Why Did Christ Die?

People ask many questions. Why is the sky blue? Why am I still attending school? Why am I asking questions… and the list runs on. Some of our questions are important. Some aren’t – like my 3 year old brother asking me why he isn’t spiderman. Students of Inductive Bible Study love to ask questions. Yes, as Precept students, we can all ask, “Who, What, Where, When, Why and How?”!

As Christians, we too ask many questions. Two of them are, “Why did Jesus have to die? Why can’t there be any other way for us to be saved?” And often, this is a question we’re sometimes shy to ask others. So, we go along with the flow, perhaps believing that Jesus is the only way, but not really understanding why. This question is central to the Christian Faith; and must be understood. Greater still, a clearer understanding of this will help us love Jesus more.

And this is what this post hopes to achieve: To give us a small glimpse of why Jesus had to die, in hopes that this will cause us to love Him more and appreciate His death more.

The Greatness of Our Sin

First, Jesus had to die because the greatness of our sin demands the payment of a great price. To understand why Jesus had to die, we must first understand what sin is. We commonly describe sin as ‘doing something wrong’ or ‘not doing the Christian thing’. While these definitions are not entirely wrong, I don’t think they fully capture the sinfulness of sin. What do I mean by ‘the sinfulness of sin’? I was first introduced to this phrase when I read a book by Ralph Venning. In it, Venning gives a thorough and convicting explanation of Romans 7:13. Something that pierced my heart when I read it was this: Sin is sinful first and foremost because of its opposition to God.

What do I mean? I mean sin is not simplistically something ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’. But sin is ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ because of its sinfulness. How is sin sinful?

Sin makes men an enemy of God. In our previous post, Holly Stavness has written very clearly on this subject and I highly recommend it to you if you’ve not read it yet. (Click here to read it). So again, how are we enemies of God?

Venning writes, “The sinfulness of sin not only appears from, but consists in this, that it is contrary to God. Indeed, it is contrariety and enmity itself. Carnal men, or sinners are called by the name of enemies to God (Romans 5.8 with 10; Colossians 1.21); but the carnal mind or sin is called enmity itself (Romans 8.7). Accordingly, it and its acts are expressed by names of enmity and acts of hostility, such as, walking contrary to God (Leviticus 26.21), rebelling against God (Isaiah 1.2), rising up against him as an enemy (Micah 2.8), striving and contending with God (Isaiah 45.9), and despising God (Numbers 11.20). It makes men haters of God (Romans 1.30), resisters of God (Acts 7.51), fighters against God (Acts 5.39 and 23.9), even blasphemers of God, and in short very atheists, who say there is no God (Psalm 14.1). It goes about to ungod God, and is by some of the ancients called Deicidium, God-murder or God-killing.”

How should God react to creatures who are filled with sin (Rom 3:23, Is 64:6, Ps 51:5)? Would God be just in any way if He did not utterly punish and crush such sin? More than that, how should God react to creatures who sin against His Son? It is us who mocked Christ, who spit in His face, and nailed Jesus to the cross. As the poet puts it:

‘Twas I that shed that sacred Blood,
I nailed him to the Tree,
I crucified the Christ of God,
I joined the mockery.

Therefore, ponder with me. In what ways could we have responded to God’s Justice? What could we have offered to pay for our sinfulness? Offer Him money? A few good deeds? 2 hours on Sundays? While these may be good, none of these can in any way pay for our insulting and mockery of God and His Son. God would not be just if He were to overlook sin. In short, there is nothing we could do to pay for our sins.

The Greatness of our Savior

The only way possible for justice to be satisfied, is that our sins must be paid for. Therefore, the only solution is this: A substitute. A substitute is someone who takes another’s place. An illustration: Ernest Gordon remembers an event on the Thai bridge during World War 2:
“A shovel was missing. The officer in charge became enraged. He demanded that the missing shovel be produced, or else. When nobody in the squadron budged, the officer got his gun and threatened to kill them all on the spot . . . It was obvious the officer meant what he had said. Then, finally, one man stepped forward. The officer put away his gun, picked up a shovel, and beat the man to death. When it was over, the survivors picked up the bloody corpse and carried it with them to the second tool check. This time, no shovel was missing. Indeed, there had been a miscount at the first check point.”

The man took the blame, so that the others would live. Christ did the same thing: Only, to an immensely greater degree. Paul writes, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

This is why Jesus is the only way: Because He alone (being sinless) can pay the immense price for our sinfulness by taking our place.

Why did Jesus have to die? The writer of the famous hymn ‘Amazing Grace’, John Newton, said, “Although my memory’s fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.”

Nothing in my hands I bring,
Simply to Your Cross I cling,
Naked, come to You for dress,
Helpless look to You for grace,
Foul, I, to the fountain fly,
Wash me Savior, or I die!


Daryl joined Transform Student Ministries this past summer serving in the Intern Program. When we asked Daryl for a short bio for the blog, he told us that he is a great sinner, and has a great Savior.

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[…] Anyway, related to this series, a snippet would be from a post I’ve previously written: http://transformstudent.org/2012/03/16/1879/ […]


[…] our desperate need for God to reconcile us to Himself and establish peace between man and God.  Daryl addressed the insurmountability of our sin and the greatness of the grace of God in offering His […]

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