Good Friday–Why Did Jesus Die?
What a great evening we have had already. We have lifted our voices in song to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ. We have heard testimonies from those in our midst, and we have partaken of the Lord’s Supper together. We turn our attention now to the Word of God as we seek to very briefly answer the question, “Why did Jesus die?”
This is a good question, one that is worthy of our full attention. It is a simple question, for even a small child can grasp its answer. Yet this is a profound question, for its depths cannot be fully plumbed on this side of eternity. It is an important question, for it defines our destiny. And it is a heartbreaking question, for like a giant arrow its answer is pointed directly at our hearts.
Why did Jesus die? He died for you and He died for me. He died because He loves you. He died to save you from your sin and to restore your relationship with God.
Now to more fully answer this question, let’s take a journey all the way back to the beginning of Genesis, at the start. The very first recorded words of the Bible are God speaking. It is a command—“Let there be light.” And light obediently came into existence. Throughout the next six days, God issues one divine edict after another and His creation perfectly obeys. Light and darkness separate, dry land is formed, vegetation sprouted, the celestial bodies were hung in the sky. Fish, birds, and animals all came into existence. And every part of God’s creation, down to the last molecule, followed His word perfectly.
In Job 38:11, God speaks directly to the oceans and declares, “This far you shall come, but no farther and here your proud waves shall stop and they heed His word.” In the very next verse, we find that God is the Captain of the morning, and on each new day the dawn patiently waits for His command. This is echoed by the psalmist who in Psalm 19 says that the sun itself rejoices every morning as it fulfills the decree of God, completing its circuit across the sky.
Isaiah adds his voice, telling us that in addition to the sun, all of the stars of heaven follow the pathway He has set for them with unrelenting obedience, never deviating from His command (Isaiah 48:13). The weather obeys God. The seasons obey God. The animal kingdom obeys God. All of creation bows before its Creator in complete and perfect submission. From the forces of nature to the laws of physics, from the largest blue whale to the smallest, single-celled amoeba, from the heights of heaven to the deepest ocean trench, all of creation stands in perpetual obedience to God offering Him praise and glory.
All of the created order obeys–all except one. Enter mankind. Blessed above all creation and made in the image of God, man had a unique relationship with his Creator. But instead of living in obedience and submitting to the perfect will of God, man said, “No. NO, I will not obey. No, I will not submit. No, I will not recognize your authority over my life.”
This is how Adam responded to the perfect goodness of God. He challenged the direct command of God with willful disobedience. This was no accident. It was not an unfortunate mistake. It was an act of defiant rebellion. It was treason against the sovereign God.
But the problem is even worse, because it doesn’t end with Adam. First Corinthians 15:22 tells us that in Adam, all die. That is, the sin of Adam is passed down from generation to generation because we are all sons and daughters of Adam. You are a sinner and I am a sinner. Your kids are sinners and their kids will be sinners.
Like Adam you have rebelled, choosing your own way above God’s. You have looked in the face of the Almighty and said, “No, I will not obey. Like Adam, I choose my sin over You.” And yet here in 2016, in Murrieta, California, we live as if we have ultimate control of our destiny. We live in security and peace.
We put money in the bank and count on insurance policies and a retirement plan to protect us from the future. We eat healthy, exercise, and depend on modern medicine to lengthen our days. We live in the land of the free and the home of the brave where all is as it should be. The kids are excelling in school, the job is going well, and the March madness bracket is hanging in there. We have insulated ourselves from our greatest problem–the problem of sin.
But listen to what God says in Obadiah 3 and 4, “The arrogance of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rock, in the loftiness of your dwelling place, who say in your heart, ‘who will bring me down to earth?’ 4 Though you build high like the eagle, though you set your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down,” declares the Lord” (Obadiah 3,4). You cannot run from Him, you cannot hide from Him, and you cannot ignore Him. Your sin rises to Heaven and is seen by the all-knowing and all-seeing eye of God. And He will bring every person to account for their sin.
As the holy, holy, holy God, His wrath burns against all who have violated His law and He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished. And the Bible tells us that the result of our sin is death. In fact, the author of Hebrews tells us that it is appointed for man to die once and after this comes judgment. This is what we have earned, it is what we deserve–the judgment of God, physical death followed by spiritual death.
So what do we do? Most people try to live better, do more good. Practice random acts of kindness. Give to the needy. Become a family man. Go to church. Even attend a community group. But this is not enough. For how can a sinful man enter the presence of holiness without being consumed?
How can you stand before God with your filthy hands and your good deeds and think that is enough to please Him? Every one of your good deeds is like a pebble that is thrown into the Grand Canyon. It doesn’t matter how many good deeds you do, you will never build a bridge to the other side. It isn’t enough, not in one lifetime, not in a thousand lifetimes.
This is the same question that has been asked throughout the ages. It is the question that Job asked in Job 9. He said, “How can a man be in the right before God?” This is our same dilemma. We have a mountain of sin piled above us. We have the wrath of God burning against us. And there is no way that we can ever do enough good works to satisfy the holiness of God. We are in trouble.
In desperation Job says in Job 9:32, “For God is not a man as I am that I may answer Him, that we may go to court together. I can’t just walk into heaven, into the divine courtroom and have this conversation. He is holy God and I am sinful man. And between us there is a gap far larger than the Grand Canyon.” And so he says, “There is no umpire between us, who may lay his hand upon us both” (Job 9:33).
He is asking for an arbitrator, someone to mediate, a middle man or a go-between. He was looking for someone who could enter into the presence of God and speak on his behalf. But that mediator that could stand in the presence of God would have to be God. And in order to represent him, a man, that mediator would have to be human. And Job said, “How can this be? There is no one who can lay his hand on us both.” Do you see the problem? Do you see the issue with sin?
The answer to Job’s dilemma came almost 2,000 years after he died. God sent His own Son, Jesus Christ, to be the mediator. Jesus, who was infinite and holy God–the eternal One, the Creator of the universe, the great I AM. Jesus, who was born of a virgin in a small obscure village as a man. Jesus, who perfectly kept the law of God, living in total obedience. Jesus, who went to the cross, enduring the shame and bearing the wrath of God as it was poured out upon Him for the sins of His people.
Jesus is the Great High Priest, who stands between God and man, taking those who were far off and bringing them near. He offers forgiveness of sin and peace with God by His own life and death. Jesus is our salvation. “For this purpose He came, to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). And He offers to be the umpire, the mediator, the go-between to anyone who by faith will come to Him, turn from their sin, and submit to Him as Lord.
So if we ask the question, “Why did Jesus die?”–the answer, like a giant arrow, points directly at your heart. And Romans 5:8 says it best. “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Why did Jesus die? He died for you. He died because He loves you. He died to take away your sin. He died so that we would have life. He bore our sin so that we could be forgiven. He was forsaken so that we would be accepted. And He endured the wrath of God so that we could stand in His presence blameless with great joy.
This is not just another Bible story. This is the timeless truth of our salvation. This is the good news that brings the dead to life. This is freedom. This is hope. Have you been forgiven? Have you had your sin removed? Are you right with God tonight? Are you confident that when you stand before Him, that Jesus will stand as your Mediator?
Why did Jesus die? He died for you and He still stands today, ready to offer you forgiveness and to accept you as His son or daughter, not based on your works but on His finished work. This is the message that we believe, and this is the message that we are mandated to share with a lost and dying world. Tonight we focus on the cross, our sin, and Christ’s death.
But my friends, this is not where the story ends. This is only the first half of the story. There is light that pierces the darkness. For Jesus is no longer on the cross, He is no longer paying for our sins, His suffering has ended. For three days after His crucifixion, He walked out of the tomb alive, victorious, as the conquering King. And the gospel of John concludes by telling us that the world and all its books could not contain all that Jesus has done. But that is a different message. Come back Sunday to celebrate the risen Savior with us. Let’s pray.