The 'Why' of it all
Jesus died on the cross for all your sins
Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He came to earth, fully man and fully God, and he lived the life of a man, teaching his sheep, and finally being brutally beaten and hung on a cross, shedding his blood for the sins of all mankind.
For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believess in him will not perish but have eternal life. — John 3:16 (NET)
So why did Jesus have to come to this earth and die on a cross? Well, the cross was simply the vehicle. Prophecy does tell us that the Messiah will sacrificed as the Passover Lamb (Isa 53:7), he would be beaten (Isa 50:6) to the point of disfigurement (Isa 52:14), that he will be pierced in the hands and feet (Ps 22:16), among many more prophecies. It doesn’t specifically say that Jesus would be killed on a cross.
Jesus died because men are sinners. Being in sin we are unclean and imperfect. We are unworthy to stand before God. And due to this sin we are deserve to be put to death according to the law.
In the Old Testament, God appointed the Levites to be priests over the Israelites. There were ritualistic ceremonies that needed to take place. Many of these have been simplified in teachings today, and I’m not going to get into the depth of it all here. But for various sins there were remedies that God put in place to pay for the sin. It might be a dove or it might be another animal, like a sheep. The law stated that there must be a blood sacrifice to atone for the sins. All through the year people would bring offerings to the priests to gain atonement for their sins.
Once each year there was a ceremony called the Day of Atonement that took place. In this, Aaron, the High Priest, would present offerings on the altar before God. You can read the details in Leviticus 16. Aaron was to sacrifice a bull for his own cleansing, to allow him to enter the Holy of Holies where he would sprinkle the blood on the atonement lid which sits above the Ark of the Covenant.
He would then take two goats and cast lots. One goat would be chosen as the sacrificial goat and be killed on the altar, its blood taken and sprinkled again on the judgement seat of the Lord in the Holy of Holies. The living goat then has the blood of the sacrificed goat laid over its head, and it is to be taken into the desert and released to Azazel (more on that in a future post).
The interest in this ritual is that blood must be shed for the remission of the sins of the people. The bull killed and the blood spread for Aaron’s sins, and once he is clean, then the goat is killed, and its blood is spread for the people’s sins. Their sins represented in the shed blood of the goat are laid upon the scapegoat (living) and sent away from the people — their sins carried away.
Since goats and bulls cannot fully redeem a person, this ritual would have to be performed each year. It would take a man to die and shed his blood for the people to make a permanent payment for sin — and this is what Jesus would do. It could not be just any man, though, because the sacrifice must be without spot or blemish, and, again, thus we have Jesus who led a pure and sinless life. His death was that of a perfect Lamb, an acceptable offering before God, to pay for the sins of all mankind.
There is a lot of detail missing there, but that is the gist of it. Jesus atones for your sins and washes them clean with his blood and removes them and carries them away. He trades your sin for his righteousness and he robes you in a white robe of righteousness so that you may enter into the courts of God and stand before his throne without a spot or blemish — because Jesus paid the price in your place.
We can look at Jesus and see all that he has done for mankind. He suffered and he died and he spilled his precious blood so that we would be cleansed of our sin and be able to stand before the Father without blemish.
He did this because he was a perfect man who was doing what a bull or a goat or a lamb could not do. He lived his life in perfection, without sin, without blemish. He was truly the perfect lamb and the only one who could offer a sacrifice that would be pleasing to God.
It is like the Passover. The Israelites were to kill a perfect, young lamb. They would paint their door posts with the blood. And when the Lord passed over he did not attack any house with the door posts painted in blood. The blood saved them.
Your lamb must be perfect, a male, one year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. 6 You must care for it until the fourteenth day of this month, and then the whole community of Israel will kill it around sundown. 7 They will take some of the blood and put it on the two side posts and top of the doorframe of the houses where they will eat it. 8 They will eat the meat the same night; they will eat it roasted over the fire with bread made without yeast and with bitter herbs. 9 Do not eat it raw or boiled in water, but roast it over the fire with its head, its legs, and its entrails. 10 You must leave nothing until morning, but you must burn with fire whatever remains of it until morning. 11 This is how you are to eat it—dressed to travel, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. You are to eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover. 12 ‘I will pass through the land of Egypt in the same night, and I will attack all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both of humans and of animals, and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment. I am the Lord. — Exodus 12:5-12
The firstborn of the Egyptians would be killed. Animal’s firstborn would be killed. And if there were Israelites who did not follow the rules, they would lose their firstborn as well. Only if you were covered with the blood were you saved.
We could, if we wanted to, take this back to when Adam and Eve sinned in the garden and God killed an animal, spilling its blood so that he could clothe them in the hide of the animal. But again I would ask why. Why is this need to shed blood even a part of the equation?s Why did God suddenly decide that something or someone had to die and shed their blood as a covering for the sin in order for the people to be saved? Why not simply require them to ask for forgiveness and then, with a word, absolve them of their sin?
You see for years and years we look at what Jesus did on the cross and we project that to the Old Testament stories of Passover or the Day of Atonement and we say “that is why Jesus had to die! Blood is needed!”
But why? Why did God choose that blood was needed. Jesus had to die a most horrific death after being beaten and his flesh ripped from his body. He had a crown of thorns jammed into his scalp. Do you realize what a cat-o-nine tails does to a body. It comes in a number of variations. Some have metal balls at the end. Some have pieces of sharp bone. Others have sharp hooks. They will literally rip the skin from a body.
This is a brutal form of punishment. Jesus took 39 lashes with this type of whip. Thirty-nine strikes with a multiple corded weapon with metal shards tied into it. His body was torn apart. He was left bleeding and in pain, only then to be taken to the cross and nailed through his wrists and his feet and left to suffocate to death.
And we look to the Old Testament and see sacrifices of lambs, goats, bulls and other animals and we simply stop and say that this is what Jesus was dying for: to shed his blood to cover our sins, to wash them away so that we could stand before God.
And I say why not go further back? Why not ask the question of why? Why do we need blood to cover our sins? Why can’t God simply absolve us of our sins and say that we are healed? He’s God — he can do whatever he wants. If he wanted to simply say “hey, no harm, no foul. I told you not to eat of the tree and now you see how bad it can be. Don’t do it again.” But no, something must die. Yet the animals were not good enough. After all, God is God. He could have said that the animals were enough. Keep doing the Day of Atonement. No, he wanted a man who lived his life perfect to be the sacrifice. And he wanted that man to be brutally beaten and torn apart. He wanted that man to suffer and die on a cross. He wanted that man to die an absolutely painful and disgraceful death, so that there would be shed blood to atone for the sins.
So this is the God that we serve. This is the God that says he loves us — all of us.
Even Jesus. Especially Jesus. And the one that he loves the most he made walk to a hideous punishment ending in death. You’re telling me that the God of this universe couldn’t come up with something else? There is nothing above God. He is not required to follow some law or rule that says that blood must be shed. God decided this was the answer. Of all the answers that he could have decided upon, death and near dismemberment was the best he could think of.
But this is what we have. This is not only what God decided, but this is who he is. When the priests of the Old Testament offered up a burnt offering the bible tells us that it was a sweet smell to God. This is who God is. He desires that sin be punished in this cruel manner. He demands it.
And this is who we serve? This is who we bow down and praise for his goodness?
We accept it at face value.
But then again, we really have no choice. Either he is our God, or we have no god.