Seven Reasons Why Jesus Died
It is surprising that after nineteen hundred years of Gospel light and testimony, one often finds professing Christians who manifest great ignorance in regard to the most important fundamental truths of the Word of God. I do not know how many times I have had people come to me—people who had faith in Christ—and put the question in all seriousness, “Just why did Christ have to die in order that we might be saved?” I want to show from the Scripture seven very clear, definite reasons for which Jesus died.
The first Scripture is found in 1 Corinthians 15. In the opening verses we find that the truth of the death of Christ is the very foundation of the Gospel. There could be no Gospel without this. The Gospel is not a message about Christ as a world teacher, or Christ as a great example; but the Gospel has to do with the Christ who died. “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.” You see, there is such a thing as believing in vain: that is, it is quite possible to give a mere mental assent to certain Bible truths, and yet never definitely trust Christ for one’s self. Now all who profess to believe the Gospel are not saved, but only those who have received the truth into their hearts and manifest it by continuance in the way of life. “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.” Here is the first great fundamental: “Christ died.” Most people believe this: that is, in that part of the world which has had the knowledge of the Bible. But notice what the apostle adds, “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.” Christ died: that is a historical statement. “Christ died for our sins” is a declaration of a great dogmatic truth. It gives us the very first reason for which Christ went to the cross. He gave Himself there as a ransom for our sins. We deserved to die; we never could have come up out of death if the judgment of God had fallen upon us because of our sins. Therefore, the Lord Jesus Christ gave Himself as a propitiation for our sins and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. The apostle Paul could say, “The Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” Can you say that? Do you see Christ taking your place upon that cross, bearing the judgment that your sins deserved? We read in Romans 5:8, “God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”; and again, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (verse 6). The Lord in infinite grace took our place upon that cross: “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). This is the first great truth, the first reason for which Christ died: He died for our sins.
Turn to Romans 5:10 and notice another reason: “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” Here is the second reason for which Christ died: to reconcile us to God. Men and women are in an actual state of enmity against God. This does not always show up in the beginning of life, but after years have passed, unless they have been brought to trust in Christ in childhood, they soon manifest that the natural heart is in a state of enmity against God. Men want to live their own lives; they want to go their own ways. That is what we do before we are saved. God desires men to be reconciled to Him. It is the business of the Gospel preacher to go to men in Christ’s stead, offering reconciliation. We are told that “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19). That beautiful, lovely life of Jesus failed to reconcile sinful men to God, but when one sees for the first time that Christ took his place—that Christ died for him—that is what breaks down the hardness of the heart and does away with the enmity and reconciles us to God. If I am speaking to anyone who is still out of Christ, I would like to take you by the hand and lead you to Calvary’s cross and point you to the blessed Son of God, and remind you that He loved you and gave Himself for your sins, and there manifested the wonderful love of God for lost men.
There is a little hymn which people sang when I was a lad. It has always meant a great deal to me:
“O’er this wide waste I loved to roam
My back on God, and heaven, and home,
Till Jesus met me far astray
And beckoned me to come away.
He said on Calvary’s cross He died;
A sacrifice for sin was made,
And all because He loved me so.
Then how could I do less than go?”
It was this that broke my heart as a lad of fourteen. God grant that you may catch sight of that cross and see that Christ Jesus died for you; and you, too, will be reconciled to God.
The third reason for which Jesus died is brought before us in the eleveneth chapter of John’s Gospel. The leaders of the people were disputing concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. In verse 49 of this eleventh chapter we read, “And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, nor considered that it is expedient from us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.” Now Caiaphas did not mean to preach the Gospel when he said that. What he had in mind was this: the Pharisees feared that the Jews might get into trouble with the Roman government because of the teaching of Jesus. Word might be carried to Rome that Jesus was stirring up sedition. He was hailed by many as King of the Jews. Rome might be aroused against the Jews because of this. So Caiaphas really meant, “What we need to do is to apprehend this Jesus and put Him to death, for it is better that one Man should die for the people than that the whole nation should perish. It will be better for us to take matters into our own hands than to wait for the Roman government to inflict punishment upon us as a nation.” But notice what the Holy Ghost has to say: “This he spake not of himself.” Caiaphas himself did not realize what was embodied in his words when he said, “One Man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.” “This spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; and not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.” That is the third reason why Christ died: in order that He might save those in Israel who put their faith in Him, and that He might gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. You remember on one occasion He said to His disciples, “I am the Good Shepherd”; and He told how He came seeking His own sheep. He added, “Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear My voice, and there shall be one flock, and one Shepherd.” He was referring to the Gentiles when He used the expression “other sheep.” He looked beyond the confines of the Jewish fold and saw the Gentiles who were poor, lost sinners, such as you and I; and He said, “I must find them and bring them in.” All who put their trust in Him become part of that one flock, and there is one Shepherd over them. Jesus died to do this very thing: “That He should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.” On another occasion He said, “He that gathereth not with Me, scattereth abroad” (Matthew 12:30). And so those of us who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ constitute the one flock. We all belong to the one Shepherd, and we should have the same love toward one another. When you find Christians giving way to unkind feelings, envy, jealousy, and harsh criticism toward one another, they are actually going contrary to one purpose for which Jesus died. He died that He might unite us all in one; and when we allow ourselves to say and do things that disturb that unity, then we are acting contrary to one purpose for which He suffered.
The fourth reason why Christ died is found in Hebrews 2:14-15: “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy (or render powerless) him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” It was Satan who brought death into the world, who deceived our first parents and caused them to sin against God, and as a result they came under that sentence, “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17). And so death terrorized all men. The Old Testament saints never had a clear understanding of justification by faith as we have; they did not comprehend the full meaning of redemption in the way we do if we are instructed by Scripture. Even the godly king Hezekiah when he heard he was going to die, was filled with fear. He turned his face to the wall and pleaded with God to prolong his life. But our Lord Jesus Christ died in order that He might render powerless him that had the power of death. He has gone down into death and robbed death of its sting by triumphing over it. He said, “I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, and have the keys of hell and of death” (Revelation 1:18). Now as we gaze upon our blessed Risen Saviour, death loses all its terror. We are no longer afraid of death; the fear is gone because the sin question is settled; and we know Satan, our great enemy, has been defeated.
We have a little picture of this in the Old Testament. For forty days the Philistines came out against the Israelites. Every day the great Philistine champion, Goliath, an enormous man, about nine feet tall, clothed in brass, strutted up and down before Israel’s encampment, saying, “Choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me. If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us. And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together” (1 Samuel 17:8-10). The people of Israel trembled as they heard this. Goliath was a type of Satan himself. All the people were afraid; they said, “We cannot stand before him. He is stronger, taller, more able than any of us.” Then David came and heard the words of Goliath, “Choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me.” David said, “Here is a man.” The Philistine disdained him. Goliath said, “Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves? And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. And the Philistine said to David, Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field. Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, who thou hast defied” (1 Samuel 17:43-45). David put a stone in his sling and ran forward as he slung it; and we read that it sank into the forehead of Goliath, and David hastened to the giant and drew out his sword and cut off the head of the one who had held the power of death for so long. What a picture! It tells of our Lord Jesus Christ going down into the valley of death and there destroying him that had the power of death that all who had been under the fear of death might be delivered.
Now let us turn to another Scripture, the Epistle to the Galatians, 1:4, where we have the fifth reason for which Jesus died: He “gave Himself for our sins.” “Yes,” you say, “we have had that.” But notice what follows, “That He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Jesus died to deliver us from this present evil world. If you have professed to trust in Christ and you are still going on with the world that crucified Him, you are thwarting one of the purposes for which Jesus died. I wish you would keep that in mind. Listen to me! Let me make it very practical. Suppose you really trust Christ. You are a Christian, but there is something of a thoroughly worldly character to which you are invited. You wonder what to do about it. The Word of God says, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:15-16). You should not hesitate, but you do hesitate. You say, “Well, there will be a lot of nice people there; why not go on with them?” Finally you decide to go. The moment you do that you are thwarting one of the purposes for which Jesus died, “to deliver you from this present evil world.” He died that He might gather out of the world a people who would walk in fellowship with Him as the rejected One. When I was a boy I heard of a man who had murdered a certain farmer, and yet there was something about it that he escaped the penalty of the law. While many were absolutely sure that he was the murderer, it was not so demonstrated in court, and he was allowed to go free. Sometime afterward he sought the hand of the widow of the murdered farmer. He went to her and offered her all kinds of inducements to become his wife. She turned from him and exclaimed, “Never! You murdered my husband, and now you dare to insult me by offering me your blood-stained hand!” Young Christian, the hand of this world is stained with the blood of Jesus, and when you grasp that blood-stained hand you are dishonoring the Christ who died to deliver you from this present evil world. Oh, let us never forget what the world did to Jesus! If our hearts are really taken up with Him we can stay without any hesitancy:
“Take the world, but give me Jesus,
All its joys are but a name:
But His love abideth ever,
Thru’ eternal years the same.”
The sixth reason for which Jesus died is found in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15: “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that He died for all, that they which live should not hence forth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again.” Jesus died in order that you and I might not live selfishly but live lives wholly devoted to the glory of God and the blessing of lost men and women. He died that they who live—who trust in Him, who have profited by His death—should henceforth not live unto themselves but unto Him who loved them and gave Himself for them. May I put the question: For whom are you living? For the world, or to please yourself? Many will say, “I have my own life to live, and I am going to live it as I please.” We used to say that before we were saved. Now we are no longer to live unto ourselves but unto Him who loved us and gave Himself for us. So the Holy Spirit says, “I beseech you there, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable (intelligent) service” (Romans 12:1).
Just one more reason for which Christ died. In the first Epistle to the Thessalonians 4:9-10, we read, “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ. Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.” Jesus died for us that we might live together with Him. In this chapter the apostle is speaking of the difference between the Lord’s coming for His saints, and the great day of the Lord when He comes in judgment. He points out that when believers are alive here on Earth they live unto God; when death comes they are asleep, put to sleep by Jesus. Jesus died for us that whether we wake or sleep we should live together with Him: that is, He died for us that when He comes again, whether we are numbered among the living on Earth, or whether our bodies are crumbling away in the tomb, it will make no difference, we shall live together with Him. “For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” For this Jesus died: that He might have us all together with Himself in the glory.