Why Did Jesus Have to Die on the Cross?

One of my favourite questions to ask pastors I meet is this: “Why did Jesus have to die on the cross?” The answers I get are usually along the lines, “Because ‘without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins’.” And though that is true, it does not really answer the question. Because one can still ask, “Why?” The great majority of people who’ve answered my question in this way have been unable to explain why there could be no remission of sins without the shedding of Jesus’ blood.

In this Gospel Coalition video, David Short, pastor at St. John-Shaugnessy church in Vancouver, BC, gives an excellent overview of the answer to this overarching question.

Why Did Jesus Have To Die? What Actually Takes Place On The Cross? from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

However, if you notice, David Short still did not address the question “why did it require the shedding of Jesus’ blood”? He answered a number of other key questions that come up in relation to this topic, but not precisely the “why?” we keep running in to as we press in on this question. Some might object that I’m behaving like the insatiably curious 3-year old who keeps asking his parents, “Why?”

That reminds me of the old SNL Jack Handy quote about the kid who keeps asking “Why?” (I share it here purely in humour, with no serious point attached to this quote.)

“If a kid asks where rain comes from, I think a cute thing to tell him is “God is crying.” And if he asks why God is crying, another cute thing to tell him is “Probably because of something you did.”” – Jack Handy

But seriously, I think the Bible’s explanation of the ultimate “why?” behind the death of Christ has to do with God’s own desire to reveal to the world that He is holy–perfect in all His attributes. In other words, God did not send Jesus merely because He loves people; also because He is just. Both His love and His justice are gloriously revealed in the cross of Christ.

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21-26 ESV)

Does this raise more questions for you? Post your thoughts in the comments below.