The Profound Mystery
Note: The following Post is taken from an upcoming book by Joseph Lenard entitled Mysteries of Jesus’ Life Revealed—His Birth, Death, Resurrection, and Ascensions. For an overview and complete chapter listing of this fascinating study, click here.
This is the final Posting of this book, Mysteries of Jesus’ Life Revealed. After all we have shared together regarding the life and death of Jesus, it seems proper to ask – and attempt to answer – one final question.
The question is this: Why did Jesus come to die?
Popular theologian and author, John Piper, has answered this question in his book, Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die (2006). He has stated the following:
The most important questions anyone can ask are: Why was Jesus Christ crucified? Why did he suffer so much? What has this to do with me? Finally, who sent him to his death? The answer to the last question is that God did. Jesus was God’s Son. The suffering was unsurpassed, but the whole message of the Bible leads to this answer.
The central issue of Jesus’ death is not the cause, but the meaning. What did God achieve for sinners like us in sending his Son to die?
Up to this point, we have examined the mysteries of when and where Jesus was born, died, resurrected, and ascended to the Father. We have even searched the mystery of how Jesus died. These are mysteries not commonly understood or answered correctly by church history or tradition. We have presented cases with credible evidence to help solve these mysteries of Jesus’ life.
It is important for us to keep in mind that just knowing when and where Jesus was born, died, resurrected, and ascended – as well as how He died – will not matter one bit in eternity, when we are standing before God. Knowing about Jesus is important for building our faith in Him and in Scripture, but it is not enough. However, knowing Him is everything!
By knowing Him I mean coming to faith in Him, trusting in Him for forgiveness of sins, and worshiping Him as your Savior and Lord. He came and died so that you may have eternal life with Him, so that you may be as one with Him.
There is a lot going on “behind the scenes” related to this. Scripture provides a long list of reasons for Jesus coming to earth and dying, and they are all vitally important. In his book, John Piper lists 50 reasons. However, I am presenting only seven reasons, from the 2002 online article, Seven Reasons Why Jesus Was Born, by Donald Ward:
Because of mankind’s sin
From the book of Genesis, we know the story of the creation of the first man and woman by God. He placed them in an idyllic setting in the Garden of Eden, and He supplied their every need. They had plentiful food, animals were tame, and God Himself accompanied them and was their loving teacher. Then they sinned by disobeying God and following Satan, and everything changed in an instant – there was a spiritual and physical separation from God.
Jesus had to be born and die as a sacrifice to save mankind from its sins, which began with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Only He could be the perfect sacrifice.
Because God wanted to reveal His own character to humanity
God wanted to reveal His righteous character to Adam and Eve and to all mankind so they could become like Him in mind and spirit. He created them in His own image (Genesis 1:26–27; 2:7) and gave them free will to choose good and evil. Unfortunately, they chose to follow Satan. Why did God’s desire to reveal His character to mankind mean Jesus had to be born? Because Adam and Eve failed to carry out God’s mandate to glorify Him in their lives, it was fulfilled in Jesus by ultimately coming and achieving the divine revelation of God’s character and purpose for man.
To remove the sins of humankind through a perfect sacrifice
Noah and the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) offered sacrifices to God. Hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth, God revealed through Moses a religious system that included animal sacrifices and offerings. The problem with the model of the animal sacrifices was that these sacrifices were imperfect and, although they served to temporarily cover the peoples’ sins, they could not take away the penalty of sin (Hebrews 10:4). That required a perfect sacrifice – a sinless, human sacrifice which was embodied in Jesus coming to die to pay the penalty for our sins.
For mankind to have a Mediator
Jesus is the Mediator of the New Covenant. Under the New Covenant, God replaced the sacrifices of the Levitical priesthood with the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Himself. In the New Covenant, God declared, “I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Hebrews 8:10, quoting Jeremiah 31:31). Why does the need for a Mediator mean Jesus had to be born and die? It is because the priesthood of the Levites, as revealed in the Old Testament, was imperfect. It was only a forerunner. Jesus had to be born because the salvation of mankind required something better.
To provide the promised Seed of Abraham
God promised Abraham that through his (Abraham’s) “seed,” or descendants, all nations of the world would be blessed (Genesis 22:18; Galatians 3:14–16). If you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and an heir according to the promise (Galatians 3:28–29). Jesus had to be born to provide the promised spiritual fulfillment of the seed of Israel. Jesus was a literal, physical descendant of Abraham. He was Abraham’s seed, through whom all nations of the world would be blessed.
For God to redeem mankind
Jesus had to be born because He is our Redeemer. The salvation of mankind was dependent upon Jesus coming to earth, living a perfect life, and dying as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. Why does God require a Redeemer? The Bible states that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23), and “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Therefore, all have earned the death penalty by God for sin. However, thankfully, God has made provision for sinners to be redeemed, or bought back, from the death penalty by a Redeemer. The first man, Adam, brought sin into the world (Romans 5:12), and the second Adam – Jesus – brought redemption, reconciliation, and the hope of eternal life with God (Romans 5:6–10). Since the “wages of sin is death,” redemption requires the sacrificial death of the Redeemer, Jesus.
For God to make His Spirit available to all humankind
Not only did Jesus have to be born, but He had to pay the penalty for our sins through His own death, then be resurrected to ascend to the Father as our High Priest. Only then could humanity receive the incredible gift of God’s Holy Spirit. “This Jesus God has raised up . . . Therefore, being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear” (Acts 2:32–33). A few days after Jesus’ resurrection, God poured out His Spirit on the assembled followers of Jesus at the Feast of Pentecost. Only through the receiving of God’s Spirit can we receive eternal life. God made it possible for all mankind – every person – to come voluntarily into an intimate relationship with Him and receive His Holy Spirit. This could not have been possible, in God’s great plan of redemption, without the birth and subsequent sacrificial death of His Son, Jesus Christ.
The Profound Mystery: A Mystical Union with Christ
In addition to the seven reasons presented above for Jesus coming to earth and dying, there is an additional, all-important reason which does not get much coverage in commentaries. This relates to another mystery – a profound mystery – that, once understood, gives fuller meaning and perspective to all of the other mysteries about Jesus’ life and death. It is also a mystery that is life changing!
The Apostle Paul explains it this way: “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the Church” (Ephesians 5:32, RSV). The “it” refers to what comes before verse 32 – a man and woman joined by the marriage union become one flesh. How this works is a profound mystery.
So is it with all who receive Christ by faith. Not only are sins forgiven, and everlasting inheritance assured, but a profound mystical union takes place, making believers one with Christ (one flesh); “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). This profound mystical union conveys not just a piece of Christ in you, but Jesus Christ in His entirety; and with Him, the whole of the Father and the Holy Spirit. You are placed in God and God is in residence in you – completely, absolutely and forever. That is the profound mystery!
The disciple John provides further insight:
And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who has not the Son of God has not life. (1 John 5:11–12, RSV)
Your Decision Has Eternal Consequences
If you do not embrace eternal life in the Son, all that awaits you is an eternal separation from God. It’s not what you know, but who you know that makes all the difference. To know Him is life. To deny Him is eternal death. But please understand that this death is not just death but rather eternal torment in a place called hell. That is what the Bible teaches (Matthew 25:31-46; Mark 9:43-48; Revelation 14:10; 20:10, 14-15). That is the punishment for sin against a holy and just God.
The choice is there for each of us. It is your choice! If you have not already done so, I would encourage you to make the choice today! Repent your sins, trust in Him, and accept the personal salvation only He can offer (John 3:16-18, 36).
It is my hope that you – as a believer – now have the blessing of a deeper understanding of the life of Jesus and that you better understand how all things work together to achieve the purposes of God. Everything about Jesus’ birth, death, resurrection and ascensions was precisely planned, arranged, and accomplished by God – according to the Scriptures – to bring redemption to mankind through Jesus, our Savior.
This is why Jesus came to die.
What does it mean to you?