Why did Jesus have to die for our sin?

There is currently quite a controversy going on in the theological circles of England.  It seems someone has said we could be saved without Jesus death.  God could simply forgive sin, and indeed a God of love would do so without requiring punishment.  Requiring punishment, according to the thinking is sadistic and unworthy of God.  Further, it says letting Jesus go to Earth and die was child abuse if Jesus is truly the son of God.  This camp teaches God’s love and mercy saves sinners, and Jesus death on the cross, while proof of his love for us (He came even though He knew evil men would kill him)  was not necessary for salvation.

 

Clearly, the above is not what the bible teaches.  Every part of the bible either points to, prophecies about, or tells about one who would come to save mankind from sin.  The Old Testament rites of animal sacrifice and Passover foreshadowed it.  The prophets described the Messiah as a “suffering servant” who would save mankind.  Jesus talked about his coming death, and used the curious word “ransom”.  The apostles clearly explained that Jesus death was an atonement or payment for the sins of Men, and that belief in Jesus atoning sacrifice was the key to salvation.  Salvation is a work of grace, paid for by Jesus and acquired by faith.

 

Why could it not have been another way?  Now the creature is questioning the Creator, who obviously knows things we don’t know and can’t understand.  Beginning to ask these questions has a sense of arrogance about it that makes me want to tiptoe.  At the same time, begging God’s patience, I believe He does want us to defend our faith from the questions of skeptics as well as answer the questions of would-be believers who sincerely wonder.

 

I keep going back to the curious word “ransom” used by Jesus.  We know the first sin wasn’t the sin of Adam, but the sin of Lucifer.  Lucifer’s sin wasn’t one of questioning God, but the sin of pride.  Though He was God’s creature, He considered Himself equal to God, and tried to wrest the throne of God away for himself.  The Church Fathers said Lucifer’s words were “I will not serve”.  Scripture says a third of the angels followed Him.  A second chance was never offered to the angels.  Perhaps that’s because the unforgiveable sin isn’t doubting God, or even wanting to be like God, but blasphemy.  Lucifer defied God with full knowledge of what He was doing.  He wanted to BE God, and He had all the intellectual capacity and knowledge to know what that defiance meant.

 

Lucifer became Satan, God’s most powerful enemy.  Satan hates God, and wants to hurt God in the only way He can—through God’s creation.  So, Satan devised a plan to wrest God’s children, the humans away from God.  He used lies and deceit, and catered to the desires of the human for knowledge and power.  He put doubt about God into the heart of Eve.  Adam may not have doubted God, but seeing Eve taste of the forbidden fruit, He had a decision to make.  He could choose to side with his wife, or stand for God.  We know his choice.

 

When Adam and Eve sinned, they willingly sided with Satan against God, and broke their relationship with God.  It would be similar to a child today siding with criminals against their parents.  As in the case of today’s child and that of Adam and Eve, once the decision is made, it cannot be easily undone.  Adam and Eve had basically sold their souls to Satan for the knowledge and power He falsely promised them, and they could no longer buy their way out of their contract.  God would have to intervene.

 

Imagine this possibility: in the great halls of Heaven, before all the angels, court was held.  Justice sided with Satan, for the great Law of the Ages was that defiance of God (known as sin) would mean separation from God forever.  It could be no other way.  No defiance can pollute God’s perfect heaven.  There would be a price to pay for mankind’s freedom, and that was death, both physical and spiritual.  Only someone without sin could pay that price, for the sinners belonged to Satan.  And that someone would also have to be human, since it was humankind who was guilty.  But what if God himself became that sinless human?  This proposal may have taken Satan by surprise, as up till that moment He believed He had mankind won forever.  Indeed, Satan may have been the one to devise the methods of crucifixion through his evil influence over evil human imagination.  Perhaps he thought he could cause the fully human Jesus to shrink back from the horror of it.  But God, the all -powerful, all loving One, in his nature as the Son, came to earth as Jesus and hence became the “ransom”.  Thank you Jesus, forever, for what only you could do.  Thank you for loving us so much, before we were in any way worth loving.

 

Some have asked why God didn’t just destroy Satan at that point.  Therein lies more mystery.  There is a drama still to be played out before the great audience of Heaven, both angelic and human.  Part of that involves a triumph of God’s people over Satan and his armies of angels and humans.  And all humans have a choice: to choose for God or for Satan; to search for truth or search for what satisfies sinful desires; to serve God or to serve Self as Satan did. 

 

And beyond all these possibilities are many mysteries of God that are beyond mankind’s ability to discover or reason through.  As the apostle Paul said “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!”

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