by Johnathan Arnold
The substitutionary, atoning death of Jesus on the cross is the hinge of human history, the crucial dogma of the Christian faith, and the turning point in the story of every believer. Good Friday reminds us to slow down, meditate, and be thankful. Here are six more reasons why Jesus died, according to the Scriptures.
Read Why Did Jesus Die? Part 1
1. Jesus Died to Take Away Guilt and Condemnation
Although the ceremonial sacrifices could not perfect the conscience, “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:14, ESV). Our conscience is free from guilt because we know that “there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:1).
A guilty conscience is a terrible thing — a crushing load to carry. The only way to be free from the fear of condemnation is to confess, repent, and trust in the atonement to “be of sin the double cure, save from wrath and make me pure” (Rock of Ages). “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:22).
2. Jesus Died to Reconcile Us to God
“For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life” (Romans 5:10). That we are enemies of God is a key component of the gospel. Sin is not just a violation of God’s law; it is a personal offense against a personal God. David recognized, “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight” (Psalm 51:4). Not only does humanity need a way to be legally justified but also a way to be personally reconciled. The hope of the Scriptures is that “In Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them” (2 Corinthians 5:19, ESV).
This death of Christ brings us to God. Christ did not just end the war or make God amiable towards us. He restored the relationship, bringing us near.
In fact, the word “reconciliation” alone may not be strong enough to describe what Christ did. In 1 Peter 3:8, we read that “Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.” This death of Christ brings us to God. Christ did not just end the war or make God amiable towards us. He restored the relationship, so that Paul can say, “but now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13). Nearness and intimacy with the Living God is the aim of our redemption. In the end, God is the gospel. The beauty of the Heavenly Father is the crowning jewel of the atoning work.
3. Jesus Died to Become Our Eternal High Priest
A priest must have something to offer God. In times past, imperfect priests offered temporary sacrifices. It was the will of God for Jesus to be our high priest forever; thus, He came as a perfect priest to offer a permanent solution for the problem of human sin. The book of Hebrews has much to say about Christ as our eternal high priest.
For “every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:11-12, ESV). “He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself” (Hebrews 7:25-27; see also Hebrews 9:24-26).
4. Jesus Died to Destroy the Works of the Devil
“For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). We know with certainty that the manifestation of the Son of God refers especially to his death on the cross, because Jesus said these words as He was predicting that the Son of Man would be lifted up: “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out” (John 12:31).
They cried “crucify Him” because they failed to see that His real battle was with Satan, the greater foe than Rome, standing in the way of His spiritual kingdom.
The Palm Sunday crowd cheered Christ as they anticipated His battle with Rome, the only thing standing in the way of Him establishing an earthly kingdom. However, they cried “crucify Him” because they failed to see that His real battle was with Satan, the greater foe standing in the way of His spiritual kingdom.
In His death, he was sealing the fate of the devil, “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:14-15). Still to this day, “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12); however, we have the confidence that the victory was already secured on the cross and the devil’s time is short.
5. Jesus Died to Show God’s Love for Sinners
Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Is it not incredible that He laid down his life for his enemies? Romans 5:7-8 says it best: “Scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Yes, “that old rugged cross, so despised by the world, has a wondrous attraction for me” because in the cross we see the love of God clearly displayed. It is no wonder that John 3:16 is synonymous with the message of the cross: ”For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son.” Love held Jesus to the cross, not nails.
6. Jesus Died So We Could Live Forever
Finally, Jesus “died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him” (1 Thessalonians 5:10). For “to live is Christ, and to die is gain…My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better” (Philippians 1:21-23). “We would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8).
Passage to eternal life in heaven was purchased on the cross, along with all of our other spiritual blessings.
It is clear that because of the death of Jesus, we will be with him immediately after death. “And so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). For now, it is our responsibility to tell others so that they too may live forever with Him in heaven. He gave His son “that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Passage to eternal life in heaven was purchased on the cross, along with all of our other spiritual blessings.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). Good Friday is a special reminder that all of our spiritual blessings were purchased on the cross. Justification, redemption, adoption, sanctification, eternal inheritance, and many other blessings would be impossibilities without His atoning death. The least we can do is “devote one solemn hour of thought to a crucified Savior” (Barnes) — to survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died.
Barnes, Albert. Quoted in Forty Thousand Sublime and Beautiful Thoughts (NY: The Christian Herald, 1915).
Toplady, Augustus M. "445, Rock of Ages." Sing to the Lord (Kansas City, MO: Lillenas Publishing Co., 1993).
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