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Did Jesus REALLY Have to Die?

God doesn’t withhold forgiveness — He isn’t some petty deity eagerly waiting to condemn sinners to an eternity in Hell.

In Jesus, He offers us forgiveness, reconciliation and escape from the wrath of God.

Love and wrath meet.

Our problem is that we don’t see how something like “wrath” can fit with our understanding of God as loving. The two seem to be antithetical. They’re anything but.

One only has to look at a book like Romans (the whole point of which is to show both the reality of our sinful state and the glorious grace of God) to see this — in fact, you only need to look to that most famous of verses, John 3:16:

“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life” (HCSB, emphasis mine).

This is how God shows His love: By sending Jesus to the cross to rescue those who would put their faith in Jesus. The question of whether or not He could have done things differently is ultimately irrelevant. This is the way God chose to show His love.

The cross of Christ, ultimately, isn’t a mark of condemnation, but of rescue from the condemnation already upon us, something made clear in John 3:17-18:

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

Who are we, then, to call God’s ultimate demonstration of love unloving?

In Christ, He supremely expresses the command to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:44). In the cross, He is both “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26).

This, friends, is good news par excellence.

Did Jesus really have to die? Yes. For the wrath of God to be satisfied, Jesus had to die — and for the world to see God’s love most perfectly expressed, Jesus had to die.

And He also had to rise again.