Why Did Jesus Die?

Why Did Jesus Die?

The Bible’s answer

 Jesus died so that humans could have their sins forgiven and receive endless life. (Romans 6:​23; Ephesians 1:7) Jesus’ death also proved that a human can remain loyal to God even when faced with the severest of tests.​—Hebrews 4:​15.

 Consider how the death of one man could accomplish so much.

  1.   Jesus died for “the forgiveness of our sins.”​—Colossians 1:​14.

     The first human, Adam, was created perfect, without sin. However, he chose to disobey God. Adam’s disobedience, or sin, profoundly affected all his descendants. “Through the disobedience of the one man,” the Bible explains, “many were made sinners.”​—Romans 5:​19.

     Jesus was also perfect, but he never sinned. Therefore, he could be “an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 2:2; footnote) Just as Adam’s disobedience contaminated the human family with sin, so Jesus’ death removed the stain of sin from all who exercise faith in him.

     In a sense, Adam sold the human race into sin. Jesus, by willingly dying in our behalf, repurchased humankind as his own. As a result, “if anyone does commit a sin, we have a helper with the Father, Jesus Christ, a righteous one.”​—1 John 2:1.

  2.   Jesus died “so that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.”​—John 3:​16.

     Although Adam was created to live forever, his sin brought upon him the penalty of death. Through Adam, “sin entered into the world and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because they had all sinned.”​—Romans 5:​12.

     In contrast, Jesus’ death not only removed the blemish of sin but also canceled the death sentence for all who exercise faith in him. The Bible sums up matters this way: “Just as sin ruled as king with death, so also undeserved kindness might rule as king through righteousness leading to everlasting life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”​—Romans 5:​21.

     Of course, humans today still have a limited life span. However, God promises that he will grant righteous humans everlasting life and resurrect the dead so that they too can benefit from Jesus’ sacrificial death.​—Psalm 37:29; 1 Corinthians 15:22.

  3.   Jesus “became obedient to the point of death,” thus proving that a human could be faithful to God under any test or trial.​—Philippians 2:8.

     Despite having a perfect mind and body, Adam disobeyed God because he selfishly desired something that did not belong to him. (Genesis 2:​16, 17; 3:6) Later, God’s chief enemy, Satan, suggested that no human would unselfishly obey God, especially if his life were on the line. (Job 2:4) Yet, the perfect man Jesus obeyed God and remained loyal to him, even undergoing a disgraceful and painful death. (Hebrews 7:​26) This completely settled the matter: A human can remain faithful to God under whatever test or trial may be brought upon him.

Questions about Jesus’ death

  •   Why did Jesus have to suffer and die to redeem humans? Why didn’t God just cancel the death sentence?

     God’s law states that “the wages sin pays is death.” (Romans 6:​23) Rather than hide this law from Adam, God told him that the penalty for disobedience would be death. (Genesis 3:3) When Adam sinned, God, “who cannot lie,” kept his word. (Titus 1:2) Adam passed on to his descendants not only sin but also the wages of sin​—death.

     Although sinful humans deserve the penalty of death, God extended to them “the riches of his undeserved kindness.” (Ephesians 1:7) His provision to redeem mankind​—sending Jesus as a perfect sacrifice​—was both profoundly just and supremely merciful.

  •   When did Jesus die?

     Jesus died at “the ninth hour” from sunrise, or at about three o’clock in the afternoon of the Jewish Passover. (Mark 15:33-​37, footnote) That date corresponds to Friday, April 1, 33 C.E., according to modern calendars.

  •   Where did Jesus die?

     Jesus was executed at “the so-called Skull Place, which is called Golʹgo·tha in Hebrew.” (John 19:17, 18) This site was “outside the city gate” of Jerusalem in Jesus’ day. (Hebrews 13:12) It may have been on a hill, since the Bible says that some observed Jesus’ execution “from a distance.” (Mark 15:40) However, the present location of Golgotha cannot be determined with certainty.

  •   How did Jesus die?

     Although many believe that Jesus was crucified​—executed on a cross​—the Bible reports: “His own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree.” (1 Peter 2:​24, King James Version) Bible writers used two Greek words to refer to the instrument of Jesus’ execution​—stau·rosʹ and xyʹlon. Many scholars have concluded that these words refer to a beam or an upright stake made of one piece of wood.

  •   How should Jesus’ death be remembered?

     On the night of the annual Jewish Passover, Jesus instituted a simple procedure with his followers and commanded them: “Keep doing this in remembrance of me.” (1 Corinthians 11:24) Hours later, Jesus was put to death.

     Bible writers compared Jesus to the lamb sacrificed at the Passover. (1 Corinthians 5:7) Just as the Passover celebration reminded the Israelites that they had been freed from slavery, so the Memorial of Jesus Christ’s death reminds Christians that they have been freed from sin and death. The Passover, held on Nisan 14 according to the lunar calendar, was a yearly celebration; the early Christians likewise observed the Memorial once each year.

     Annually, on the date corresponding to Nisan 14, millions of people worldwide commemorate Jesus’ death.