Essential Questions: Why the crucifixion?

I know that we haven’t gotten to Holy Week (the last week of Lent) yet, but I have decided to tackle the issue of the crucifixion today.  Often people wonder why Jesus had to die.  They question God’s action in sending his Son to die for sin.  Sometimes people see God as heartless or cruel for acting in this way.  As humans we have a hard time understanding why the crucifixion was necessary.  I won’t be so bold as to say I am going to explain it; but I do hope to give you some things to think about.  Perhaps you know all this information, but see what God has to say to you in it.  God is always speaking to us through the bible and helping us to grow in faith.

Jesus was executed like a common criminal.  In fact, he was hanging on a cross between two thieves (Matthew 27:38).  Jesus’ death was part of God’s plan to restore the relationship with humans.  Adam and Eve broke that relationship when they bought into the servant’s lie and did not believe God, essentially calling God a liar (Genesis 3:4-6).  Even in anger, God did not leave humanity hopeless.  Throughout the Old Testament, God tells His people about the plan; for example through the prophet Isaiah.

Yet it was our grief he bore, our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, for his own sins! But he was wounded and bruised for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace; he was lashed—and we were healed! We—every one of us—have strayed away like sheep! We,who left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet God laid on him the guilt and sins of every one of us!   (Isaiah 53:4-6 TLB (emphasis in original)).

The punishment for sin is death (Romans 6:23).  It is not just the cost of what we consider “big” sins, like murder.  It is the price of all sin.  Before Jesus’ death, an animal would be sacrificed.  It was symbolic in that all sin for the year was placed on that animal and the animal would die instead of the person.  Then Jesus came.  He took the place of the sacrificial animal and he took our place too.

29 The next day he (John the Baptist) saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1: 29 ESV)

Even Jesus said that he came “not to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a random for may” (Matthew 20:28 ESV).

Perhaps you think that we should be able to fix our relationship by doing lots of good things.  We cannot do enough good work to  make up for our sin for two reasons. (1) We basically flawed so it is impossible for us to do that Romans 3:23. Frequently, we cannot do the good that we want to do as our sinful nature gets in the way (Romans 7:19-20). (2) Our idea of good is tainted.  It is not as good as God’s idea of what is good.

We’re all sin-infected, sin-contaminated.
    Our best efforts are grease-stained rags (Isaiah 64:6 MSG).

So we are left with God’s plan to fix our relationship.  The crucifixion and death of Jesus. Jesus died and we are saved from eternal separation from God (Romans 5:10-11). His blood was given instead of ours.  Blood gives life.  During a blood transfusion, someone else’s blood is provided to another patient to allow them to live.  In this case, Jesus’ blood gives us life.  

All these new things are from God who brought us back to himself through what Christ Jesus did. And God has given us the privilege of urging everyone to come into his favor and be reconciled to him. For God was in Christ, restoring the world to himself, no longer counting men’s sins against them but blotting them out. This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others. We are Christ’s ambassadors. God is using us to speak to you: we beg you, as though Christ himself were here pleading with you, receive the love he offers you—be reconciled to God. 21 For God took the sinless Christ and poured into him our sins. Then, in exchange, he poured God’s goodness into us! (2 Corinthians 5:18-20 ESV)

In a simplistic way, it reminds me of a small child.  They lash out and hurt their parent.  They still want to be in a relationship with the parent.  They cannot fix what they have done.  They don’t know how or don’t have the capacity to do so.  It is left to the parent to fix it.  Without the parent taking the initiative, there is no way to save the relationship.  The same holds true with our relationship with God.  Essentially, we broke our relationship through our sin.  We cannot fix our relationship with God ourselves.  It is impossible for us to do what is required.  God loves us and wants to restore our relationship.  Since we cannot do it, God will do it for us.  He loves us enough that He will do whatever it takes.

In closing, I would urge you to take some time to read the story of the crucifixion yourself and see what God is revealing to you in it.  Even if you go to a church that reads it as part of the worship service, it is important to read through the bible story and see how it speaks to you personally.  Take some time to think about and pray through Matthew 27.  Without truly appreciating the crucifixion, it is hard to participate fully in the joy of Easter morning.

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