Why did Jesus have to die?
“Father, if it be possible let this cup pass from Me.”
What this means is “if there is any other way to forgive men and save men apart from My suffering and death then let it be so.” But we all know the divine response… “Not my will but Thine be done.” There was no other way for God to save but by the death of Christ. He who is the way, the truth and the life, apart from which no man can come to God.
He did not die merely as a martyr to inspire us. He died as a willing substitutionary sacrifice unto God for man. A lamb of God who bore away the sin of the world.
Here is what His death accomplishes.
- There was a Godward result – Propitiation
- There was a Sinward result – Redemption
- There was a Manward result – Reconciliation
Propitiation, the Godward result. The word propitiation means “the satisfaction of justice.” It is why a compassionate judge cannot let a guilty person go free no matter how merciful that judge feels, because justice must still be upheld. Mercy cannot cancel justice, for then the foundations of society would wash away. For God’s mercies to be extended His righteousness and justice must be met and His wrath satisfied. This satisfaction is called “propitiation.”
When Christ cried out on the cross, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”, He depicted propitiation. “Forsaken” indicates that God saw Him as guilty, thus forsaken. Guilty for nothing He had done, but because “He who knew no sin became sin” and God “laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” But the other point indicated is that there was no reason in Himself for His being forsaken. Thus “why hast Thou forsaken me?” The answer? He was punished for others. Propitiation.
The sinward result is redemption. The Greek words for redemption entail the payment for a slave to be freed from his bondage. Propitiation is from the religious realm. Redemption is from the commercial realm. “The wage of sin is death.” For man to be loosed from his condemnation as a slave of sin there must be a ransom price. “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.” The ransom was not to Satan (an early Christian belief from the first century of the faith.) but to God whereby His justice could be satisfied and the law of God fully met. The currency for the payment was blood. “Without the shedding of blood there can be no forgiveness of sin.” When Jesus cried, “It’s finished,” it was to redemption that He was referring. The word for “finished” in Jesus’ day meant “paid in full.” This is redemption.
The manward result of Christ’s atonement is called “reconciliation.” The Greek word is “katallaso” which means “to change back.” The English word means “to be at peace once again” or “re-conciliated.” Our reconciliation is two-fold. Provisional and applied. Christ’s death has reconciled all men provisionally so that God can invite “whosoever will” to come back to Him. “The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’” “Come to Me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” This is the provision of reconciliation. “While we were still enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, but now having been reconciled we shall be saved by His life.” In this verse we see provisional reconciliation and then its actual application. Through the propitiation of Christ and His redemption for sin, God is free to bid man come and then to bring him spiritually back into a full adoption, or reconciliation.
The death of Christ illustrated…
We stood by, as at the Red Sea, and watched as God accomplished our deliverance…
…through our incomparable Christ.