Today is a day of mixed feelings for us, isn’t it? On the one hand, we’re reminded of the awful consequences of sin. Sin so heinous in God’s eyes that Christ had to die to satisfy it; had to suffer with humiliations, beatings, blood, and death to make it right. On the other hand, we know from Scripture that He willingly suffered these things for us; willingly laid down His life that we might live. In that we rejoice! We call it good Friday for just that reason. If Christ hadn’t died to pay the penalty for us, we would still be dead in our sins, damned and without hope.
Have you ever wondered why Christ had to die though? Wasn’t there some other way that God could have done it? Another way that didn’t involve the sufferings, beatings, humiliations, and death of Jesus? Another way except the awful cross? Why was physical death, the physical death of Jesus, necessary at all?
The question cannot be answered unless we start at the beginning. It is there that we find the answer to our question. The first couple, our ancestors Adam and Eve, from whom all humans derive their origin, were created immortal, sinless, perfect and whole in their being, in a world without death, disease, destruction and decay; a perfect world created according to God’s decree. A world that fulfilled exactly God’s purposes and plan. The first man and woman were to live in this paradise, propagate and have children and fill the earth, be stewards of this earth that God had created, subdue it and rule it (Gen. 1:28).
Adam and Eve were given one prohibition though: not to eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Gen. 2:17). The consequence was death if they did (Gen. 2:17b). This death, and this is important to realize, was both physical death and spiritual death. Death as an entity, in it’s physical and spiritual manifestations, did not exist within God’s perfect, whole, and complete creation until Adam sinned.
And with Adam’s sin (Gen. 3), death gained entrance. Death reigns supreme today; it entered through the sin of one man and has spread to all men, because all have sinned (Rom. 5:12). Death is a reality, for all men die. No one escapes it.
So, what was God to do? On one hand, He carried out His warning. Adam would now physically die (Gen. 3:19). He would return to the dust from which He was taken. God instituted a curse upon the whole of the created order. Everything was affected. We today, are still living under that curse. On the other hand, God provided a promise (Gen. 3:15), that the Seed of the woman (Eve), would crush the serpent’s head, but that this Seed would be bruised in the heel. We don’t know what that means at this point, but we later find in the Psalms and Prophets that a Messiah would come who would be pierced for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, chastened for our well-being (Is. 53:5).
We see the institution of animal sacrifice, of the physical death of an animal, right there in Gen. 3 as atonement for sin. Death was required to atone for sin, and it was God-instituted, God-inaugurated, and the God-ordained means to cleanse the vileness of sin and pave the way to forgiveness. We see this animal sacrificial system carried out throughout the Old Testament, and we find Paul in Hebrews 9:22, echoing Lev. 17:11, ‘that without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.’
We see John the Baptist calling Jesus ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’ (John 1:29). Why? John recognized Jesus as the sacrificial Passover Lamb, the Lamb whose death was required to take away sin.
So, why was Jesus’ death required? In short, because we’re sinners, and it goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. Death was the means of atonement for sin. It took Christ’s death to defeat death. It was God’s eternal plan and decree that Christ would die physically, meet the requirement of sacrifice for atonement as the Sacrificial Lamb of God, resurrect Himself on the third day, and be the first-fruits of His beloved elect who would be resurrected to live with Him forever in the eschaton.
Like Christ we weep at the awfulness of death, angry at sin and the death it introduced (John 11:35), and yet we can rejoice that Christ’s defeat of this enemy is the good news of Good Friday.
With love, I remain,
Dear ol’ Dad
Vaya con Dios mis hijas