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Why did the Son of God need to die on the cross?

by Pastor Mike Birbeck - April 14, 2022

I have an idea for a new piece of jewelry. The guillotine necklace, a beautiful gold chain dangling a miniature representation of that ancient weapon of execution. Say it won’t catch on? Then riddle me this. How did that other piece of jewelry catch on: the cross? Was it not an even more inhumane method of execution? How did something soo violent become soo treasured? Or, to ask the question under the question: Why did the Son of God need to die on the cross?

There are four words we can use to answer this question.

The first word is reconciliation. Humanity has broken our relationship with God, and we all need reconciliation. Jesus came to us, because he knew we would not come up to him. The culmination of his reconciling work happened on the cross, where his death broke down the barrier, our sin, that separated us from God. We were all enemies of God, but because of the cross each of us can be adopted into God’s family.

The second word is redemption. We are all in enslaved to sin. The good we want to do we do not do. The evil we don’t want to do we do. Christ died on the cross to pay the price to free us from our slavery to sin. He freed us at the cost of his precious blood.

The third word is justification. Because we all sin, we are all guilty and owe a debt to God for our sin. The wages of sin is death. Christ died so that we need not die. Even more, because he lived the righteous life we were never able to live, those who unite themselves with him are counted as righteous before God. Jesus died to give us life, and give us life to the fullest.

The fourth is an old word but a helpful one: propitiation. God’s wrath is directed against all sin and evil in this word. That includes the sin in you and me. While God is never overcome by emotion, his wrath is his measured displeasure against all sin and evil. A God who did not treat evil and sin with displeasure would not be worthy of our worship. A God who is indifferent to evil and sin could scarcely be called good. When Christ died on the cross, he took upon himself God’s wrath against our sin and evil. On the cross, God’s wrath was satisfied.

What all these words have in common is that Christ takes our place at great cost to himself, not so that he could love us but because he loves us. And in case we need yet another reason, the great theologian John Stott said: “I could never myself believe in God, if it were not for the cross… In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it?”

“O sweet exchange!,” a second century letter exclaimed, “O unsearchable operation! O benefits surpassing all expectations! That the wickedness of many should be hid in a single Righteous One, and that the righteousness of One should justify many transgressors.”

Or to use the words of the Apostle John: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” [Jn 15:13]

Credits:

Videography: Andrew Moore
Video Editing: Andrew Moore
Writing: Pastor Mike Birbeck

Produced by Vogt Media
Home Page Sponsors: First Presbyterian Church Wellsboro

 
 
 
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