Why Did Jesus Have To Die? Couldn’t God Just Forgive Sins?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

Have you ever wondered why Jesus had to die? Why couldn’t God just have forgiven our sins?

Don’t Try this at Home

Imagine knowing that you just lied to your wife, and she found out about it…and then you think, “Oh well, she’ll forgive me, she’s supposed to…the Bible tells her to, at least 70 times 7.” The fact is, if you never ask for her forgiveness, is she going to believe what you say anymore? How would that help your relationship with her? Would it make it more loving, or, would she never trust you again? What are the consequences of ignoring her feelings, even if you hurt her?  Why ask for forgiveness when the Bible commands her to forgive 70 times 7? I’ll tell you why. It might not change the man’s relationship from being her husband, but it will affect the fellowship they have with one another, and their relationship will be strained, so why couldn’t God just forgive our sins without Jesus having to die? Why ask for forgiveness from someone when you’ve sinned against them? I can see very good reasons for confessing that sin, but also having to pay for consequences of unconfessed sin. God will forgive our sins, but the consequences of those sins might not disappear like our sins do, although hell is never again our destiny.

…our sins required a supreme sacrifice…Jesus is our Sin Bearer; the most perfect of all sacrifices…once and for all time.

A Just Judge

What judge would allow someone to commit a crime and then let them go unpunished? He or she wouldn’t be a judge for very long, I wouldn’t think, so for God to just wave His hand regarding our sins, and just say, “Forget about it,” would not be a just judgment at all. God is just. He pardons whom He wills to pardon, but He pardons only those who have trusted in His Son, Jesus Christ. The judgment we had coming for being lawbreakers was placed upon Christ at the cross, so God just couldn’t look the other way while humans indiscriminately broke His law. The Apostle John says that sin is the breaking or transgression of the law of God (1 John 3:4). The law of God is intended for our good, because if we strive to keep it, we will be blessed, but it is not the means by which we are saved…Christ is (Acts 4:12). The law shows us that we’re sinners in need of a Savior, because we cannot possibly keep it…and that means we are in a bad state before God. We need His mercy and His grace, and He does give us His free gift of grace (Eph 2:8-9), but not until we’ve been brought to repentance and faith in Christ. That’s what Jesus said the gospel is all about (Mark 1:14-15). All of us having been found guilty before God (Rom 3:10-12, 23), we don’t want what we deserve…we want what we need, and that’s mercy. If God overlooked lawbreakers and then just swept sins under the carpet, He would not be a just judge, and we know He is! We know He is because He accepted the most Perfect Sacrifice that is possible, and that’s His own Son, Jesus Christ. What if I robbed you of all you had and knowing you were a Christian, said, “Well, he or she has to forgive me….they’re commanded to do so.” That would still be wrong. It would still be a sin that’s not been dealt with, and all sin has to be dealt with, one way or another; through their bearing their own sins in hell, or trusting in Christ and having Him bear their sins. Either way, sin must and will be dealt with.

Imagine No Penalties

What if the police didn’t enforce the law because they just kept forgiving everyone? Would it be safe anymore to walk the streets or sleep at night? Wouldn’t only the strongest survive if the police just forgot about crime, thinking, “Boys will be boys.” Of course, that would be outrageous, and it would result in a world of chaos. No one would be safe if there were not repercussions for committing crimes. If Hitler is presently in hell, and it would seem that he is, and God had just forgiven him, there would be no need for a hell, and would people like Hitler escape justice. That would be one of the greatest travesties of justice ever, especially after Hitler committed such heinous crimes. If Hitler’s off the hook just because God could forgive sins, then there would be no justice in the world, and anything goes! Of course, that’s not the way it is. God has ordained human authorities to enforce His justice here on earth, so they bear the sword for Him (Rom 12:1-5), and besides, the Apostle Paul says, “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Cor 5:10), “So then each of us will give an account of himself to God” (Rom 14:12), however, if you’ve put your trust in Christ, your sins have been judged, being placed on Christ. Not so for the unbeliever, for they will all stand before God, and “every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God” (Rom 14:11), whether they believe it or not, so it’s better to confess Christ with your mouth and be saved today (Rom 10:9-10) than to try and defend yourself before God without Christ. For those who are in Christ, they have Jesus’ righteousness imputed on their behalf (2 Cor 5:21), but if someone has no Advocate before God, they have nothing but a hopeless eternity before them. That’s why some are so passionate about witnessing…they don’t want to see anyone go to hell, just as it’s the Father’s will that none perish apart from Christ (2 Pet 3:9).


If God didn’t deem it necessary to send Jesus to die for sinners, He would have never done it. Why would He put to death His very own Son, and watch the shame, pain, and humiliation of the Passion? Why would He allow Jesus to hang on that cross and suffer in agony for hours if it wasn’t necessary? It makes no sense unless we understand that our sins required a supreme sacrifice, and that Jesus is our Sin Bearer; the most perfect of all sacrifices…once and for all time. Jesus died for us because our sins had us separated from God (Isaiah 59:2), but Christ bridged that gap by the old rugged cross (John 3:16), and thankfully, we know that “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Are you one of the many? I pray you are.

Read more about Jesus here: Who is Jesus?

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible : English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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