Was it Necessary for Christ to Die?
Note…Amazon affiliate links may be used throughout this post. If you click on a link and buy a book, I receive a small portion of the proceeds at no additional cost to you. Thank you!
I closed my eyes throughout most of the movie. Is it over yet? I kept thinking. Why? This is too awful! Why did he have to suffer so much?
Jesus’s death, as portrayed in The Passion of the Christ, had my mind going to uncomfortable places, confronting me with a reality that hurt. It was only a movie, but what Christ did for me, and for you, was illustrated so vividly, that even from the comfort of dark theater, it was almost more than I could handle.
Yes, what I saw was a movie: it was something I could turn off or walk away from, but it was also more than that. It was based on truths we can read about in the Bible. The whole truth, if we were actually able to go back in time, to see, to smell, to feel, and to hear what happened that day when Jesus died, was undoubtedly far worse.
God, in his perfect love, chose to become man: to live, to die, and to rise from his grave so that we could be forgiven and reconciled to him.
It really happened. And sometimes, we need to “go there”. We need to allow ourselves to sit with the sadness of this reality, to soak it in and let it speak to us. We can’t begin to understand the depth of God’s love for us or to grasp what he saved us from, until we start to appreciate the atonement.
The atonement, according to Dr. Wayne Grudem (Systematic Theology, p.568), means,
The work Christ did in his life and death to earn our salvation.
· What was the cause of the atonement?
· Why was it necessary?
· What was the nature of the atonement?
God is characterized in Scripture as someone who is the ultimate summation of both love and justice. It’s his love and justice that is the ultimate cause of Jesus coming to earth to live and die for our sins.
God’s love for the world is why he gave his son.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16) ESV
The justice of God required a penalty for our sins- and Jesus took the penalty in our place
“whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed,” (Romans 3:25) NKJV
Why was it necessary for Christ to live and die on earth?
God did not have to save us at all. He chose to save us in his great love for us. In that choice, however, there was no other way for God to do this than to sacrifice his own Son, Jesus.
Jesus had to live a perfect life of obedience.
“Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” (Hebrews 2:17) ESV
Jesus had to die for our sins.
“For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” (Hebrews 10:4) ESV
The Nature of the Atonement
o Jesus’s life of perfect obedience is counted for us.
o Jesus’s suffering paid the penalty for our sin.
o Life of suffering
o Physical pain and death on the cross
o Pain of bearing sin
o Abandonment: his heavenly Father, being holy, could not behold the evil that Jesus took on, in our place.
o Jesus bore the Wrath of God against sin
According to Dr. Wayne Grudem, in Systematic Theology, (p. 579-580)
Jesus’s death met these four needs that we have as sinners:
1. We deserve to die as the penalty for sin. (Romans 3:23)
2. We deserve to bear God’s wrath against sin.
3. We are separated from God by our sins.
4. We are in bondage to sin and to the kingdom of Satan.
Christ’s atonement met all of these needs:
He sacrificed himself, he removed us from the wrath of God by taking it in our place, he reconciled us to his Father, and he redeemed us from bondage to sin by being our ransom.
Why does it Matter to Us?
Our sins are paid for. There is nothing else we need to do. Jesus already did everything. Our eternal standing before God has been secured. Our role is simply to accept this gift of grace and to respond in love, through obedience to God.
What should these truths cause us to do?
Give God your whole heart and trust him.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) ESV
“Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.”
–Isaac Watts, 1707, (When I Survey the Wondrous Cross)
Father God, thank you for your amazing love. Thank you, Jesus, for your life of obedience, so that I can be called righteous, in your name. Thank you for your death, so that my sins are forgiven and I can be with you, the Father, and the Holy Spirit for eternity. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for making these truths real to me, for teaching me and guiding me.
In Jesus’s precious name I pray, Amen.
Join us as we take a clear and practical look at some of the most basic and essential tenants of the Christian life – the doctrines of the faith.
Each week, we will highlight and explain a core doctrine. Then, we will pose the question, “Why does this matter to you and me?”
You can catch all of this year’s “Delight in Doctrine” posts by clicking HERE.
For the purposes of the study, our main texts will be first, the Bible, of course, and Wayne Grudem’s classic, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine.
It is our prayer that by the end of 2017, we will all find more delight in understanding what we believe and why we believe it.
“…And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27 (ESV)
Linking up with Deb Wolf at #faithandfriends (Friday), #GraceandTruth (Friday), Holly Gerth at #coffeeforyourheart (Wednesday), Susanne Eller at #livefreeThursday, Carmen at #salt&light (Thursday), Kelly at #RaRalinkup (Tuesday), and Lori at #Momentsofhope (Monday)