Over the years I've been asked, "Why did Jesus have to die?" Once an earnest seeker followed the question with these comments, "As a Christian I should know the answer, but I can’t think of any convincing explanation. No exemplar of any other religion that I can think of ended up getting killed because of his beliefs. Why wouldn't it have been possible for Jesus to spread his message and gain adherents like Mohamed, Moses and Buddha? Does Christianity only make sense by God deciding that Jesus had to be crucified?"
Why Did Jesus Have to Die?This incredibly important question involves a matter central to Christianity, yet effectively answering it is often difficult for Christians. We will take a careful look at the question and lay out the answers offered in Scripture.
However, before we answer the question, "Why did Jesus have to die?" it's also important to understand that Jesus clearly understood his mission on earth, and that it involved laying down his life as a sacrifice. In other words, Jesus knew it was his Father's will for him to die.
He proves his foreknowledge and understanding of his death in these passages from Scripture:
- Mark 8:31
Then Jesus began to tell them that he, the Son of Man, would suffer many terrible things and be rejected by the leaders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, and three days later he would rise again. (NLT) (Also see Mark 9:31)
- Mark 10:32-34
Taking the twelve disciples aside, Jesus once more began to describe everything that was about to happen to him in Jerusalem. "When we get to Jerusalem," he told them, "the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die and hand him over to the Romans. They will mock him, spit on him, beat him with their whips, and kill him, but after three days he will rise again." (NLT)
- Mark 10: 38
But Jesus answered, "You don't know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of sorrow I am about to drink? Are you able to be baptized with the baptism of suffering I must be baptized with?" (NLT)
- Mark 10:43-45
Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be the slave of all. For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom for many." (NLT)
- Mark 14:22-25
As they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread and asked God's blessing on it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, "Take it, for this is my body." And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. And he said to them, "This is my blood, poured out for many, sealing the covenant between God and his people. I solemnly declare that I will not drink wine again until that day when I drink it new in the Kingdom of God." (NLT)
- John 10:17-18
"Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father." (NKJV)
Now, on to answering the question, "Why did Jesus have to die?"