Why did Jesus have to die?
Because God is just. (Deut 32:4)
Imagine a human Judge. When he is considering the crimes of a rapist or murderer, does the Judge have the right to say, “aw, that’s okay. I’m a nice guy. I’ll just let you off the hook this time because I’m a loving person”.
Is that just? Is that fair? Is that right? Of course not.
Now, consider that God is the PERFECT JUDGE. Can He be perfect in His judgment if He just looked down on our sinfulness and said, “that’s okay. I’m a God of Love. I’ll just overlook your sin. Go on now.”
1 Peter 1:17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; (NKJV)
You might say “well, for me that would be okay because I’m basically good. Of course that would not be okay if I were a murderer, liar, blasphemer or adulterer. But that’s not me. I’m a good person. God could just forgive me.”
You’re not so bad, right? Me either. Wait… let’s look again.
Have you ever told ONE lie? I have. What does that make you and me? How many lies does it take to be a LIAR? One! You’re a liar. So am I.
Have you ever lusted, even once? Me too. We are adulterers according to Jesus. Have you used God’s name in vain, casually or without respect? Yeah, me too. We are blasphemers. Have you ever hated someone for even a moment when they wronged you terribly? That’s the same as murder. Have you ever stolen ANY thing (taxes, bubble gum, your employer’s time)? Hello, Mr. Thief.
So far we are admittedly liars, blasphemers, murderers, thieves and adulterers. Do I need to keep going, or are you convinced now you’re NOT so good? (Matt 19:17)
What about this idea of “well, God is God, He can just forgive us”? This betrays a lack of understanding concerning justice. When a law is broken, the penalty for it MUST be paid. There must be repayment for violation. If there isn’t, the violation or sin has become ACCEPTED or OVERLOOKED, and God can NOT accept sin. You must understand this point.
GOD CANNOT JUST ACCEPT SIN. IT MUST BE PUNISHED. IT MUST BE PAID FOR. THE PENALTY MUST BE EXACTED. THE DEBT MUST BE SATISFIED.
If this did NOT occur, then God would simply be accepting or overlooking sin, and a holy God can NOT accept sin. It would make Him unholy.
Revelation 15:4 Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, For Your judgments have been manifested.” (NKJV)
The penalty for sin is death. Why? Because sin cannot exist in God’s presence. It must die. We are by nature instilled with sin. All the human race is. So there is only two options: humans can “pay” for their sin by eternally being punished, or someone SINLESS can pay our penalty for us.
None of us could pay for sin because we all DESERVE to die for our sin. We can’t pay for our penalty, much less others.
1 Corinthians 15:21-22 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. (NKJV)
That is why Jesus had to die. That is why He had to become a human, live a perfect life, and then die. His death, undeserved because He never sinned, satisfied God’s JUSTICE.
God can now look at me and you and say “I can’t forgive you of your sin for no reason, but I can forgive you based on the fact that the penalty you deserve has already been paid”. (Rom 8:33; Isa 53:11; Isa 61:10; Jer 23:6; Ro 3:22; 5:18; 1Co 1:30; 2Co 5:21)
God’s JUSTICE demanded that He sacrifice His own Son lest every single human end up in hell for all eternity. Here’s where the “God is love” part comes in. God’s love could not leave us to all die in our sin (John 3:16). So He did the only thing that could be done to pay the penalty His perfect justice demanded for our sin.
And that is why Jesus had to die.