Why did Jesus die on the cross?
It’s a profound, sobering question. One that stretches our understanding of God to the limits.
Ponder this staggering truth with me for a moment: God died.
Doesn’t that absolutely blow your mind? The Almighty One, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Author of Life, the One who created all things, died. It’s almost unfathomable.
And it raises one overwhelming question: why?
Why did Jesus die on the cross? Why did he have to endure such unimaginable agony? What could have necessitated such a thing?
Let’s explore this sobering, glorious, heartbreaking, exultant topic a bit more together.
Why Did Jesus Die On The Cross?
Jesus Died To Pay The Penalty For Our Sins
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).
Sin is no small thing. It is cosmic treason. When we sin against God, we are saying that we don’t care about his laws, don’t care about honoring him, and don’t care about his glory. Sin is the ultimate offense to God.
Because God is righteous and just, he absolutely must punish sin. If he were to let a single sin go unpunished, he would be unjust. And so the wages of sin is eternal, soul-crushing death in hell. The wages of sin is eternal separation from God and the unending wrath of God.
But because God is also infinitely rich in mercy and grace, he punished Jesus on the cross for our sins instead of us. God poured out all his furious wrath upon his son. He was punished so that we could receive the righteousness of Jesus.
Isn’t that such good news? The penalty for our sins has been completely and totally paid. We do not have to pay for our sins because Jesus did it for us.
Why did Jesus die on the cross? To pay the terrible penalty for our sins.
Jesus Died On The Cross To Take Away Our Condemnation
Without the sacrifice of Christ, we would be utterly and completely condemned for our sins.
And yet it says in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.“
All our condemnation was poured out on Jesus. He stood before God, the judge of the world, and heard the word, “Guilty,” pronounce over him. That word should be pronounced over us, and yet it was pronounced over Christ.
If you are in Christ, you have absolutely ZERO condemnation from God. Instead, God pours unending, infinite love upon you.
It’s truly breathtaking, isn’t it? Jesus was condemned in our place.
As it says in Romans 8:33-34:
Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
I’m reminded of the classic hymn “Hallelujah, What A Savior“:
Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Why did Jesus die on the cross? To take away all our condemnation. Hallelujah, what a Savior!
Jesus Died To Bring Us Near To God
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ (Ephesians 2:13).
We were once separated from God. Cut off from him because of our sins. We were enemies of God, alienated from his presence, unable to draw near to him. On our own, we could do absolutely nothing to remedy this problem.
And so God gloriously took the initiative.
He sent his son to die in our place, to take away our sins, to bear our condemnation, so that we could be brought near to God. So that we could even be children of God. So that we could have an intimate relationship with God and call him our Father.
In fact, we are so near to God that we are actually united to Christ. We are connected to Christ in a mystical, yet very real way. And nothing can ever separate us from Christ.
Romans 8:38-39 puts it this way:
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
That is absolutely staggering good news. Why did Jesus die on the cross? To bring us near to God.
Jesus Died To Prove How Much He Loves Us
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13).
There is no greater proof that God loves you than Jesus dying for you on the cross. What more could God do to prove his love for you? He gave up his precious, only son in your place.
The Son of God cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” In a very real way, Jesus was cut off from his Father. Why? For you. To save you. To rescue you from your sins.
This is unshakable, unbreakable, unmistakable proof that God loves you with an absolutely unimaginable love. The only reason he was willing to go to such lengths to save you was because of his overwhelming love.
Don’t ever doubt that God loves you. There is no greater love than someone laying his life down for his friends.
Jesus laid his life down for you. Why did Jesus die on the cross? To prove just how much God loves you.
Jesus Died On The Cross To Give Us Eternal Life
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).
Without the death of Jesus on the cross, we would be condemned to eternal death. As we noted above, the wages of sin is indeed death. Hell was our destination.
Until Jesus stepped in and rescued us.
On the cross, the eternal God received in his body the eternal death that we deserved. Only an infinite God could take such a punishment, and take it he did!
But death could not hold him. He is risen from the dead, and now he has the power to give eternal life to all who believe in him.
Now in Christ, we have eternal, everlasting life. Death holds no fear for us, for we know that death is not the end. We will be with Christ forever. This is why Paul could say with complete assurance that to live is Christ and to die is gain.
When we die, we step into the glorious new, everlasting life that Jesus won for us.
Why did Jesus die on the cross? To secure our eternal life. To rescue us from the fear of death. To ensure that we are with him forever.
Why Did Jesus Die On The Cross? Think About These Things
In Philippians 4:8 it says:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Jesus’ death on the cross truly is honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise.
Let’s regularly ponder why Jesus died on the cross. As we do, we’ll find our hearts filled with worship for God.