WHY DID Jesus HAVE TO DIE? JOHN 3:1-18, ACTS 13:32-39 A.M. MODBURY 5/4/09 Today is called Palm Sunday. This is the day we remember that Jesus came riding into Jerusalem on a young donkey, just a colt that had never been ridden before. This was the beginning of the last week of Jesus’ life. He had the crowds in a frenzy as they welcomed him like a triumphant king returning from a successful battle. They waved palm branches and laid them and their coats down on the ground so Jesus could ride over them in their wonderful procession and they were calling out, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest!” But in reality, this was short lived. Sadly, many of those same people who shouted out in worship as Jesus entered Jerusalem, less than a week later, also shouted, “Crucify Him.” Why did Jesus go to Jerusalem if he knew he was going to die? Why did Jesus have to die? When I was growing up on the farm with my parents I had a dog called socks. He was called socks because he was black all over except for his feet and paws that were all white. I had socks all my growing years and he was a really good farm dog and knew how to round up the sheep and all the things a sheep dog should do, but as he grew older socks lost his sight. He was quite blind and he would run around the yard and down to the sheds and even though he knew where he wanted to go he would run into the fence and then go along it to find the hole where he knew he could get under the fence. He did really well for being blind. But one year when I was about 16 we were about to leave to go on holidays, at the West Beach Caravan Park, as we did for many years, and we couldn’t find socks anywhere. We went hunting for him and found that he had gone down to the machinery shed and died. I guess anyone younger would have asked, “Why did he have to die?” And the simple answer is, that he was very old and simply died of old age. I can also remember the many times when my dad and I would go out to a mob of sheep, round them up and then chase one down, tie it up, take it home to the same machinery shed and there dad would cut it’s throat. He would then set about skinning the sheep, gutting it and then letting it hang over night before cutting it up into the various cuts so that mum could freeze it and then cook it as needed. We didn’t have a butcher close by and we just killed our own sheep. And again, a young child might ask, “Why did that sheep have to die?” The answer is again a simple one, “So that we could eat it.” This morning I want to look at the whole question of, “Why did Jesus have to die?” I could give a very simple and quick answer and we could all go home in about two minutes. I know, there are some who would say that would be fine with them. But I think this question whilst it may be simple on one level it is much more complex on another. In fact, we could spend a real lot of time looking at this question, because it is such an important one that we can’t just give some glib answer. The simple answer is that Jesus had to die so that he could give us forgiveness for our sins so that we could have the opportunity of spending eternity with God. But that doesn’t explain a whole lot. Let me see if I can give this question a decent answer worthy of such an important issue. God created everything perfect and when he created man, Adam, he then also had to create a mate for him because there was no animal that could meet that need. God took a rib from Adam and used that as the DNA and basis to create a woman, Eve. Everything was great and Adam and Eve even walked and talked with God in the Garden of Eden and even though Adam and Eve were naked there was no shame or embarrassment because sin was not yet part of their world. But there did come a time when Adam and Eve did rebel against God, they did do what they were told not to do, and sin did enter their world. As soon as that happened Adam and Eve felt something they had never experienced before. They felt shame at the thought of God seeing them naked. So to hide their embarrassment they made some coverings out of leaves. Then God called to see them and walk and talk with them as usual, but they hid from him. They were too ashamed to show themselves. They had been sprung big time. They had rebelled against God and he and they knew it. When God found out, he realised what had happened and there were some very serious consequences of their rebellion, the worst of all is that their sin was now part of all mankind for all eternity, and God knew that there had to be a way for us to get right with him again. God also knew that the leaves that Adam and Eve used had a very short life span. So to cover their shame and their sin, God killed an animal and shed its blood to get some skins to make some nice leather outfits for them. I guess that might have been the beginning of a new fashion trend. Then because an animal had to shed its blood as a way of making things right with God again that practice was continued right throughout the Old Testament. With this coming week being Easter the Passover Seder is very important. If we look back to the time when God was releasing the Israelites out of captivity in Egypt, they shared in a special meal. Each family had to kill a lamb, not just so they could eat a lovely roast lamb and unleavened bread meal but also do what God said. God told them to put the blood of the lamb on the door posts of their houses so that when he sent the angel of death throughout the land wherever there was blood on the door posts it would Passover that house and the people inside would not be harmed. But in every house where there was no blood on the doorposts and lintels death came in and killed the firstborn, even Pharaoh’s firstborn died. That caused him to tell the Israelites to get out of Egypt, which they quickly did. In fact they were all packed and ready to go at a moment’s notice. So ever since that time the Passover has been celebrated in this special way with the various bitter herbs and things having very significant meanings. So for those who are sharing in the Passover Seder this Thursday, you are in for a very meaningful time, and not just a nice roast lamb meal. Why did Jesus have to die? Well, so that through the shedding of his blood the price God set for all those who sinned against Him, Jesus could pay. The price necessary for us to be set free from the eternal consequences of our sin, Jesus paid. He bought us back from Satan and redeemed us from his control. No longer would anyone need to kill an animal or bird to pay for their sins. No longer would there be this ongoing need to try and make things right with God through killing an animal, that really only lasted for a while, and the Law required them to do it time and time again. They had various feasts and sacrifices they had to make that were set down by God through Moses, but they were all inadequate to really deal with people’s sins. God knew he needed a way that would permanently do away with the consequences of a person’s sins, that of spending eternity in hell, which is the most horrible place you can’t even imagine, and the only way possible because of the standards God set, was through the death of his own sinless son. Anything less would not cut it. Anything less would mean that a much lower standard would be ok and then that all just comes down to the lowest common denominator of what someone might think is ok. Can you imagine a lesser standard that would be acceptable to God? If animal sacrifice was not enough, then what would be? In that sense anything we did, any lifestyle change we made, any habit we gave up, any good deed we did, any payment of money or whatever, was never going to be good enough. Only the death of His son was good enough. Only Jesus could pay the price because he was sinless. In our reading from Acts 13:38-39 we see the reason. “Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the Law of Moses.” Following the Law of Moses to the tee did not cover and deal with all the sins of the people. Only the death of Jesus does. Why did Jesus have to die? Because not only was he sinless and therefore the only one worthy of making this sacrifice on our behalf, but he was the only one who God could raise from the dead to reign with him in heaven for eternity. No one else could do that. Jesus may have raised Lazarus from his grave, but he died again, as did everyone else. As Acts 13:36-37 said, “For when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his fathers and his body decayed. But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay.” Jesus is with his Father in heaven and is interceding for us. Jesus did not see decay. He was raised to life by God as the only one who could defeat the last stronghold of Satan over mankind, that of death itself, and in his resurrection Jesus overcame that stronghold. Because of that, we too will be raised to an eternal life with God. Our bodies may see decay but our spirits will immediately go to be in the presence of Christ. For the sacrifice of Jesus to be meaningful and applied to our lives John 3: 3 says, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” Then verses 5 & 6 say, “Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” For any of us to enter into God’s presence we must be born physically and spiritually. Not only are we to come into this world through our physical birth but we must also enter into the Spiritual realm by accepting Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour and Lord. Then when we die physically our spirit will go to be with Christ for ever. There are two saying that I want to leave with you. “Christ died once and for all, for all.” And “Live once and die twice, or die twice and live once.” What that means is that if you simply live once, just living for yourself, then you will die both physically and spiritually, but when you choose to die twice, once to your own selfish desires when you accept Jesus as Lord, and secondly, die physically, then you only live once because your spirit will not die but go on to be with God. The choice is yours. Why did Jesus have to die? So that, each and every person on this earth could have the opportunity of choosing to spend eternity with God because of and through Jesus’ death and resurrection. As we lead up to Easter, I pray that all of us would take the time to really consider where we stand with Christ. In your life and choices are you calling out, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest!” Or are you calling out, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” If you know you need to get right with God, so that you can be assured of spending eternity with him in heaven, then make that choice now to fully give your life to Christ. He died for you. He is calling you, if you haven’t yet done so, to give your whole life to him. May we all choose to die twice and live once. May we all call out, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest!” and may we truly live that way. Prayer.
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