Today is known as Good Friday, the day that Jesus was crucified. This is a somber day knowing that Jesus died for the sins of all mankind. For many they never question the “why” behind Jesus’ death, they answer simply that He didn’t die, He was murdered – publicly executed as a felon. The religions leaders of the day felt that His teaching was dangerous and subversive. They felt His attitude disrespected their laws, that His claims of being God disrespected the local government and was, to say the least, blaspheme.
To both the religious leaders and the government Jesus was a revolutionary, He started a movement known as The Way. And regardless of whether He was seen primarily as a threat against the religious leaders or the government, the outcome was that He was crucified on Friday – today – Good Friday – as a law breaker, a common criminal.
If it were not enough to blame the religious leaders or the government officials or the Roman soldier, we could also blame Judas, the disciple who betrayed Him. But it is too easy to pass the blame to any of these.
There is not a lot in the Bible about the actual crucifixion of Jesus, we know that the Roman soldiers were the ones who carried out the sentence of death by crucifixion for Jesus, but there are few details. We get the details of a crucifixion from the contemporary authors of the day.
First a prisoner was publicly humiliated by being stripped of all their clothes. Then he would be laid on the ground against his wooden cross while his hands were nailed to the cross beam and his feet were nailed to the vertical pole. The cross would be hoisted to the upright position and placed in a hole that had been dug in the ground. There was typically a peg that was used as a seat to keep the weight of the victim’s body from being torn loose. He would hang on the cross helplessly, enduring intense pain, public humiliation and ridicule, the heat of the sun and the cold of the desert night air. It was a slow painful torturous death, often lasting several days.
We don’t get all of these details from the writers of the New Testament, we only know that Jesus began carrying His own cross to the place where He was to be executed, He stumbled under the weight and a man named Simon from the country of Cyrene in North Africa was chosen from the crowd by the Roman soldiers and forced to carry Jesus cross the rest of the way for Him.
After arriving at the place called Golgotha, The Place Of The Skull, Jesus was offered wine mixed with myrrh, a potion mixed to deaden the worst of pain, it was an act of mercy. While Matthew alone says that He tasted it, all agree He refused to drink it. Then all of the writers simply say: “they crucified Him.” He was mocked, dressed in a purple robe, a crown of thorns placed on His head, all mocking Him as the King of Kings. He was blind folded and spat upon, slapped in the face and struck in the head while being challenged to identify those who were doing all of this to Him, after all He was a prophet and they felt that a true prophet should be able and willing to tell.
My Sin (And Yours)
It is easy to say that it was the religious leaders, the soldier, the government or even Judas who are really to blame for Jesus death on this Good Friday – perhaps even the crowd as they yelled to Pilate: “Crucify Him”. Lest we pass the blame too quickly we must take a look within, and notice that our attitude is not unlike any of those that we might blame for the crucifixion. We often resent Jesus intrusion into our lives, the fact that He calls us to obey Him, to follow Him. Our initial response is that “my life is not His business, He should leave me alone.” Yet Jesus responds that we are His business and thankfully He will never leave us alone. We often see Him as a rival, a threat, a disruption…we don’t want to crucify Him but our attitude is often the same as those involved in the actual crucifixion of Jesus: we just want Him to go away, leave us alone, just get rid of Him.
The question still needs answered: Why did Jesus die? It’s not that He was killed but that He died. None of those involved killed Jesus – He willingly gave himself up in obedience to God the Father.
The Real Reason Jesus Died
Jesus not only died due to our sin, but He gave Himself to die on a cross because of the purpose and plan of God the Father. Jesus’ death on the cross was one of pain, suffering, horror and shame…so why would God the Father choose that in advance as the purpose and plan His son would endure?
He died for me and for you.
He secured the forgiveness of our sins by willingly giving Himself on the cross. It is a very personal issue for each of us. That issue makes today (Good Friday) all the more sobering.
He died to make a way for us to have a right relationship with God.
“Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit.” (1 Peter 3:18 NLT)
The cross of Christ is all about our relationship with God the Father being reconciled through forgiveness of our sins. Giving us eternal life, peace, new life, favor, in Jesus’ words a “rich and satisfying life”. We only have the blessings that we were created for because of Jesus’ death on the cross.
He died for our sins.
Our sin is the obstacle that prevents us from living the life God created us to live as His masterpiece. Something had to be done about sin and its power over us; He took our sins by His death. Our sin (my sin) and Jesus’ death on the cross are closely related. Throughout all of Scripture my sin in linked to His death on the cross. What’s the connection?
Jesus died my (our) death.
The penalty for sin is death: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 6:23 NLT) Jesus took my place for my sin. The brutality He suffered was meant for me as a consequence for my sin – but He took my place.
So, why did Jesus die? For me, for you, for our good – that is to say He died to secure for each of us the forgiveness of our sin, (salvation) our eternal life – in order to secure it He had to deal with our sin and He did that by willingly giving Himself on the cross, dying in our place. From a human’s point of view it would be easy to blame the religious leaders, the government, the solders or even Judas, but from God’s perspective, from the divine perspective, Jesus died so that I (we) don’t have to.