Jesus died on the cross. This fact is as historically certain as any fact of history. Jesus was condemned by a hateful crowd of religious leaders who despised Him and His teachings. Instead of believing His claims to be their Messiah they demanded His death. Jesus was sentenced to death by an indifferent politician who found it convenient to bow to the wishes of a mob instead of doing what he knew to be just.
The political and personal reasons for Jesus’ crucifixion explain the motives of the individuals involved, but they do not explain it’s necessity. The “why” of Jesus’ death on the cross can only be explained theologically. Jesus died because of the sinfulness of men. The necessity of Jesus’ death is found at the intersection of God’s holiness and love.
God is holy. Consequently, He cannot have a friendly relationship with anything polluted by sin. Every person is a sinner. Man’s sin separates him from God. Sin is not an offense to God and rebellion against Him. God is holy. Consequently, He cannot allow sin to go unpunished. The punishment of sin is death. The only way for a sinful human to have a relationship with God is for the punishment of his sin to be paid. God cannot simply overlook sin. To do so would be unjust. The punishment of sin must be paid, but ne perosn is able to pay the penalty and restore himself to God.
The love of God responded to the helpless sinfulness of man by providing a payment for sin that is sufficient to satisfy the holy demands of God’s justice and reconcile the sinner to Him. “For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlsating life.” (John 3:16) “God demonstrates His love toward us, in that while were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Because God is love, God the Son willingly died to pay the penalty of our sin and restore us to friendship with God.
God’s system of justice permits a substitute to be punished in place of the offender provided the substitute meets certain standards of perfection. This is not the case in American justice, but it is true of Divine justice. When Adam and Eve sinned God provided a substitute to cover their sin. He then promised a greater substitute who would conquer sin. Jesus is the perfect sacrifice promised as the substitute for sinful men. His death satisfies God’s justice and makes it possible for sinners to be reconciled to God. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) “You, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death.” (Colossians 1:21-22)
Jesus had to die on the cross if sinful men were to be saved from the death they deserved. Through His death Jesus met the demands of justice. His death on the cross made it possible for sinners to be forgiven. If Jesus had not died, no one could be saved. Because He died, all will be saved who receive Him by faith. He promises forgiveness freely to any who will rely entirely on Him to take away their sin and restore them to God. Have you turned to Jesus for salvation? Will you?