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Why Did Jesus Have to Die?

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Romans 3:21-26 is a description of salvation. It’s perhaps the most important passage in the Bible. If you don’t understand that paragraph, you don’t understand salvation.
Tonight we will look at verse 25.
Romans 3:25 NLT
25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past,
In this passage tonight I want us to look at the meaning of the atonement -- why Jesus Christ had to die. It is the heart of the Gospel. We'll pull in some verses from other parts of Scripture and camp on this verse for a week because it's the most important doctrine in the Bible. It's the heart of Christianity. If you don't understand why Jesus Christ died for you, you don't understand Christianity.
No single explanation can adequately explain the full meaning of Christ's death. Throughout history, great men have emphasized different aspects of it. To better understand Christ's death, we must look at it from several viewpoints.

I. False Explanations

Here are a couple of things that Jesus did not die for...

1. Jesus did not die by accident.

Some people believe that the crucifixion was an accident… that Jesus was a victim of circumstances. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Jesus predicted his own death.
John 10:17–18 NLT
17 “The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. 18 No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.”
Jesus death wasn’t an accident. He didn’t die because he was forced to. The Romans probably thought he died because of them, but he didn’t.
When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane and a battalion of soldiers had come to get Him. They asked where Jesus was. Jesus walked up to them and said, "I am He" and they all fell backwards. A battalion consisted at least of 120 men. They came to take Him captive and they were so in awe, that these men, trained in combat and with their weapons on, fell over backwards in almost a faint. There was so much power in Jesus' life.
Nobody took His life from Him. He gave it voluntarily.

2. Jesus Christ died as a martyr.

He was a good man and He died for His cause. He was a victim of a corrupt world. He basically died for His principles. He wasn't God but just a good martyr -- like Martin Luther King or Kennedy... any person you name to be a martyr.
However, Jesus was not just a man, but God.
Acts 2:23 NLT
23 But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him.
This did not catch God by surprise. It wasn’t a surprise that Jesus was executed. It was predicted.
Why did Jesus die? It was a necessity. Jesus predicted his death many times. If there could have been any other way, don’t you think God would have used it.
Throughout history, great men have offered evidences or examples, illustrations of why Jesus actually had to die on the cross. These explanations are technically called the theories of atonement. They are true, each of them in their own way, but none of them are complete in themselves. To understand why Jesus had to die, you have to look at all the explanations that the Bible gives, not just one or the other.

II. Five Major Explanations of Christ’s Death.

1. The Ransom Explanation

Key Words: Ransom & payment

Main Idea: Jesus paid the price to set us free.

When someone is being held hostage, they demand a ransom. There was a ransom paid for Patty Hearst...
The very first person who proposed this idea was a man named Origin, back in the 3rd century. He said, Satan is in a war with God. He has taken all of humanity captive. Jesus Christ came to earth to exchange Himself for us as a hostage. So, Satan got Jesus and he thought he had won. But little did he know the power of Jesus. Jesus exploded through death and came back to life. And the trick was on the devil. And the penalty had been paid.
Scriptures: Mark 10:45, John 8:34-36, Rom. 8:2, Eph. 1:7, Titus 2:14, Revelation 5:9, 1 Cor. 6;20, Isaiah 61:1
Mark 10:45 NLT
45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
John 8:34–36 NLT
34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. 35 A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.
Romans 8:2 NLT
2 And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.
Ephesians 1:7 NLT
7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.
Titus 2:14 NLT
14 He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.
Revelation 5:9 NLT
9 And they sang a new song with these words: “You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.
1 Corinthians 6:20 NLT
20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.
Isaiah 61:1 NLT
1 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.
Who did Jesus pay the Ransom to? One theory is that he paid it to the devil because the devil was the one holding people hostage. It might have been paid to God to justify forgiveness…
Bottom line, our salvation cost Jesus a lot.

2. The Moral Influence Explanation

Key Words: love & example

Main Idea: Jesus died to demonstrate God’s love.

Jesus Christ died as an example of God's graciousness. Jesus Christ died to show us how much God loves people and that He really cares. Jesus Christ died on the cross (this idea says) in order to soften people's hearts and when you look at the cross you're moved to compassion and you want to say, "Lord, forgive me!" It helps us to be more loving and more grateful.
Thief on the cross
Luke 23:42 NLT
42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”
Jesus never preached a sermon to this guy. For all we know this was his first encounter. But just by looking at Jesus Christ on the cross, that man was moved to realize, Here was a man different from me and he asked him to save him - right from the cross. He was influenced right on the cross.
The Centurion
Luke 23:47 NLT
47 When the Roman officer overseeing the execution saw what had happened, he worshiped God and said, “Surely this man was innocent.”
Here is a guy who looks at Jesus from the foot of the cross and he says there's something different about this guy.
Is Jesus an example? Yes, but it’s only a partial truth. He is far more.
Scriptures: 1 Peter 2:21-23, 1 Peter 4:1-2, Eph. 5:2, Phil. 2:3-8
1 Peter 2:21–23 NLT
21 For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. 22 He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone. 23 He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.
1 Peter 4:1–2 NLT
1 So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you have suffered physically for Christ, you have finished with sin. 2 You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God.
Ephesians 5:2 NLT
2 Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.
Philippians 2:3–8 NLT
3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. 5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. 6 Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, 8 he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
So there is a legitimate reason for this approach. Jesus did die as an example of God's love. But there are some real weaknesses with this. Some cautions about this interpretation of the death on the cross.
Caution: Jesus death was more than an example.
Liberals love to emphasize this viewpoint. They like to say, "Jesus was a great example of sacrificial love" and that's it. But that does not take sin seriously enough. What that comes across as: All we need is an example and that is enough to make us do better.
I need more than an example to do better. I know what I ought to do; it's the power to do it! I don't find a problem with knowing what to do; my problem is getting the power to do what I know I ought to do. This is not enough.
Reality shows also that a lot of people know about Christ but it doesn't affect them at all. This view says, If you just talk about Jesus dying on the cross it will naturally make people want to live godly, loving lives. A lot of people know that Jesus died on the cross but it has no affect on their lives. There is a weakness there.
Caution: God has already shown His love many ways
He had already shown it in the Old Testament. If all Jesus' death did was to show that God loved us, that was a waste. Because He had already shown in many ways that God loves us. He could have done it without such an expensive way of His own Son dying on the cross.
Jesus is an example, but much more.

3. The Victory Explanation

The military viewpoint.

Key Words: Power, triumph & Victory

Main Idea: Jesus defeated the devil

History is a battleground. It's a battle between the forces of good and evil. It's very similar to the ransom theory that God paid Satan, He broke away from the devil's power. But it goes further than that. The victory explanation basically says Jesus, when He died on the cross, guaranteed the defeat of Satan. Destruction and doom is guaranteed for the devil. He neutralized the devil's power in our lives if we believe.
Believed by: Martin Luther...
Scriptures: Hebrews 2:14-15, John 16:33, John 19:30, Col. 1:13, 2:14-15, 1 John 3:8, Rev. 17:14, Gal. 1:4
Where did it come from?
Hebrews 2:14–15 NLT
14 Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. 15 Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.
Jesus was 100% God and 100% man.
This is talking about the battle between the devil and the Lord. Jesus came to destroy the power of the devil and set people free. He didn't just pay a ransom but He came to devastate the devil. The devil is living on borrowed time. He already knows his time is over. He's read the book of Revelation too. When you start getting up tight read the book of Revelation. What is the theme of Revelation? The whole book of Revelation teaches one thing -- we win! We win in the end! That's why it was such a comfort when John wrote it to the Christians who were being persecuted by Nero. They thought that Nero was the devil in the flesh. They thought Nero was the antichrist.
Colossians 1:13 NLT
13 For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son,
We have been transferred from one kingdom to another. That's the victory then -- triumph! Easter! God has devastated the enemy -- Satan -- and delivered us from death to life. From darkness to light. Jesus has destroyed our ultimate enemy.
Colossians 2:13–14 NLT
13 You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.
The written code and it's regulations was the Law. All of the Law of the Old Testament. That Law that we saw in the first few weeks as we looked at Romans. The Law that condemned us. The Law has never saved anybody. It only points out that we can't make it on our own. Jesus took that Law that condemned everybody and He nailed it to the cross so that we are free from that law.
Colossians 2:15 NLT
15 In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.
He's talking about spiritual beings. Satan, his legions, his demons. He made a public spectacle of them. The early Christians made fun of the devil; they laughed at death. They thought Easter was a big joke on the devil. Can you imagine being a Pharisee, putting Jesus Christ to death on the cross and then a week later somebody coming up to you and saying, "Remember that guy you killed last week end? He's alive! He wants to see you!"
John 16:33 NLT
33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
John 19:30 NLT
30 When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
He did not say, "I am finished." Big difference! He wasn't finished. It is finished" -- the battle has been won. Victory assured. Satan's powers smashed. He is a lion still roaring but his teeth are pulled out. One day he's going to be totally destroyed. He's on limited access now and the power of Satan over your life is ineffective if you're a believer living for God. That's what this victory is all about.
1 John 3:8 NLT
8 But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil.
Revelation 17:14 NLT
14 Together they will go to war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will defeat them because he is Lord of all lords and King of all kings. And his called and chosen and faithful ones will be with him.”

4. The Relationship Explanation

2 Corinthians 5:17–20 NIV84
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

Key Words: Reconcile & Ambassador

Once you're right with God your duty is to go tell everybody else. God's not mad at you! Get the message out. God wants to be your friend. He wants to love you. He wants to be in a relationship with you. He doesn't want to have a barrier. He doesn't want to judge and condemn you. Jesus Christ took the condemnation on the cross. He wants to be in harmony with you. He reconciles us and He has given us the ministry of reconciliation. That means not only sharing the message but helping people get along with people.

Main Idea: We are separated from God but Jesus brought us together.

Scriptures: Eph 2:12-16; Col 1:20-22;
This principle concept is taught through Scripture. Ephesians 2:12-16 says we were separated from God but Jesus brought us together.
Ephesians 2:12–16 NLT
12 In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope. 13 But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ. 14 For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. 15 He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. 16 Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death.
Colossians 1:20–22 NLT
20 and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross. 21 This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. 22 Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.
Colossians 1:20-22 says God was in Christ reconciling us. The Bible also teaches that Jews and Christians are reconciled together. This concept tells us that Jesus Christ died to bring us back together.
Caution? It's true.
He did bring us together. But, like the others, it's incomplete. It doesn't explain how God can forgive sin and still be holy. That's why we have to come to the last of the five major explanations. This is the explanation taught most throughout scripture. It is the number one and the primary explanation of why Jesus died.

5. The substitution explanation.

Romans 3:25 NIV84
25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—

Key Words: Sacrifice & Atonement

This is a legal explanation… a courtroom concept and term.
God is the judge and all have sinned. The wages of sin is death. We deserve punishment.

Main Idea: Jesus took our place on the cross

Jesus come to the court as our advocate and says, they are guilty. They deserve to be punished. But I will take their punishment for them. Thats what Jesus did.
Scriptures: Heb 9:28; 2 CO 5:21; Gal 5:21; Romans 5:8; 1 Peter 3:18; 1 John 2:2; 1 CO 5:7; John 1:21.
Hebrews 9:28 NLT
28 so also Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.
He came the first time to die for our sins. He died for many. One was the substitute for everybody else. Jesus was nailed to the cross so you can stop nailing yourself to the cross. Jesus was hung on the cross so you can stop hanging yourself. Jesus was condemned so you can stop condemning yourself. He was the substitute.
2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV84
21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
The one who deserves to die is set free while the one who does not deserve to die - dies in his place.
Galatians 3:13 NIV84
13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”
He took our condemnation. He is a substitute. Every time you see the phrase "for us" that's this concept of substitution.
Romans 5:8 NLT
8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
1 Peter 3:18 NIV84
18 For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit,
1 John 2:2 NLT
2 He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.
1 Corinthians 5:7 NLT
7 Get rid of the old “yeast” by removing this wicked person from among you. Then you will be like a fresh batch of dough made without yeast, which is what you really are. Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us.
Yeast, in the Bible, is always referring to sin. It infects. It puffs up. The Bible says that knowledge puffs up, pride puffs up, sin puffs up. Yeast is always an example of sin.
"For Christ, our passover lamb, has been sacrificed." Remember in Leviticus, on the Day of Atonement two goats were selected. One goat was sacrificed for the entire nation. The other goat, they would lay hands on that goat, the priest would symbolically confess all the sins of the nation on that goat. That's literally where we get the term scapegoat. That one goat takes all the sin of a nation. That goat was taken out into the wilderness and set free to represent gone for evermore. Here it says, Jesus Christ is that lamb.
John 1:29 NLT
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
Jesus is our substitute.
Caution: Don't make it seem that God gets angry and Jesus intervenes. This would make you love Jesus but hate God. We were guilty and deserving of death, but God said I’ll take the punishment. He took our place.

III. What should our response be?

1. We ought to hate sin.

1 Peter 1:15 NLT
15 But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy.
God wants us to live pure lives, holy lives. Living as best we can in the power of the Spirit without sinning. Why should we hate sin? Look what it did to Jesus. If you want to know how bad sin is, look at the cross.
Society teaches us to laugh at sin. The way society tries to get something to be acceptable is to get us to laugh about it. I don't think it was any accident that a number of years ago, adultery started creeping into sitcoms before they were in dramas. You start laughing at it. Homosexuality first appeared on TV in situation comedies before they started having movies come out on AIDS victims. If you laugh at something your resistance is lowered.
Sin is not a laughing manner. Look what it did to Jesus Christ.

2. We ought to love Jesus.

When we realize what Jesus did for us, it ought to bring us to our knees in repentance.
1 John 4:9–10 NIV84
9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
IOW we love him because he loved us first. He gave Himself for us.
And because He loves us we love Him in return. If He loved us enough to leave heaven, come to earth, die on the cross then we surely owe him our devotion. God has never met a person He didn't love.
Romans 8:32 CEV
32 God did not keep back his own Son, but he gave him for us. If God did this, won’t he freely give us everything else?
Jesus solved your biggest problem when He died for your sin. Any other problem you have is minor in comparison. If He loved you enough to take care of your sin, He loves you enough to take care of your needs. We ought to hate sin and love Christ.

3. We ought to get the word out.

2 Corinthians 5:14 NIV84
14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.
Can you imagine an event as important as the cross yet it was kept a secret? If somebody died for you wouldn't you want to know about it? If I had the cure for cancer don't you think I'd be obligated to share it with others?
This is why we do what we do. Everybody deserves to hear what we're talking about tonight. That Jesus Christ died for every single person here. We are commanded to share. The love of Christ compels us -- that's the motive. If that person lives and dies without knowing Christ, then for that person the death on the cross was a waste. Because it never got to him.
We want to see people who are wandering around, come home to God as we learned Sunday.
What is our response to the fact that Jesus Christ died on the cross for us?
We hate sin because we see what it did to Jesus, we see what it does to people. We love Christ. We share that message.
Outreach is the top priority of the church. Evangelism is the number one priority. That's what God says.
Luke 15:3–7 NLT
3 So Jesus told them this story: 4 “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. 6 When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!
God is more happy when one person becomes a believer than seeing 99 persons in fellowship.
Outreach is so important that the Bible says a shepherd leaves 99 safe sheep to go look for one lost one. That's how important it is. Even if we've got 99% of the West Bank saved, if there is one lost sheep you've got to reach them! This church can never stop trying to reach one more…
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