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Why Did Jesus Have to Die?

Matt Carter    /    Feb 24, 2013


Matt Carter speaks on Mark 9:1-13

Series: The Gospel of Mark




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Sermon Transcript

Most people understand that when Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, we were separated from God and lost relationship with Him. But why did Jesus have to die, in order to reconcile ourselves back to God?


Why couldn’t God just forgive us? Why couldn’t God just look at the sin of Adam and Eve and decide it wasn’t a big deal and just move past it?


Why did Jesus have to leave heaven, come to earth, live a perfect life, be tortured, crucified, and die on a Roman cross, then resurrect three days later?


Don’t Tell Anybody


Immediately after the transfiguration, while Jesus and the disciples walk down the mountain, Jesus says something really interesting to them.


And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only. And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. Mark 9:7-9 (ESV)


Jesus was just transfigured before them, showing them the fullness of His glory, but then tells them not to tell anybody what they saw. These guys just experienced and saw the face of God for the very first time since Adam and Eve!


Why would He do that? You would think if the whole purpose is for people to come to know Jesus, He would want them to run down the mountain and tell everybody what they saw.


He also says they can’t tell anybody until something happens.


And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. Mark 9:9 (ESV)


Jesus tells them not to talk about what they saw until after He dies. He has to die and rise from the grave first, only then can they tell everybody that He is the Messiah.


To understand why He would do this, you have to understand what the Israelites thought the Messiah was going to do.


Israel’s Messiah


There are prophecies in the Old Testament about the coming Messiah. The Israelites believed He would show up and through a big military coup or big political movement, He would rid Israel of all its enemies, destroying tyranny, getting rid of the Romans and establishing a kingdom where the Israelites would reign forever.


To this day, that’s what Jews He will do. The Jewish people do not think Jesus is the Messiah, because He didn’t do all of this.


A couple years ago during our Israel Series, I was able to have dinner with a Jewish professor. He was a professor of the Torah studies, the Old Testament, in one of the premier universities in Israel. He told me I could ask him anything.


I asked, “When I read the Torah and the prophecies about the coming Messiah, it’s obvious to me that its talking about Jesus. Why do you not believe that Jesus fulfilled these prophecies?”


At that moment, he raised his voice and said, “I don’t believe that He was the Messiah because He failed! He did not bring the kingdom to Israel.” Jesus did not defeat all of Israel’s enemies, or establish a kingdom with Israel on the throne. In his mind, Jesus was a failed Messiah.


As Christians, and because we have the New Testament, we know that Jesus did defeat tyranny and evil. He did establish a new kingdom, where God’s people will sit on the throne and reign with Him forever. But He didn’t do it through a military coup or political take over, but through His suffering and His death.


Jesus won by losing.


The idea the Messiah would come and establish a new kingdom, defeating tyranny and evil through his suffering and death is absolutely ridiculous to the Jewish people. Even though there are all kinds of prophecies about a suffering servant, it just doesn’t make sense to them.


Jesus knew that about the Israelites. He knew their vision about what the Messiah was going to do. He knew if Peter, James and John started screaming from the rooftops that He was actually the Messiah, the Jewish people would have seized Him immediately and would have tried to make Him into the picture of the Messiah they had in their minds.


Why Jesus Came


Jesus clearly lays out why He came and what He would accomplish as the Messiah.


27 And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” 29 And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” Mark 8:27-29 (ESV)


The word Christ is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word Messiah. Peter just plainly said Jesus was the Messiah.


30 And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him. 31 And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. Mark 8:30-31 (ESV, emphasis added)


The word must modifies and controls everything else in the sentence. It implies that all the things Jesus lists out are a necessity. In other words, Jesus must suffer, He must be rejected, He must be killed, and He must rise again.


Jesus did not say the Son of Man would suffer. He said the Son of Man must suffer. There is a big difference.


He has to die. It is a necessity. Why does He keep doing this?


Jesus’ ultimate plan was not to set His people free from the tyranny of Roman rule.


His ultimate plan was to set His people free from the tyranny of sin and death.


Which brings us back to the first question: Why does Jesus have to die?


The Cost of Sin


When someone wrongs you, in that moment, a cost or debt is established. For forgiveness to take place, somebody, one of the two parties, has to pay the cost.


Let’s say you’re having a party one night at your apartment and a friend drinks too much. He starts stumbling around and falls down and breaks your favorite lamp. He has wronged you. In that moment, a cost was established in the relationship. The lamp cost $100. So now there’s a debt. Once the debt is incurred, one of two things can happen in that moment.


1. You can make him pay the cost of the lamp.

2. You can forgive him, so he doesn’t have to pay the cost.


But if you forgive him, what happened to the $100? Essentially, you just paid it. You absorbed the cost of the lamp yourself so that he didn’t have to pay it.


Who does the Bible say that you and I have wronged? Who have we sinned against?




All of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. That’s how this whole thing got started. The moment you first sinned against the Lord a debt was established, a cost was incurred.


What does the Bible say was the cost of sin?


23 For the wages of sin is death... Romans 6:23a (ESV)


The moment you sinned, you wronged God and the cost of death was established. That is the payment that must be paid in order for forgiveness and reconciliation to happen between you and God.


Which brings us to another question? Why is it so severe? Why death?


The Bigger the Wrong, The Bigger the Consequence


The payment for sin is always equivalent to the authority and power of the person that has been wronged.


Let’s illustrate this:


All of us have lied at some point in time. God said in His Ten Commandments, ‘thou shall not bear false witness’. Don’t lie. So let’s pretend that you lied to your friend. What’s the payment, the cost incurred when you lied to them? Maybe they got mad at you or you’re no longer friends with them. That’s not a big penalty, because your friend has very little power or authority in your life.


So let’s take the same sin, but up the authority a little. You lie to your boss at work. What are those consequences? You lose your job. It’s the same exact sin, but the consequences are harsher.


So let’s take the same sin, but up the authority a little more. You lie to the government, committing treason or perjury. What are those consequences? You go to jail. It’s the same exact sin, but the consequences are harsher.


The bigger the authority, the bigger the consequence.


Let’s up the authority one more time. Same sin: lying. God said, “Do not lie”. But all of us have lied; we have all sinned and wronged God. The authority and power of God is not just bigger, it’s infinite. When you lied, you lied to an infinite authority and power. So the consequences of your sin must be equally infinite. Death. Not just death, but eternal death.


The payment now, because you wronged God, must be paid. In order for forgiveness to happen between you and God, one of the two parties, must die.


God had a choice. He could have made us pay the payment of our sin and killed us. Or He could have come to this earth, become flesh, live a perfect life and take our place, dying, paying the penalty of death for us.


That is what He chose to do.


On the night before Jesus actually died, He was hanging out with His disciples. He took some bread and broke it in half. He told them they had been doing the Passover supper their whole life, but they needed to know what it was representing. He told them the bread was His body, broken for them. He came so that His body could be broken for them. Then He took a cup, calling it the cup of the new covenant, a picture of His blood that would be poured out the next day for the forgiveness of their sins.


He then went to the Garden of Gethsemane and got on His hands and knees. The fullness of what He was about to do was hitting Him. In just a few hours He was going to become sin, on our behalf, so that we could become the righteousness of God. He would become every sin ever committed and would come face-to-face with God, who would pour our His wrath on Him.


He began to ask God if there was any other way. Somebody has to pay the cost. Either Him or us, but was there any other way? God looked at His son and said there wasn’t, He had to do it. So Jesus responded, “Lord its not my will, but Your will be done.” He walked to the cross and never wavered again.


For six hours He hung on that cross, being brutally tortured and then cried out in a loud voice, “It is accomplished.”  Three days later he rose again, conquering death forever.


Why did Jesus have to die?


16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (ESV)


That is the gospel.


Every other religion in the world is defined by men and women who are trying their hardest to pay the penalty of their sin, to earn their way back to God, but can’t.


The gospel is the exact opposite of that. God didn’t stand there with His arms folded telling us to work our way back to Him. He came to us and paid the penalty for us. He took our place.


If you are not a believer, I want you to know what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. It is not a person that tries their hardest to follow all the rules and regulations, but hides from God when they don’t. Christianity is a story, a message. It’s understanding that Jesus came, He paid the penalty, in full, for all our sins and now we trust in Him.


The moment that you trust Him in this, He indwells you with His Spirit and gives you abundant life until the moment you breathe your last and wake up in the arms of Jesus.