Why Did Jesus Have to Die on the Cross?

Isiah 53:1-12
Acts 8:29-35

To ask why implies a different expectation. Why is your room not clean? Why is dinner not ready? Why is your homework not complete?

Man cannot understand why Jesus had to die on a cross in order for man to have a relationship with God.

When we look at ancient religions we see gods in the form of animals (i.e. the golden calf). The Greeks were the first to have their gods in the form of man. But even the Greek gods were created by the earth and sky and bounded by time.

The Bible is the only ancient document that describes God as having created time and space but He himself is outside of time and space.

1 Corinthians 1:18-25 - The word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing...
:23 - but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness,
Romans 1:16 - the power of God for salvation...

So from ancient times man has sought many ways to please the gods:

  • We can perform rituals, surely that will please God
  • We can build a tower up to heaven and make a name for ourselves, surely that will please God
  • We will perform "good works" in His name; that will lead to salvation
  • We will seclude ourselves and meditate all day raising us to higher levels of consciousness. Then we will be like God
  • We could build majestic marble temples to honor God

Man has strove to reach up to God, but he cannot by himself, God must provide the way.

I know, O LORD, that a man's way is not in himself
Nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps
- Jeremiah 10:23

Stumbling block to the Jews:

  • John 12:34 - Christ will live forever
  • Mark 8:34 - Peter to Jesus, do not die on the cross
  • Matthew 27:42 - Come down from the cross and we will believe

It is hard for us to understand the nature of sin. Man has such a casual attitude about it. God does not!

Reasons given in the Bible as to why Jesus must die on a cross:

I. Law of Sin and Death

Romans 8:2 - law of sin and death

Genesis 2:17 - ...you will surely die

There was no death of man or animals until man sinned. Because of man's sin, an animal died to clothe man (Genesis 3:21).

Five of the 10 commandments carried the death penalty.

Flood - God was grieved in His heart (Genesis 6:6).

Rain as if tears of God fell on the earth for 40 days until the earth was cleaned from sin.

Sin leads to death - Isiah 1:28, 13:9; Amos 9:10

Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death
 - James 1:15

Passover - lamb without blemish, His blood on the door post to heaven, darkness over the land, freed us from slavery (sin).

Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.
 - Luke 22:42

Jesus was saying: "God, is there not another way?" There must be another way to redeem man. There was not! If there was then Jesus died for no reason.

About the ninth hour, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?" that is, "MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?"
 - Matthew 27:46

The only time Jesus referred to His Father as God. Men had forsaken Him and now God.

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
 - 2 Corinthians 5:21
He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His would you were healed.
 - 1 Peter 2:24
Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said "It is finished!" And he bowed His head and gave up His spirit.
 - John 19:30

"It is finished" -- Paid in full.

so that, as sign reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
- Romans 5:21

II. Jesus must learn obedience

Why? Because He is our high priest.

Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
 - Philippians 2:8 

We must learn obedience to follow Christ's example.

III. God showed His love to man

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
 - Romans 5:6-9

IV. God must be glorified - man is not capable alone

"Father, glorify Your name." Then a voice came out of heaven: "I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again."
 - John 12:23-32

V. Prophesy must be fulfilled

The beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.
 - Luke 24:25-27


For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
 - Romans 8:2
Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would not longer be slaves to sin.
 - Romans 6:3-6
Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.
 - Acts 17:30 - 31