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24 & 25 February 2024 (Pastoral Page) WHY DID JESUS CHRIST HAVE TO DIE?

By Asst Ps Patrick Chan Yin

As we are going through the Lenten season, culminating in the solemn remembrance of Good Friday (on 29 March), when Jesus Christ died on the cross, I thought it would be apt that we explore the fundamental question: Why did Jesus Christ have to die in the first place? This question is often asked by someone who is exploring the Christian faith and I am wondering how many of us, long-time Christians, really know the answer. The answer to this question actually lies at the heart of our Christian faith and reveals the depth of God's love for humanity and His plan for our redemption.


The Necessity of Sacrifice for Sin

The Bible tells us that “sin entered the world through one man (Adam - the first human), and death through sin; and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). The consequence of sin is death, both physical and spiritual, a separation from God who is holy and just. Under the Old Covenant, as stipulated in the Old Testament, the Law required that blood be shed for the forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 9:22). However, the sacrifices of animals were never sufficient to fully remove sin; they needed to be repeated and could never make the worshippers completely pure (Hebrews 10:1-4). These sacrifices pointed to the need for a perfect, once for all sacrifice (Hebrews 10:10).


The Fulfilment of Prophecy

Furthermore, throughout the Old Testament, prophecies foretold the coming of the Messiah who would suffer and die for the sins of the people. Isaiah 53 vividly describes the suffering servant, a passage that Christians understand to be about Jesus. 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" (Isaiah 53:5). Jesus' death was not an accident nor an afterthought; it was the fulfilment of God's redemptive plan foretold centuries before.


The Perfect Sacrifice

Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, lived a sinless life, something no other human could accomplish. His death was unique because He was the perfect sacrifice, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). His sacrifice was sufficient to cover all sins, past, present, and future. Through His death, Jesus satisfied the righteous wrath of God against sin, making reconciliation with God possible for us.


The Demonstration of God's Love

Perhaps the most profound reason for Jesus' death is the demonstration of God's immense love for us. Romans 5:8 declares, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Jesus' willingness to die on the cross shows the depth of God's love – a love that goes to great lengths to restore fellowship with His creation. It's a love that doesn't wait for us to become perfect but reaches out to us in our imperfection.


Victory Over Sin and Death

Jesus' death was not the end of this story. His resurrection on the third day is pivotal, demonstrating His victory over sin and death. This victory assures us that those who put their faith in Him are also victorious and will have eternal life (1 Corinthians 15:57). Because of Jesus' death and resurrection, death has lost its sting, and the grave has lost its victory (1 Corinthians 15:55).


As we prepare our hearts during Lent and reflect on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Good Friday, let us ponder the depth of our sin and the even greater depth of God's love for us. Jesus Christ's death was necessary because it was the only way to reconcile us to God, to cleanse us from our sins, to spare us from eternal death, and to offer us the hope of eternal life.  It's a time to repent, to renew our commitment to follow Jesus, and to marvel at the mercy (God not giving us what we deserve – eternal death) and grace (God giving us what we do not deserve – eternal life) of God that saves us.

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