Why Did Jesus Have To Die? (The Reason For God Chapter 12)

Why did Jesus have to die? Couldn’t God simply forgive everyone and be done with it?
These are questions I have asked over the years. They are questions I hear people ask many times throughout my ministry.
In The Reasons For God, Timothy Keller gives 2 reasons why Jesus had to die.

1. Real forgiveness for real wrongs is costly.

Think about real wrongs.
Someone runs a red light and smashes into your car. A real wrong has been done. Someone is going to have to pay. There is no option that does not require a payment to make things right. Either the person who hit you will pay. Or you will pay. Sometimes both of you will pay. But make no mistake about it, someone is paying.
When we smashed into God’s world and crashed the way it was supposed to be, a real wrong was done. Someone was going to pay. The book of Ezekiel says, ‘The soul who sins must die.’ God is a just God. He doesn’t wink at sin and say, ‘Well, all is forgiven.’
Forgiveness means absorbing the cost of the punishment. No one “just forgives.” Timothy Keller says, “There was a debt to be paid – God Himself paid it. There was a penalty to be born – God Himself bore it.”

2. Real love is a personal exchange.

Jesus changed places with us. Sin demands a penalty. Romans 6:23 says the wages of sin is death. But it goes on to say, “the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” He was the only one capable of paying the penalty for us. We deserved death. We rebelled against God and were treasonous against His kingdom. But the King decided to die for the people.
Why did Jesus choose to take our place and receive the penalty of death? Romans 5 says, “God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”

I think when we ask a questions like, ‘Why did Jesus have to die? Couldn’t God just forgive everyone’ we are missing the seriousness of sin and are downplaying the justice of God. We are missing the depth of His love and His willingness to make a way for us to be forgiven.
The real question is this, how does a God of justice forgive real wrongs and keep in place the standard of justice He calls for? Romans 3 says God was both just and yet saved people by His own willingness to die in our place.
Anytime real wrongs are done and real love is required it will cost something. And the greater wrong, the greater the cost, and the greater the love necessary, to make things right.


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