Monthly Article April 2015 – Why did Jesus die?

by Philip Robinson

The question, ‘Why did Jesus die’?, is a relevant question to ask yourself this Easter season. Why did Jesus lay down his life, making the greatest sacrifice in history? This is the most important question that someone can ever ask, for in the answer they will find their history, purpose, meaning, peace and freedom. The magnitude of this question cannot be understated, but unfortunately there are those who have attempted to avoid asking the question at all, often by offering an ‘alternative’ history which does not include the reality of Jesus, or any of the life changing effects that He should have on their lives.

The theory of evolution and all that this meta-narrative (big story) encompasses; the big bang, long geological ages, the origin and progression of life, has been set up as a direct alternative to the biblical account. A careful study of the motivation behind the origin of evolution and its continued religious propaganda by its devotees will clearly show that it aims to remove the roots of the Christian faith by expunging the creation account. This is so that the rest of the Bible need not be considered and that more specifically our question, ‘Why did Jesus die’?, need not be addressed. Many people use evolution as an excuse not to embrace the gospel message, stating that if the Bibles’ history is not accurate at the start, then why should they trust it elsewhere?

Atheist Richard Bozarth, writing in ‘American Atheist’, states, “It now becomes clear that the whole justification of Jesus’ life and death is predicated on the existence of Adam and the forbidden fruit he and Eve ate. Without the original sin, who needs to be redeemed? Without Adam’s fall into a life of constant sin terminated by death, what purpose is there to Christianity? None. What all this means is that Christianity cannot lose the Genesis account of creation…. Christianity is fighting for its very life”.

Bozarth is demonstrating here that the creation narrative, which includes the foundational doctrine of the fall of man into sin in Genesis 3, is of central importance to the Christian framework and that if only it could be got rid of, then the question of why did Jesus die need never be answered.

Articles on this website and others seek to answer questions in relation to the serious objections to evolution.

The background:

So why were Adam and Eve so important to the history of Christianity and what has Jesus’ death got to do with them? As the pinnacle of God’s creation, Adam and Eve, were made in the very image and likeness of God and had full communion with God in the Garden of Eden. They were able to interact with Him in a personal and one to one manner. Their relationship with God was perfect and unbroken and they had just one command to obey to ensure that that relationship continued. Adam had been told that they could eat of any tree in the Garden of Eden, except for the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Unfortunately this is exactly what Adam and Eve then did and in so doing, reaped the full consequences of their actions.

The Bible is clear that God had warned Adam, should he choose to disobey God and eat from this tree, that death would be the result. The fuller out-workings of just how far things would then change in the curse that God outlined in Genesis 3:14-19, in which God curses all creation and confirms to Adam that from the dust from which he was made, he would now return.

However, even in the curse outlined in these verses, God being gracious, He begins to outline His plan of redemption for humanity. In what is referred to as the ‘proto-evangelium’, (the first mention of the gospel, or good news), in Genesis 3:15, God spoke to the serpent (the devil) saying, “I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and hers, he will crush your head and you will strike his heel”. God was already pointing to a future time when through the seed of the woman (Jesus), He would crush the head of Satan and defeat the curse.

After Adam and Eve had rebelled against God they displayed a miserable attempt to conceal their sin from God, by attempting to hide from Him and clothing themselves with fig leaves. God still chose to display grace to them and made garments of skin to clothe them. This is the first implied death in the Bible, when God killed an animal to provide skins for Adam and Eve to cover themselves. By this act, God initiated the sacrificial system that required the spilling of blood to cover sin, a type of the perfect sacrifice to come (the Lord Jesus). Right from Genesis 3 there is a direct link between sin and death and the sacrificial system with a reference to Christ coming.

God highlights the separation now faced by Adam and Eve, as we read in Genesis 3:24, He drove them out of the Garden of Eden. Communion with God would no longer be the same, it was broken. This has been the mankind’s position from that moment until now. We are separated from God in our natural state and from the moment of birth the countdown timer starts as we start to die. Adam, as our federal head and as the forefather and progenitor of the human race has passed this separation and death onto us all.

Hebrews 9:27 tells us that we are appointed to die and then face God’s judgement.We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We cannot pay the debt we owe to God, no matter how hard we may try.

Answering the question:

This brings us back to the question, ‘Why did Jesus die and what are the implications for us? Why wouldn’t your death or mine, or indeed the death of the two thieves who were crucified along with Jesus do instead to appease God?

I have already alluded to the coming messiah in response to the curse back in Genesis 3. He would come through the seed of the woman and this theme is continued on throughout Scripture. In Isaiah 59:20 we read of the redeemer who will come to Zion, the word for redeemer in this verse literally means, one who is related to us by blood – He is our kinsman.

Jesus, as well as being fully God, had to be fully human to become a substitute for humanity. Hebrews 2:14–17 tell us that Jesus was able to die for mankind, because He “shared their humanity”. He must also be fully Divine (God) to perfectly fulfil the law of God.

Jesus, born fully human and fully God, lived a pure sinless life, offering himself up on the cross to God, shedding His blood, as the perfect sacrifice for sin. Jesus’ death was able to accomplish something that none of us are able to do. He, as a perfect sacrifice satisfied the wrath of God upon sin, (death being the punishment for sin, as indicated to Adam and Eve).

Jesus, who wore a crown of thorns on his head had, a symbol of the curse, redeemed us by becoming a curse for us. Jesus who did no sin became sin for us. As 1John 2:2 states, He became the propitiation for our sins. Propitiation simply means that he performed an act, made an atonement for our sin, turning aside God’s anger, so that God could then declare those who accept Jesus sacrifice, justified: a legal term which means to be declared guiltless. Jesus became our substitution. As the ‘last Adam’, (1Corinthians 15), he took away the curse that was brought on us by the first Adam.

Just as you and I physically exist here and now, so did Adam. He was a real man who brought sin and then death into this world. Jesus also physically existed. He physically lived and died in the country now called ‘Israel’, approximately 2000 years ago. His blood was literally poured out on the cross to pay the price for sin. He was physically resurrected back to life three days later, demonstrating that the sacrifice was accepted and that the price had been paid. It was finished.

These were real historical events. The Bible is a book of theology, but a theology that is outworked through historical events. Theology or religious living should never be disconnected from the reality of the historical price that Jesus paid.

When we learn this story of Jesus and see it as the story of the love of God doing for us what we could not do for ourselves, this insight should produce such a sense of astonished gratitude in the very depth of our souls.

So why did Jesus die? He died to accomplish something that none of us could. He died in order to pay the price for sin, allowing the broken relationship between God and ourselves to be restored. God provided a way that sin and death could be conquered and paid for in full. God paid the price himself by coming down to us in the person of Jesus Christ and giving himself willingly to die on a cross.

What next?

So where does all this leave us this Easter season when His historical and physical resurrection is remembered? How can you get rid of your sin, and be reconciled to God?

If you recognise that you are a sinner before God, that you have broken His law and that in judgement following death, you will stand condemned, there two options:

1 – You can ignore what you have just read, thinking you are doing nothing about it. But in effect you are doing something about it. You are rejecting this wonderful gift of salvation. In death you will face judgement and you will not be able to claim the blood of Jesus to cover your sins. As a consequence, you will suffer eternal punishment.


2 – If you sense the conviction of the Holy Spirit upon you now, you need to repent of your sin, (that means to say sorry and turn away from it) and then accept by faith the sacrifice the Jesus Christ made on the cross on Calvary, acknowledging Him as your Lord and Saviour.

There is no middle position, either you are in Christ, or you are bound for hell.