SOMEONE asked me recently: ‘Why did Jesus die?’
It’s a good question to ask this week, when today we recall Jesus’s death on the cross.
The Bible explains why.
Jesus’s holiness, His profound teaching, the amazing miracles He worked, all demonstrated His claim to be the Son of God.
For many, just like today, this seemed preposterous.
It was a gross blasphemy.
It was also a claim that threatened to undermine the religious establishment and to cause civil unrest.
To save the day, as the high priest remarked, it was ‘better for one man to die than for everything to be destroyed’.
The rest is history.
But my questioner went on. ‘No, I don’t mean history.
‘Why, in God’s plan, did Jesus have to die?’
Well, Christians believe Jesus died to save us.
That is, to heal us of our sins and their damage, to help us bear suffering in its various forms, and to grant us life after death in heaven.
‘Yes, I know that’, they said.
‘But why did God want to achieve this by letting Jesus die a terrible death?
‘Could He not have found a less extreme way of bringing us salvation?’
Forgive the theology. St Anselm argued that because sin is an offence against an infinitely loving God, the only way in justice to remit it, is by an infinitely loving and valuable offering.
The payment is thus the Precious Blood of His only Son, God made man.
It’s true. God could have chosen another method. But by becoming fully human, one of us, Jesus demonstrates how much God loves us.
His holiness, life and teaching show us how to live a model human life.
As man, death would have been inevitable, but in His day, because His teaching so enraged people, a violent death would have been likely.
The death of Jesus, of course, was not the end, alleluia!
On Easter Sunday, God raised Him from the dead and made salvation available down the ages to all who wish, through His Church.
Easter vindicated Jesus.
It proved His teaching to be true. Salvation has now been won.
This is the fantastic good news Christians proclaim.
It’s also why this Easter I invite you to come and join us to celebrate it.