Was it really necessary for God to send Jesus to die for sinners? Why couldn’t God just forgive sin? Why exactly did Jesus, Who is God, have to die?
The Fall in the Garden
When Adam and Eve fell from God’s grace in the Garden, they lost their chance for living forever. They would now need someway to pay for their sins if they were to have eternal life. A penalty is always incurred when humans sin. When Adam and Eve sinned, they were banned from the Garden because the Tree of Life was still there and God did not want them to go into the Garden and take from the Tree of Life and have eternal life as sinners. That would be unimaginable because sin corrupts and the corruption would never cease for all eternity, therefore God put Adam and Eve out of the Garden and put an angel to block them from having access to it. Eden was lost, but was it lost forever? Was there a way, in Adam and Eve’s lineage, to be redeemed back to God? It appears so as we read in Genesis 3:15b in what is called the “protoevangelium” (the first gospel) and that the coming, promised seed “will crush [Satan’s] head, and [Satan] will strike [Christ’s] heel.”
When Adam and Eve sinned, we see that God had to clothe them but it took the death of animals to cover them which is symbolic of the coming sacrificial system for Israel and ultimately, of Christ Himself. This is mentioned in Genesis 3:21-23 where “Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them. And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from where he was taken.” This is the first sign that sin results in death and sin necessitates a sacrifice.
Wages of Sin is Death
Wages are what a laborer earns for the work that they have done. In the same way, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) and since “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) every human that has ever lived, every one living today and every human that is yet to be born, has earned or will earn the death penalty. The reason is that all have sinned. There is no exception but Christ. We can not help but sin because “None is righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). Sadly, there is not even “one who understands [and] there is no one who seeks God” (Romans 3:11). I had a man leave the church that I am under-shepherd of that said he wasn’t a sinner. It really bothered him when I gave the opening prayer and spoke about our need for daily forgiveness for we are all sinners. The Bible is clear that “if we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). This man left our church after he disagreed with me that he was not a sinner. All I could say to him was, “I am so sorry. Then Christ must not have died for you because Jesus died to save sinners.”
Why Did Jesus Have to Die?
The simple fact is that if Jesus, Who is God, did not come to die in our place, we would have to pay for our own sins and since the sin penalty could never be fully satisfied, we would have to pay for them for all eternity. That is why those who refuse to repent and put their trust in Christ will have to pay for their own sins. How tragic that we do not take the free gift from God and understand that for “our sake [God] made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). The gospel must necessarily include the bad news because only then is the good news so good! Earlier I quoted part of Romans 6:23 but here is the bad news followed by the good news in one verse: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” That is how you share the gospel. First the bad news and only then the good news:
- The wages of our sins is death…eternal death. That is the bad news.
- The good news that follows is that eternal life in Christ is free! You couldn’t earn it; otherwise it wouldn’t be a gift.
The fact is that you could never, in a million lifetimes, earn eternal life by good works. Why? It is because every one of us has “become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away” (Isaiah 64:6).
God cannot just sweep sin under the carpet. He is too holy for that. God can not even look at sin. This is why the Father had to look away when Jesus hung on the cross because He cannot even glance at sin…even for a moment. If God could just simply forgive sin, then why would He see the need to send Jesus as the Supreme Sacrifice for all eternity? God can not err; He would not make such a costly mistake. The fact is that God knew from before creation that Jesus would have to die for humanity. Peter understood that “He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake” (1 Peter 1:20) and that Jesus was “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). Since God knew mankind would fall, even before they were created, the plan was to redeem them…long before earth even existed. Can we now understand why Jesus had to die for humanity? God foreknew those whom He would call (Ephesians 1) and planned Jesus’ sacrifice from long before mankind sinned (Revelation 13:8). If it was possible to redeem mankind any other way, then why was it necessary for Jesus to have to suffer such an excruciating death and suffer for hours and hours in agony on the cross? It must have been necessary, otherwise God the Father made Jesus suffer and die for nothing!
Clearly, it was necessary for Jesus to come and die to redeem us. Jesus Himself said this in Luke 24:25-26, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” The answer is clearly yes. We are left with only two choices. We must pay for our own sins and do so for all eternity or we must throw ourselves at the mercy of God and repent, confess our sins, then trust in Christ. In the latter and exceedingly better, we are freed from the death penalty. All of humanity who will not trust in Christ is sitting on death row right now. How important it is then to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with a lost and dying world? Why would we be shy or hesitant knowing the eternal fate of anyone who steps out of this life without Christ? We are either God’s children and freed from sin’s penalty or we are children of the Devil and slaves to sin (1 John 3:9-10). There is no neutrality in the plan of salvation. As I have heard said, He paid a debt He did not owe for a debt we could not pay. What awesome news that through Jesus’ “death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives” (Hebrews 2:14-15).
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Resources: New International Version Bible THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.