I recently read about a man who said he didn’t believe in Christianity because he couldn’t understand why a nice guy like Jesus had to die and there was no way that one man, even Jesus, could do such a thing as take away the sins of other people, much less the entire world.  Having heard this, I want to talk with you about why Jesus suffered and died.  

There are three words I believe we must consider when we attempt to understand the cross and the meaning of Jesus being crucified.  

The first part of answering such a question forces us to look closely at the Trinity.  The Trinity, a word not actually found in scripture, is a term and concept used by the historical church to describe God as one God, three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  It is vital, and I mean “super” important, to know that God, the Creator of all, was from the beginning of time never alone. God is a being that is made up of three persons who are inseparable.  It is also key to know that Jesus was always with God, even when the world was created as scripture clearly teaches in John 1.  In other words, Jesus is not made in the image of human beings, we are made in His!

The second aspect of understanding Jesus’ suffering is found in the term ascension.  As theologian Baxter Kruger states, “There is no more stunning news in the universe than the news that a human being now exists inside the Trinitarian life of God.”  Jesus, fully God and fully human (after Jesus’ life on earth), went to heaven and exists with God.  Jesus’ humanity is with God each and every day. 
Was this some kind of accident on God’s part?  Was this some kind of planning on the fly by God?  No!  Jesus was the secret plan of the Trinity from all of eternity.  The life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ was planned from the beginning of time.  God is, in a way, human like us.

The third and final aspect is to understand sin.  Sin is missing the mark when it comes to following God.  It is not so much about rules, but about the entire quagmire of our brokenness, alienation, and estrangement that exists between God, us, and each other.  Sin is something that humanity brought on itself, not imposed by God. On the cross our brokenness and alienation is overcome.   Thus, to understand Jesus’ suffering, we must know that God is, at the core of God’s being, about relationships.  God’s love for us is so strong that God knew sin would be a barrier that would have to be overcome.  Out of amazing love, Jesus came to us to offer Himself as the solution to the problem of sin.  

Thus, it is not Jesus who dies to appease the Father; it is the death of Jesus that proves just how much the triune God loves us.  Contrary to the whispers of Satan, God does love us and we are worthy of that love, no matter who we are or what we’ve done.  We even find ourselves taking sides with Satan, just like the crowds who shouted “crucify.”  Yes, we too get fooled by Satan to believe lies.  But Jesus says to us again and again, “forgive them…” and “it is finished.”  Is that shocking?  It should be.  It is not about our work, but our love for a God who first (and always) loved us.  The empty tomb continues to prove that Satan cannot win this war for human lives.  God wants us to be with Him and has chosen to bring us home… not ask us to find our own way.  Now that you know how much God loves you, isn’t it easier to love God for such an awesome gift?  If so, that’s called salvation and it’s free.  Until next time, Blessings!