“Why Did Jesus Die on the Cross?”
Crowded. That’s the word I think of to describe airports. Even people without tickets jam the airports, willing to wait for flights with no guarantee of a seat. These “standbys” purchase tickets even when the plane is full, hoping someone won’t show up. But they have no guarantee of getting a seat.
No Standbys for Heaven… Christ’s payment for our sins doesn’t work like that. A trip to heaven is offered to every one of the billions of humans who have ever lived. Consider what John the Baptist declared about Jesus: “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29, NIV).
Pioneer missionary George D. Boardman said, “There is one ladder high enough to reach heaven…. the cross.” But what does that cross signify? Why did Jesus die on it? Why was such a sacrifice required?
1. Jesus died to pay for sin and rescue humanity. From the beginning of time, sin has demanded a blood sacrifice. In the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve sinned, God made “coats of skins” to cover their nakedness (Genesis 3:21)—suggesting the slaying of an animal. And throughout the Old Testament, the shedding of blood through animal sacrifice was the method God established to atone for sin. Through His death on the cross, Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice (Hebrews 10:14). He IS the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8).
2. Jesus died in fulfillment of many Scriptures. Jesus’ death on the cross was not simply a coincidence of time and place. His passion and death were foretold in great detail in Scriptures, including Psalm 22:16-18; Psalm 69:21, Isaiah 50:6 and 53:7; Zechariah 11:12 and 12:10. Isaiah 53:7 specifically describes our Savior as “a lamb that is led to the slaughter.”
3. Jesus died to destroy the works of Satan. Scripture tells us in 1 John 3:8 that the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the work of the devil. Through His death on the cross—as the ultimate sacrifice—and through His resurrection from death, Jesus reclaimed the greatest weapon the devil had, death, and rendered it powerless over those who believe in Christ.
The idea of a blood sacrifice has become unpalatable to many today, but the truth is that the ONLY way we as sinful human beings can be reconciled to a Holy God is through the shedding of blood. While the blood sacrifices of the Old Testament covered sins for a time, Jesus’ death on the cross atoned once and for all for our sin (Hebrews 9).
Now, we rejoice, for because of His sacrifice on that old rugged cross, “He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” (Hebrews 9:28)
I’m glad the Bible doesn’t say that Jesus takes away some of the sins of some of the people but instead promises that He takes care of the sin problem—completely. There are no ‘standbys’ for those who receive God’s gift of salvation. Heaven—and God’s way to get there—can accommodate everyone.