Gospel message is that Jesus took our sins with Him to the cross. He took on the punishment we deserved, and He paid a debt that we can never repay. Jesus did that for us! Oh, the words of Isaiah, the words of Peter, tell us basically the same thing; 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 healed. As the sinless Son of God, Jesus did the unthinkable: He died so that we might live. It was something that He did not look forward to doing. Jesus did not want to go through that horrible death, the humiliation, the pain, the suffering of dying on a cross. He even prayed, the night before He died, for another solution. He asked His Father to remove that cup of suffering from Him. And yet in that same prayer, He also said it's not My will, but Your will that needs to be done. And that was His Father's will. And when He died, He provided that opportunity for our sin to be forgiven. It was God's greatest gift. Oh, He was not mad at His Son; Jesus was not disobedient to His Father. But what happened was that God demonstrated His great love for us by offering His very best, His one and His only Son. You know, perhaps there is no better way for us to end our message today than by looking again at those most familiar and often quoted words, from John chapter 3 and verse 16. <For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.> That is good news, isn't it! We live with enough condemnation already, and so Jesus didn't come to condemn us any further, but to save us and to demonstrate His Father's love. And through our belief in Him, sin no longer condemns us. We experience that salvation. We experience the forgiveness of sin. We are reconciled back to our loving Heavenly Father and enjoy fellowship with Him once again. I hope and I pray, today, that your relationship with God is what you want it to be and what God wants it to be. I pray that you have accepted what Jesus has done for you, and that your sin is forgiven, and that you are able to be reconciled to your loving, Heavenly Father and enjoy all the blessings and promises that belong to you as one of His children.
After Jesus died on the cross, two of His friends took down His body and prepared it for burial. They then placed it into a tomb, which had never before been used. When we come to a cemetery like this one, perhaps we are reminded of Jesus’ death and burial. Obviously, that tomb in which Jesus was buried was unlike what we have here today; but still, we might think about what Jesus experienced. He was rejected by so many people. They refused to believe that He was the Son of God, and they rejected His message. They then persecuted and beat Jesus in a very extreme way, and He was put up on that cross where He suffered and died a very painful and humiliating death. In the midst of all of that, however, we might ask the question, “Well, why did Jesus have to die in the first place?” Well, God was not mad at His Son. He did not lash out at Him in anger and force all of that. But Jesus died to show God's love for you and me, and we are indeed loved by God. He loves us more than we will ever know. He sees us. He takes care of us. He provides for us. And the greatest truth that I or anyone else could ever share with you is this: God loves you. He always has and He always will; and we know that because of the great sacrifice He made by allowing His one and only Son to die for us. I hope you are enjoying God's love in your life today.
Jesus’ death on the cross was indeed cruel and painful. It is hard to imagine what He experienced so we could receive the forgiveness of sin and be right with God. And yet we can be thankful He obeyed His Father's will so we could be a part of His eternal kingdom. This lesson, entitled “Why Did Jesus Have To Die?,” is on our website. You can find it at keytothekingdom.com. It is easy to download in audio, written, and video formats. Many other lessons are there, as well, and all of them are free from any charge and obligation. Several other resources can also be found on our website. One minute devotional thoughts are there, which offer a Bible passage and thought for the day. Two minute videos provide a practical application of God's Word. Additional information about this ministry is also available. I hope you will find something that will be useful as you seek to grow in your daily walk with the Lord. Other ways to access this ministry include Roku® Television, a free app for smart-phones, and through our page on Facebook®. I encourage you to use any of these media tools, which might be of interest. Every week, lessons from the Bible are broadcast on this channel, and it is our pleasure to do so. I hope you will join us again next week as we study another lesson on “Key to the Kingdom.”