Why Did Jesus Have to Die?

Jesus Received Our Penalty

When Jesus died on Calvary (Golgotha), he was experiencing the judgment of God upon the sins of the world. He died in our place as our substitute. “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree” (Gal. 3:13). The cross was a criminal judgment by God upon the sins of the world.

He Took On Punishment For The Crime

The judicial charge bringing about the judgment was sin against God. Every man is a sinner because of a threefold reason.

First, because of Adam’s transgression everyone has been born with a sin nature (Ps. 51:2). Second, we have also committed personal sins against God. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). In the third place, we have had sin imputed to our account in heaven (Rom. 5:19). Since man is a sinner, God is his enemy (Eph. 2:3).

This is strong language, but sin is a violation of the nature of God. The crime of sin is so great that it brought about the judgment of Calvary.

He Was Treated as a Criminal

Everyone is guilty of the crime of sin. A popular gospel song reflects on this subject, “I should have been crucified.” This is also the conclusion of the apostle Paul, who said “Christ … being made a curse for us ” (Gal. 3:13). Some have commented on the significance of the circumstances surrounding the death of Christ.

When given a choice by Pontius Pilate, the people decided Christ should die in the place of Barabbas, the one who was guilty of a crime that deserved death. Barabbas’s name means “a father’s son.” The people had chosen that Christ should die for a guilty son of a father; God had long before agreed Christ would die for every guilty son and daughter of every father.

He Received Our Sentence

“The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). Nothing could be more clearly taught in the Bible than the eternal consequences of sin. Its path leads to ultimate destruction both in this life and in the life to come. Sin involves the anger of God against it.

Thus the Giver of life will judge sin with death-physical and eternal death. That sentence will someday be read over all those who do not accept Jesus as their Substitute (Rev. 20:11-15).

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Dr. Elmer Towns is a college and seminary professor, an author of popular and scholarly works (the editor of two encyclopedias), a popular seminar lecturer, and dedicated worker in Sunday school, and has developed over 20 resource packets for leadership education.His personal education includes a B.S. from Northwestern College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a M.A. from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary also in Dallas, a MRE from Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, and a D.Min. from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.He is co-founder of Liberty University, with Jerry Falwell, in 1971, and was the only full-time teacher in the first year of Liberty’s existence. Today, the University has over 11,400 students on campus with 39,000 in the Distance Learning Program (now Liberty University Online), and he is the Dean of the School of Religion.Dr. Towns has given theological lectures and taught intensive seminars at over 50 theological seminaries in America and abroad. He holds visiting professorship rank in five seminaries. He has written over 2,000 reference and/or popular articles and received six honorary doctoral degrees. Four doctoral dissertations have analyzed his contribution to religious education and evangelism.

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