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Did Jesus REALLY Have to Die?

The message of the cross is far and away the most offensive message humanity will ever hear. It offends us to the very core of our being.

We want something palatable, friendly. Inoffensive.

Surely, any God who would do something as awful as punish an innocent man for the crimes of another is a fabrication.

Such a God is nothing less than a moral monster, the perpetrator of divine child abuse, some claim.

And yet, this is the testimony of Scripture:

“For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:23-24).

Paul calls the cross a stumbling block to those enamored with power and worldly wisdom. It is “folly to those who are perishing,” he writes, “but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18).

Is it any wonder, then, that so many — even professing Christians — balk at Christ’s death on the cross?

Did it have to be this way?

The question we must answer in looking at the events of Jesus’ death is a relatively simple one:

Did it really have to be this way? Did Jesus really have to die on the cross in order for God to forgive us?

Yes, it really did have to be this way.

That’s not a popular thing to say, but it’s true. Throughout history, the events of Jesus’ death and resurrection were hinted at and foreshadowed.

Even if we do acknowledge that there’s something wrong with humanity, God could make things right without having to kill Jesus, or so we’d like to think. If nothing is impossible for Him, then surely He could forgive us easily enough.

And if He doesn’t, then He’s being supremely unloving, isn’t He?

But from the very beginning, God declared that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23; cf. Gen. 2:17). From the moment Adam and Eve first disobeyed God in the garden, we’ve been condemned, doing what is right in our own eyes rather than obeying our Creator. We are what Paul calls children of wrath (Eph. 2:3), chasing after the passions of our flesh — doing whatever we want regardless of the cost — and suppressing the truth in unrighteousness.

Because we deny God, we were given up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.

“They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them” (Rom. 1:28-32).

We are — every one of us — without excuse, as the testimony of Scripture makes clear:

“None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

“Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.”

“The venom of asps is under their lips.”

“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”

“Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.”

“There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3.10-18″ data-version=”esv”>Rom. 3:10-18).

This is a grim message, to be sure. When you begin to recognize your natural self in the same way that God does it’s terrifying. Any illusions of subjective goodness are stripped away and we see that God is right to condemn us.

And yet, He doesn’t leave us without a means of reconciliation.