The crucifixion of Jesus is not only the climax of the gospel story, but it is also the climax the whole biblical narrative. It is almost impossible to overemphasize the centrality of the cross in Christian faith and practice. The cross, an instrument of torture and death, has become for us a symbol of life and freedom.~
Why Did Jesus Die?
This is one of the central questions of Christian theology. Throughout the history of the church, various theologians have offered different theories to explain in theological terms the necessity of Christ's death. The theological term that describes how sin can be forgiven by God is the term atonement. We have seen this term in the Old Testament; once a year the high priest entered the Holy of Holies to offer the sacrifice of atonement for the forgiveness of sins.
Therefore, the question "Why did Jesus die?" is connected to the question "How did Jesus make atonement for the sins of humanity?" As I mentioned above, Christian theologians have offered different models or theories to explain the atonement of Jesus. Below I have provided a link to a website that explains these various models or theories of atonement in more detail. For the sake of time and space, I will provide here a summary response to the question "Why did Jesus die?"
The problem began back in Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve disobeyed the commandment of God and ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The result of that sinful act of disobedience was that sin entered the world and the ultimate effect of sin is death, both spiritual and physical. In the Old Testament, the problem of sin was addressed through the Law and sacrificial system, but the sacrifices of the Old Testament were imperfect. The solution to the problem of sin was a perfect sacrifice, which would pay the debt of sin. This perfect sacrifice would bring about the forgiveness of sins and overcome the power of death. Who could offer such a sacrifice? As Saint Anselm of Canterbury pointed out, only a human being could rightfully offer this sacrifice and pay the debt that was owed due to our sin. Yet a human sacrifice would be imperfect precisely because of our sin. Only God could offer a perfect sacrifice, because only God is perfect.
The incarnation of Jesus is God's response to this dilemma. Jesus is what Anselm calls the "God-Man," because he is simultaneously fully divine and fully human. Therefore, Jesus could rightfully offer the sacrifice and pay the debt of humanity, because he was fully human. AND his sacrifice would be perfect, because he was fully divine. So, Jesus died as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world. He died for us. He took the punishment that we deserved. He died that we might have life. Through his sacrifice, we have received the forgiveness of our sins. However, as we will see tomorrow, his death is not the end of the story. The cross cannot be fully understood apart from the empty tomb!
For more information on the various theories of atonement, CLICK HERE!