Why Did Jesus Have to Die?

by | Jun 5, 1998 | Salvation

It was 4:30 in the morning when I received the phone call. A man on the other end of the wire told me a house was on fire-the house of people I loved. I struggled to put on some clothing and made my way to the house. When I got there, the smoke was heavy, the smell was horrible and the cries were even worse. Every member of the family had escaped the burning house except the father. I will never forget standing before that burning house, holding the hand of the teenager watching as they carried her father’s body out of the house, draped over by a sheet so that the family wouldn’t have to look at the stark reality of death. I will never forget her looking into my eyes and asking, “Pastor, why? Why did he have to die?”

Years later, another teenager had another question. She was a member of the church I then served and, like many teenagers, refused to accept cliches. She came to me and asked, “Pastor, why did Jesus have to die?” I didn’t have an answer.

I don’t remember the names of either teenage girl. Years have a way of erasing some things that are very important. I wish I could remember because I now have the answers to both of their questions. Wouldn’t it have been better had Jesus lived to a ripe, old age? To have more time to teach us so that we might grow? Why did Jesus have to die? Jesus had to die because evil cannot stand in the face of good. “‘Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst . . . You have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death”‘ (Acts 2:22-23). Absolute goodness and absolute purity met evil; had to be destroyed.

A woman once told me that hated her sister. In an outburst of anger, she cried out, “I wish she was dead!” I asked the woman why and she answered, “Because my sister is beautiful and good.” Christ’s absolute purity was an absolute threat to the evil, ugliness and hatred in the world. At the crucifixion, Evil prepared a cross. Evil drove the nails. Evil plaited the crown of thorns and pressed it on His forehead and watched Him die. And, as He died, Evil laughed, laughed and laughed. Jesus Christ, as absolute good: could not be allowed to live.

Jesus had to die because a lie cannot stand in the face of truth. “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him…. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (John 1:10,17). Jesus said, “I am the Truth.”

God is holy and righteous. For that reason, He is also frightening. God said, “The wages of sin is death.” Who dies? Christ dies with your sin. Every time the Father looks at you, He looks to see if YOU have accepted it through His Son. Your penalty was paid on the cross. Are you forgiven, perfect, loving and kind? No way! But in God’s eyes, you are . . . Forever. If I could go back to those two teenage girls, what would I tell them? I would tell the first girl, whose father had died in the fire, “Your father had to die in order to really live.” I would tell the second girl, who wouldn’t accept cliches, “Jesus had to die so that another teenager’s father wouldn’t have to stay that way.”

Why did Jesus have to die? For you.

Author unknown. If anyone has a proprietary interest in this story please authenticate and I will be happy to credit, or remove, as the circumstances dictate.

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Why Did Jesus Have to Die?