Why Jesus Had to Die

“…they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings…This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you. Then likewise he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry. And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.”  (Genesis 3:7; Hebrews 9:20-22) 

Why Jesus Had to Die

Short Version:

  • Genesis 1:26-28 God’s creation of humankind had the purpose of fellowship and friendship.
  • Genesis 2:16-17 God, creator and supreme ruler of every created thing, commands obedience.
  • Genesis 2:17 God decrees the penalty for disobedience. The penalty is death!
  • Genesis 3:6 All of humanity fell under the curse of the penalty of death when Adam and Eve disobeyed God.
  • Genesis 3:7-8 Humankind has continued to persist to try to hide their sin, covering themselves with blame, excuse, and self-rightness,  trying to make themselves appear “right”.
    • How are people wearing fig leaves today? The devout Muslim kneels on his prayer mat toward Mecca and prays 5 times a day. The Jew works hard to keep God’s Law. The Mormon marries in the temple, tithes, and keeps the rules of his religion. The Catholic goes to confession, does his penance, and takes holy communion. And the ignorant Protestant, seeks acceptance with God by going to church, reading his Bible, getting baptized, and living a moral life. They are all wearing fig leaves!
  • Humankind is incapable of making themselves “right”, no matter how hard they work to justify themselves both in the eyes of each other and in the eyes of God. Men can fool men; but no man fools God. God’s love for humankind did not end when Adam and Eve disobeyed. In fact, so great was God’s love that He’d planned before the foundations of the earth for the event of their disobedience (1 Peter 1:19-20).
  • Genesis 3:21 It was in the paradise that was the Garden of Eden where God’s LOVE and God’s JUSTNESS collided in an act of GRACE that forever set the stage for humanities reconciliation into fellowship and friendship with God. The death penalty earned by Adam and Eve was paid for by God’s choosing of an innocent victim who would take the place of Adam and Eve, whose blood would be shed so that the disobedience of Adam and Eve was covered in the ONLY manner acceptable by God. It is written that, without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

Jesus Christ had to die because God declared that the penalty for sin was death. God, before the creation of the earth, put into place His only acceptable way by which every man condemned to death because of an act of disobedience against God can be saved and reconciled by the substitutionary death of an innocent victim. “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin.” (Romans 4:7-8)

——————-    Digging Deeper into why Jesus had to die ———————–

This lesson began way back in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve had sinned against God and their response was to try, in their own way, to cover their sinful condition and return to rightness before God. Centuries later, the prophet Ezekiel would, under Holy Spirit inspiration, put into words the futility of Adam and Eves efforts:

“…he trusts in his own righteousness and commits iniquity, none of his righteous works shall be remembered…” Ezekiel 33:13

It happens to be the Christian celebration of “Maundy Thursday” and I awaken to thoughts of events 2000 years ago, the events leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and His subsequent resurrection. This day, Maundy Thursday,  commemorates the events of the day of the Last Supper of Jesus with the Apostles. Most scholars agree that the English word Maundy in that name for the day is derived through Middle English, and Old French mandé, from the Latin mandatum, the first word of the phrase “Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos” (Translated means:“A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you”). This was Jesus’ instruction to the Apostles in the gospel of John in explanation of the significance to His actions in washing their feet.

The Book of Leviticus contains God’s instructions for observance of the memorial of Passover which begins with the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Observance called for the selection of a male lamb of the first year, without blemish, as a burnt offering to the Lord (Leviticus 23:12). Following these observances Jesus, the Lamb of God, would be in fulfillment of prophesy betrayed for 30 pieces of silver and give His life for the sins of the world. The Old Testament prophets recorded hundreds of verses foretelling attributes and actions of the Suffering Messiah who would come first as Savior then in the Last Days to reign as King.

Isaiah: the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. The highly regarded prophet Isaiah could not have been more precise in foretelling Jesus if he’d actually attended the events memorialized by Christians these next several days:

(Isaiah 53:1-12) “Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was stricken. And they made His grave with the wicked-but with the rich at His death, because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

I have always been curious about something: Why was Isaiah not counted as a heretic by the religious leaders in his day because of his writing?

The teachings of Deuteronomy, Exodus, Ezekiel, and others state with abundant clarity that, “Every man shall be put to death for his own sin.”  In fact, in Exodus 32, Moses tries to offer himself as an atonement for the sins of the people and God said “No.”

The answer? I propose that it is the difference in “will”. In other words the distinction has to do with God’s WILL versus man’s will. In other words, Moses is exercising in accordance of his own will- even though unselfishly- when he attempts to offer his own life to atone for the sins of his people. But Isaiah is writing, not of his own will, but under the direction of God. Moses is doing his best to figure out something he can do to help his people be reconciled with God. Isaiah is writing as God dictates His Word. And so, unlike Moses who tries to propose an unacceptable offering, Isaiah is writing the Word of God in which God characterizes that which is the ONLY acceptable offering.

  • When man attempts to provide an acceptable sacrifice for atonement of sin, up to and including a human sacrifice, God refuses and rejects the sacrifice of human flesh and issued commands against it BECAUSE sinful humanity is incapable of providing in particular the requirement of “unblemished” in the natural man.
  • God refused and rejected anything else that man might try to bring as evidenced by His rejection of Cain’s offering. These offerings are all coming from “the will of man”.
  • Conversely,God has said that He WILL lay upon the One He’s chosen the iniquity of us all. This offering, Jesus, is of the will of God and Isaiah and others foretold of it.

A Look at David: The most renowned king of Israel and psalmist, David, is also accredited with having described almost 1000 years before the event with such clarity as an actual eyewitness the suffering crucifixion of Jesus, the one upon whom God laid the iniquity of all, on the Cross:

Psalm 22 “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning? O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; …I am a…reproach of men, and despised by the people. All those who see Me ridicule Me; they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, ‘He trusted in the LORD, let Him rescue Him; let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!’ But You are He who took Me out of the womb; You made Me trust while on My mother’s breasts. I was cast upon You from birth. From My mother’s womb You have been My God…I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; it has melted within Me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death. For dogs have surrounded Me; the congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me. They divide My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots…”

This is why Jesus had to die. Messiah came first to save the lost, the Lamb without blemish the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world.Genesis 3:21 foreshadows the God-provided covering of righteousness replacing man’s attempt at self-righteousness when He replaced Adam and Eve’s coverings of fig leaves with tunics of skin. God would teach His people first with the elements of Passover; elements that foreshadowed the two missions of Messiah: first, Savior and the full, final, and perfect Atonement; second, reigning King of His people. Messiah would become for His people the highest righteousness. Men who trust in their own righteousness shall be judged by it.

The prophet Ezekiel writes:

 “Therefore you, O son of man, say to the children of your people: ‘The righteousness of the righteous man shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression; as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall because of it in the day that he turns from his wickedness; nor shall the righteous be able to live because of his righteousness in the day that he sins.’ When I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, but he trusts in his own righteousness and commits iniquity, none of his righteous works shall be remembered…” (Ezekiel 33:12-13)

This is bad news for the one trusting in his own righteousness who has, if it were possible, been good his whole life then, distracted with a lustful thought by sight of a voluptuous women, dies after stepping off the curb into the path of an oncoming bus.

Ezekiel reiterates the Word of the Lord:

“But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:24)

The Old Testament scriptures foretell the coming of Messiah and the ushering in of a new covenant.Jeremiah 31 writes:

“In those days they shall say no more: ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge. But every one shall die for his own iniquity (as decreed under the old covenant); every man who eats sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge.’ Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah- not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” (Jeremiah 31:31-34)

“For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins,” Jesus said. “And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.” (Hebrews 9:15)

We grieve the crucifixion memorialized on Friday; but we know that Sunday is coming:

 (Isaiah 42:1-4) “Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles. He will not cry out, nor raise His voice, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth justice for truth. He will not fail nor be discouraged, till He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands shall wait for His law.” It is the Resurrection, the risen Christ, that we celebrate as the evidence that Jesus is Messiah! Over 500 witnessed the risen Jesus; and while many would suffer torture and death for something they believe true, we believe the testimonies of the Apostles because we know that no man would die in order to perpetuate the story of something they know is a lie!

Is it true? After the Resurrection a great persecution arose against these first Jew-Christians by the religious leaders who tried to silence the testimony of the Apostles. After a mysterious (aka miraculous) release from prison, the Apostles were brought before the high priest. One on the council was a Pharisee named Gamaliel. Here’s what Gamaliel had to say:

(Acts 5:34-39) Then one in the council stood up, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in respect by all the people, and commanded them to put the apostles outside for a little while. And he said to them: “Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing. After this man, Judas of Galilee, rose up in the days of the census, and drew away many people after him. He also perished, and all who obeyed him were dispersed. And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it–lest you even be found to fight against God.”

That was 2000 years ago. This plan, this work, has not been overthrown, but has endured.

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