Faithful Questions: Why Did Jesus Have to Die?

This is the latest installment in EPIC’s summer blog series on the book Faithful Questions: Exploring the Way with Jesus by Scott Gunn and Melody Wilson Shobe. Blogging on chapter 3 is EPIC member Rebekah Gregg.

Becky Gregg
Rebekah Gregg

Theological scholars, clergy people, historians and the like have devoted their entire lives to find an answer to this question: Why did God’s only son have to die, and what does that mean for us, his followers? The truth is, there is no one true answer to this question.

As Christians, Jesus’ life and death are pivotal parts of our faith.  The Bible expounds on both, but his death appears in all the gospels and has a constant visual presence in our faith. The cross, the instrument of Christ’s death, appears in our churches, Bibles, the Book of Common Prayer, and even around our necks. The Cross is the mark of the Christian. If this is the case, why can’t we answer this question with ease? Maybe we aren’t asking the question the right way.

Growing up going to church, listening to the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection over and over through the years, got me thinking. If Jesus selflessly died for our sins and so that we could be clean and able to get into heaven, I thought that meant I would have to do the same. “We are supposed to be like Jesus, aren’t we?” I thought to myself as a nine-year-old. “Does this mean I’m going to have to wiggle my way into somehow being sentenced to death so that I can prove myself worthy for God? Is this the only way I can be a real Christian?”

My child self was, like many people, plagued by the thought that Jesus had to die to be able to be resurrected into Heaven. What needs to be realized is that Jesus chose to die of his own volition. He died without any expectations of his followers. He chose to end his life so that we could live our worldly lives without fear of our sins following us to the grave, so that we could experience the Lord’s forgiveness. Jesus chose to die purely because of his love for us! To me, that is just wild.

I’m sure many have heard parents say they would die for their child. I feel like this is the same situation. Jesus was not forced to die on the cross, but made the choice to die so that his children could live, so that his children could live holy lives while on Earth. Just him choosing to die so we can have salvation—that baffles me, honestly.

So, let me try to put this in perspective for all the non-parents out there.  Is there anyone you love so much you’d be willing, of your own choosing, to die for them so that they would live better lives? A pet? A spouse/partner/sibling/parent? Your favorite pair of shoes? It’s heavy, isn’t it?

I’ll leave you with a reflective question that Gunn and Shobe asks at the end of the chapter: knowing that Jesus chose to die, for love of you, how are you feeling called to live, for love of him?

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