Why did Jesus suffer?

The amazing fact about our redemption is that there was nothing accidental about it.  Throughout the Old Testament there are countless references to the fact that Jesus would suffer for our sins.  He is the lamb, prefigured in the Passover, slain from the foundation of the world.   Psalm 22, for example – the Psalm quoted by our Saviour on the cross – gives details of death by crucifixion 400 years before crucifixion was first used as a method of executing criminals, and 1000 years before Jesus died.

But couldn’t there have been a cleaner, sweeter way to reconcile mankind to God?  When our inter-faith friends tell us that I there are other ways to God than through Jesus and that we should consider the Bhuddist, the Hindu or the Moslem ways to the supreme being, I ask the simple question – if that’s true, why did Jesus have to die? I can suggest five reasons:

a) to show God’s implacable hostility to sin

‘The day of His fierce anger” [Lam 1:12] was not directed at the sufferer but at the sin; God cannot compromise His word: the soul that sins will die [Ezekiel 18:4].  Paul in his sublime letter to the Romans writes in 5:12 ‘Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned’.  Sin is an inescapable fact of life and the consequence is set out bluntly by Paul. Rom 6:23 the wages of sin is death; because ‘all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.’

b) to show the destructive power of sin

What Paul calls the exceeding sinfulness of sin in Rom 7:13 Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful.’

As the Message translates it ‘I can already hear your next question: “Does that mean I can’t even trust what is good [that is, the law]? Is good just as dangerous as evil?” No again! Sin simply did what sin is so famous for doing: using the good as a cover to tempt me to do what would finally destroy me. By hiding within God’s good commandment, sin did far more mischief than it could ever have accomplished on its own. It destroyed the sinless Son of God

c). to show the extent of God’s love for us:

He hates the sin, but He loves the sinner: the only way He could redeem us to Himself was to take the punishment upon Himself – John 3:16  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. God’s reconciling love was the motive.

The completeness of the finished work of Calvary is shown 3 times in Hebrews when the writer uses the Gk word ephapax ‘ONCE FOR ALL’ – for all people and for all time – Heb. 7:26-27 For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.

d) to show His exhaustless power over sin and death:

His Son was handed over to Satan to do his worst – he not knowing the scriptures or the power of God destroyed Jesus (as he thought).

Satan and his agents were baffled by God’s plan of redemption – ‘But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.’ 1 Cor 2:7

Had Satan understood the immense, incalculable blessing that would result from Jesus’ death he would have moved heaven & earth to stop the crucifixion

e) to identify with lost humanity

God identifies with His suffering world: no-one at judgement day will be able to say to God – ‘You don’t know what its like to be human’

.2 Cor 5:18, 19Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,   that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” TO GOD BE THE GLORY