By: Austin Creecy
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?"
– John 11:25,26
Why did Jesus have to die on the cross, and how does it save us?
To answer this question, let’s read Exodus 12:1-13:
Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, 2 "This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you. 3 Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: 'On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household. 4 And if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take it according to the number of the persons; according to each man's need you shall make your count for the lamb. 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats. 6 Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight. 7 And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it. 8 Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9 Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire—its head with its legs and its entrails. 10 You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire. 11 And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord's Passover. 12 'For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord.
From the verses above, we learn where God let the Israelites (His chosen people) escape the Egyptians’ punishment. The Israelites were to slaughter the unblemished lamb and mark the doorways to their homes with the lamb’s blood. As the Holy Spirit traveled through Egypt, killing the Egyptians’ firstborn sons, the Spirit would notice the markings and leave the Israelites alone, passing over them.
As the story continues, the Egyptian king allows the Israelites to leave Egypt. Next, the Israelites wander in the wilderness for 40 years due to their repetitive lack of belief, worshipping of idols, doubt, and other sins. It is during this time that God gives the Israelites the law through Moses. For the record, the trip to the Promise Land was not a 40-day journey.
If you turn to Leviticus 4 in the Old Testament, it takes us to Mount Sinai. Here God tells Moses what to share with the Israelites about breaking God’s law (sinning). He then shares with Moses what to do if anyone sins. They must offer a sin offering.
A sin-offering entailed taking a young, unblemished animal such as a bull, goat, or lamb and killing. After sacrificing the young animal, the sinner sprinkled its blood on the altar and burned the animal’s fat and/or organs.
While the idea of sacrificing an unblemished young animal may seem cruel or morbid in today’s culture, it was what the Lord God requested of them! The act of offering an animal represented their death for the sin they committed and foreshadowed what was yet to come.
Remember, sin divided the Israelites from God and kept them from knowing Him fully. During this time, all sin was punishable by death. The way the Israelites were to pay their debts was by offering the animal in their place. Many people do not want to murder a beautiful young animal and desecrate its body. However, that was the punishment God chose instead of the punishment they deserved at the time, which was death.
Behold, all souls are Mine; The soul of the father As well as the soul of the son is Mine; The soul who sins shall die (Ezekiel 18:4).
The Father did not want His people separated from Him! He had shown the Israelites that from the beginning of time. The sin offering was another way The Father allowed them to live for Him and obey His rules.
God said if the Israelites broke the rules and sinned, the sentence was death! Much like if we choose to commit a crime, a judge can sentence us to prison.
God allowed them to pay a fine, and that fine was sacrificing a young animal, as mentioned above. Only after that was the sinner forgiven. It is similar to a judge saying, “you stole a computer, but if you return the computer, pay the person back, plus a fine for you not obeying the laws, I will let you go.”
You see, it was up to the Israelites to pay that fine and be set free. The offering was the way they confessed their sin and then repented for it. Before Christ’s death and resurrection, one could not directly talk to the Father. You learn this in John 16:16-33, as well as other places throughout God’s Word.
For about 1400 years, this was how it was! If an Israelite sinned, they would need to make an offering to allow the Father to forgive them. It was an ongoing thing! Every time an Israelite broke one of God’s laws (which there were many), the sinner had to make an offering. The offerings changed depending on the sin, but most of the time, the sinner ended up killing and sprinkling some animal’s blood on the altar. Perhaps it seems harsh or exhausting to you, but this was the law of God and how God forgave sinners.
Let’s fast forward to about 4-5 BC when a particular child was born. While this child appeared to be a “normal” boy, He was not. The child was born in a manger in a small town called Bethlehem, and His mother was a virgin named Mary. Perhaps you are familiar with this story! He was the Son of God, and His name was Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ grew up in the town of Nazareth. At around 30 years old, He started His ministry. Ironically, His ministry – the most extraordinary ministry of them all – only lasted for three years! He traveled with a group of disciples, teaching them how His Father desired them to live.
Jesus exemplified and taught the His disciples and the world how to live a perfect life because He was perfect.
Over Jesus’ ministry, the Jewish Sadducees and Pharisees had enough of Jesus’ “blasphemous ways.” The Jewish leaders did not like that Jesus was teaching people to trust God and do God’s way, especially when it contradicted the Jewish leaders’ practices and beliefs. Therefore, with evil in their hearts, the Jewish leaders came up with a plan to kill Jesus. The plan was to arrest and crucify Jesus by the Roman empire’s commander, Pontius Pilate. It is essential to highlight Pilate did not want to kill Jesus. However, he allowed the Jewish leadership and people to decide Jesus’ fate once Jesus was in custody. Most of us know what the people chose – to crucify Jesus. And that is what happened!
Remember, Jesus was not just another everyday guy. He was, is, and always will be the Son of God Almighty. God knew His Son would go through brutally inhumane torture, hung on a cross, and would die. It was all part of God’s more excellent plan. God is a redeemer and makes all things work for the greater good (Romans 8:28).
The Father knew humans could not stop from sinning, and for thousands of years, humans proved they could not stop. It was impossible to keep the law, as Paul talks about in Galatians, which is why Paul reminds us in Ephesians 2:8-9:
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
God allowed Jesus to die on the cross as the final sin offering, and Jesus knew this plan too. Even Jesus did not want to go through it. However, Jesus knew it was THY will, not His will (Luke 22: 42). Jesus’ crucifixion was the final Passover of the world.
Jesus was the perfect unblemished lamb, who God sent to the world. No one ever needs to sacrifice another young, unblemished animal again because Jesus has paid the final price! It was finished – Jesus’ death covered us and connected us to the Father.
After Jesus’ death and burial, He rose three days later from His tomb.
Jesus’s death and resurrection were what ended the old covenant and started the new covenant. The old covenant was the law of Moses as God revealed it to him on Mount Sinai. Right before Christ died, He stated, “It is finished (John 19:30)!”
Then Jesus called out in a loud voice, “Father, into Your hands I commit My Spirit.” And when He had said this, He breathed His last (Luke 23:46).
He had taken on ALL the sins of the world and sacrificed Himself as the perfect unblemished lamb of God. No longer do we need to make offerings or live according to the law. We only need to follow Christ and do as He did, living a life in a relationship with the Father. Where we can honor, glorify, and obey the Father.
The Father took the enemy’s plan and redeemed it, allowing all who believe in Jesus Christ to be saved from death and have eternal life. Romans 10:9 says, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Jesus Christ was the Passover lamb that God sent, and He was a final sin offering for the world. Praise Jesus! He died for you! He died for you to walk in His authority and FREELY receive the Father’s love, grace, mercy, and so much more. He shed his blood to allow us to receive the Father’s forgiveness for ALL our iniquities. It meant salvation from sin and eternal life for everyone who believes in Jesus Christ.
Prayer: Father God, thank You for giving us Your Son Jesus Christ. Thank You for opening my eyes to Him and for allowing me to know Him. Lord, thank You for giving Your life on the cross for me so that I do not even need to think about my sin. Lord, allow me to glorify You by living a life that You deem good. Thank You for being an amazing Father. Thank You for giving me the Holy Spirit. I am grateful that I can commune with You through the Spirit. I love You, God. I ask you to continue refining me and molding me into what You want me to be, do, and act. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen!