My children sat at the kitchen counter and opened the transparent egg carton featuring “Resurrection eggs” that tell the story of Jesus through symbolism.
When my daughter opened the light purple egg with the silver chalice, we talked about Jesus’ blood covering our sin. She looked up and honestly asked.
“Why did Jesus have to die?”
Such a great question. Why did our God—Ruler of the Universe—have to die?
Why Did Jesus Have to Die?
All stories start at the beginning. Our story of why Jesus had to die also starts at the beginning—of humanity.
The First Death to Cover Sin
Adam and Eve, the first humans, chose to rebel against God by doing what God said not to do (eat of the fruit from a specific tree). Their sin (rebellion against God) brought death and brokenness to all creation—and separated them from God and one another.
Rebellion Brought Shame
Then, their eyes were opened and they saw their nakedness (shame) and hid (see Genesis 3).
God Provided a Covering for Shame
So, God covered their nakedness with clothes made of skin (Genesis 3:21).
Now, Moses refrained from the details about what kind of animal God used for the first designer line, but the choice of fabric is essential: skin. An animal died to cover Adam and Eve’s naked bodies—to cover their shame.
Passover Sacrifice: The Foreshadowing of Jesus
God’s People Were Trapped in Slavery
Later in Exodus, Moses recorded the story of the Israelites enslaved for 400 years. God called Moses to go back to Egypt where he was born (and saved from infanticide, see Exodus 1–2). God told Moses to tell Pharaoh to let His people go.
Pharaoh Would Not Let God’s People Free.
The more Pharaoh rebelled against God, the more plagues God sent—which demonstrated Yhwh as more powerful than the gods of Egypt (the plagues correlated to gods they worshipped).
The tenth and final plague was the death of the first born son.
God Rescued His People Through a Sacrifice
But those who believed in Yhwh (God) and worshipped Him, were instructed to sacrifice a spotless lamb in a certain way and put the blood of the lamb on the doorposts of the house—as well as other instructions for how to cook and eat the meat (see Exodus 11–12).
That night, those in the homes with the covering of blood were passed over by the plague of death. But those who did not worship Yhwh and obey his command to sacrifice a lamb, their first born sons died—including Pharaoh’s.
The Law Called for Substitutionary Sacrifice to Forgive Sin
God Gave Israel the Law
Once God’s people left Egypt to become a nation, God gifted them the Law: what they needed to know about who God is, who they are, and how to have a right relationship with Yhwh (how to live).
The Law included rules to follow (there are 613 commands, see Exodus–Deuteronomy). Some of those rules are how to atone for sin. In other words, how to make a payment so the judgement of sin (death) is forgiven.
God is Good and Just
God is good, so God is just. That means, when we choose to do something not in line with the holiness of God, justice needs to be served.
If someone killed your loved one, would you not want justice? If someone stole your car, would you not want the law to be upheld?
Of course. In our hearts, we know that justice is a good thing—it keeps what is right, right.
And because God is good, He provides a way for justice—without us having to pay the penalty of our sin with our own blood (because the wages of sin is death, Romans 6:23)
The Law Taught How to Offer Sin Sacrifices
The way to atone for sin in the Old Testament period, to pay the due penalty for sin and receive forgiveness from Yhwh, was through animal sacrifice (see Leviticus).
Blood for blood.
As Paul wrote in Romans 6, the wages of sin is death. So the death of the animal took the place of the death the human(s) deserved.
All of this sounds strange in our time, but if we unroll the timeline of history, animal sacrifice was a common practice among ancient worshippers of various religions.
However, in our case, Yhwh is the One and Only True God and animal sacrifice was the system Yhwh set up for that time to offer forgiveness of sin through the faith of the person offering the sacrifice.
Jesus, the Final Lamb of God
Prophets Foretold About Jesus
Throughout the centuries in the Old Testament, Israel’s prophets foretold of the coming Messiah (see reference from Jesus Film).
And the author of Hebrews explains in Chapter 10 that the blood of animals could never permanently take away the sins of the people, but they were offered in faith and God accepted their offering in faith.
Jesus is Our Perfect Sin Sacrifice
But then, Jesus volunteered to offer himself as our perfect sacrifice, once and for all—the perfect blood offering for the forgiveness of sins for all who believe, in all time.
“For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy,” (Hebrews 10:14, see all of Hebrews 10).
WHAT GREAT LOVE GOD HAS FOR US!
The Prophet Isaiah foretold about Jesus as our sin offering in Ch. 53:
Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all. . .
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,. . .
Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the Lord makeshis life an offering for sin, . . .
(See all of Isaiah 53)
In the New Testament, Paul declares:
So, why did Jesus have to die?
Jesus is God-in-the-flesh, fully human, fully God, fully holy and perfect.
Jesus had to die because only a perfect human could be a perfect sacrifice to take our place in forever death—and become our victor over sin and death forever.
And now, He sits on His throne and will come again to judge the living and the dead.
Will you be counted as one forgiven when he returns?
Have you placed your faith and trust in Jesus as Your sin offering?
Romans 10:9-11 (NIV)
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”
If you are not sure if you are forgiven for your sins, this is what you need to do:
Believe that Jesus is the Christ, the only Son of our living God.
Believe that he volunteered to become our sin sacrifice.
Believe that he was raised from the dead three days after he offered his life on the cross and overcame sin and death for us.
Pray your confession of faith to the Lord and ask for forgiveness.
If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
There is no “one way” to pray for salvation, but if you would like to follow something, here is an example:
Lord, Father in Heaven,
I know I am a sinner. I do not think and do everything right and because of this, Your Word tells me, I deserve forever death because You are just. But, You are also forgiving and provided the way for my salvation from forever death through Your Son, Jesus Christ. I believe Jesus died on the cross to pay the just penalty of my sin and by believing in Jesus, I am forgiven and saved from the eternal death to come. Thank you for this gift by grace through faith in Jesus. AMEN.
If you have placed your faith in Jesus for the first time, share this with a trusted Christian friend or ask to speak to a pastor. The Christian life is meant to be lived in community with others.
(You can also contact Seana).
Your first step in following Jesus is to be baptized. Contact your local Bible-believing church or reach out to a Jesus-follower you know.
How believers live in response to Jesus’ sacrifice?
Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
What did you notice from the passage?
How can you offer your body as a living sacrifice in response to Jesus’ sacrifice for the forgiveness of your sin?
Pray about what you thought about in your reflection time. Were you reminded of a truth? Prodded to do something? Do you need God to help you in some way?
Take a moment to pray about what came to mind as you reflected.
If you would like to read a prayer instead, here is one to follow:
Father, Son, Holy Spirit—one and only true God, I worship You. Lord, thank you for sending Your one and only son to be the perfect sin sacrifice, once and for all. Forgive me, oh Lord, for treating His sacrifice casually and not being serious at times for living my life as a living sacrifice—holy and pleasing to You. I confess I am weak, so I ask for Your forgiveness and power to follow You today in a way that honors You and brings glory to Your name.