I Believe in Jesus… Dead


Did Jesus die?

Of the reality of the death, there is abundant evidence. It is recorded that, after six hours of suffering on the cross, Jesus gave up the ghost. The soldiers did not break His legs as they did in the case of the malefactors, because they saw and pronounced Him dead already; but one of them inflicted a spear-wound with a force that would have caused death had any life remained. The result was an outflow of blood and water, of itself sufficient evidence that death had done its work upon the Sufferer. Before Pilate permitted the body of Jesus to be delivered to Joseph, he was careful to make sure, by questioning the centurion in charge, that the wonderful prisoner who had caused him so great anxiety was dead.[1]

Why did Jesus die?

But why did He die? That is the astonishing story of the entire Bible. When Adam and Eve sinned by eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden, death entered the picture (Gen 2:16-17; Rom. 3:23). But we know that they did not immediately fall dead. Here’s where we catch a glimpse of the astonishing mercy of God. 

Throughout the Old Testament, we see the Israelites participating in an elaborate sacrificial system. These were meant to remind them first that they were sinners, and second to give them a visual picture of the fact that sin is costly. They were to give the best of what they had, and nothing less.

In Genesis 22 we read the story of Abraham being instructed by God to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. Can you imagine his thoughts as he makes his way to the place of sacrifice? Do you ever wonder what you would do if faced with a similar request from God? But we learn that he did exactly as instructed, believing that “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering” (Gen 22:8). And, of course, that’s exactly what God did. 

Hundreds of years later, God provided the ultimate Lamb. As Paul Little explains, “God exercised all his attributes in harmony with each other. His holiness demands atonement or, as we call it, a penalty for sin. His amazing love provides the payment.”[2]

Does the Bible say Jesus had to die?

The writer of Hebrews reveals to us that the old sacrificial system had to be offered repeatedly. However, 

…when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,” then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. (Heb. 10:12-18)

James Denney explains:

God must not merely forgive men, but must forgive in a way that shows that he forever hates evil and can never treat it as other than completely hateful. Sin makes a real difference to God, and even in forgiving, he cannot ignore sin or regard it as other or less than it is. If He did so, He would not be more gracious than He is in the Atonement—He would cease to be God.[3]

Thanks be to God. As Christians, it’s essential we believe that Jesus died. Without it, our faith is foolish. Why did Jesus die? Our sins had to be paid for with His life.

If you’re curious how old Jesus was when he died, check out this article.

[1] James Dodds, Exposition of the Apostles’ Creed, ebook, p. 41.

[2] Paul E. Little, Know What You Believe (InterVarsity Press, Kindle Edition), p. 81.

[3] James Denney, The Death of Christ (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1964), p. 3.

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