Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.
He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?”
In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
Why did Jesus have to die? Wasn’t there some other way for him to rescue God’s children? Couldn’t God come up with another way to save sinners? Couldn’t he just somehow wave away our sin? Did he have to make his son suffer so much? Perhaps you have asked these questions, or maybe your children have asked you these questions. How then do we answer such questions?
The cross was necessary to fulfill God’s eternal plan. In Peter’s Pentecost sermon he stated that it was not just the wickedness of men that delivered Jesus to the cross: it was “God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge”. God used those wicked men to carry out his plan of redemption. Jesus chided the two travelers on the road to Emmaus for not understanding how the prophets had foretold that the Messiah would have to suffer death on behalf of his people.
But why? Why was that God’s plan? Very simply, because God, out of his infinite mercy, out of his “mere good pleasure”, decided to save sinners. He was under no obligation to do that, but he did. “In a word, while it was not inherently necessary for God to save, yet, since salvation had been purposed, it was necessary to secure this salvation through a satisfaction that could be rendered only through substitutionary sacrifice and blood-bought redemption.” (John Murray)
Sin is an offense against a holy God. The cross was necessary to pay for sin. As Hebrews reminds us, there is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood. And that blood has to be of infinite worth, the blood of the God-man Jesus (I Peter 1:18-19). “There is no death of sin without the death of Christ.” (John Owen) Brothers and sisters, the cross was necessary to save you. Do you believe that Jesus died for your sins? I pray that you do, and that you will praise him for all eternity for his sacrificial love for you.
There was no other good enough
to pay the price of sin;
he only could unlock the gate
of heav’n, and let us in. (Cecil Frances Alexander).