“The Son of man came . . . to give his soul [or, life] a ransom in exchange for many.”—MARK 10:45.
JESUS knew what to expect. He understood that he would not live his life in peace. On the contrary, he was aware that his life would be tragically cut short while he was still in his 30’s, and he was fully prepared to face his death.
The Bible attaches great importance to the death of Jesus. One reference work says that the death of Jesus is mentioned directly some 175 times in the Christian Greek Scriptures, or New Testament. Why, though, did Jesus have to suffer and then die? We need to know, for the death of Jesus can have a profound effect on our life.
What Jesus expected
During the last year of his life, Jesus several times warned his disciples about the suffering and death that awaited him. On the way to Jerusalem to observe his final Passover, he told his 12 apostles: “The Son of man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and will deliver him to men of the nations, and they will make fun of him and will spit upon him and scourge him and kill him.” * (Mark 10:33, 34) Why was he so certain about what would happen to him?
Jesus was familiar with the many prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures that foretold how his life would end. (Luke 18:31-33) Consider some of the prophecies along with the Scriptural references that explain how they were fulfilled.
The Messiah would be . . .
Jesus fulfilled these and many other prophecies. There is no way that he could have done this on his own. The fulfillment of all these prophecies in Jesus proves that he was, indeed, sent by God. *
Why, though, was it necessary for Jesus to suffer and die?
Jesus died in order to settle vital issues
Jesus was aware of the issues of universal importance that were raised back in the garden of Eden. Influenced by a rebellious spirit creature, Adam and Eve chose to disobey God. The couple’s rebellion called into question the rightness of God’s sovereignty, or way of ruling. Their sin also raised the question of whether any humans would prove faithful to God under test.—Genesis 3:1-6; Job 2:1-5.
Jesus gave the most conclusive answer possible to both issues—Jehovah’s sovereignty and human integrity. By his perfect obedience “as far as death . . . on a torture stake,” Jesus upheld God’s sovereignty. (Philippians 2:8) Jesus also proved that a perfect man could maintain perfect integrity to Jehovah despite the severest of trials.
Jesus died in order to redeem humankind
The prophet Isaiah foretold that the promised Messiah’s suffering and death would provide atonement for the sins of humans. (Isaiah 53:5, 10) Jesus clearly understood this, and he willingly gave “his soul a ransom in exchange for many.” (Matthew 20:28) His sacrificial death opened the way for imperfect humans to have a good relationship with Jehovah and to be rescued from sin and death. Jesus’ death opens up to us the opportunity to regain what Adam and Eve lost—the prospect of living forever in perfect conditions on earth. *—Revelation 21:3, 4.
What you can do
In this series of articles, we have examined what the Bible says about Jesus—where he came from, how he lived, and why he died. Knowing those truths about Jesus can do more than clear up misconceptions about him. Acting in harmony with them can bring blessings—a better life now and everlasting life in the future. The Bible tells us what we need to do if we are to reap such benefits.
Learn more about Jesus Christ and his role in Jehovah’s purpose.—JOHN 17:3.
Jehovah’s Witnesses would be pleased to assist you in learning more about Jesus Christ, the “only-begotten Son” of God, through whom we may receive the gift of “everlasting life.”—John 3:16.
^ par. 5 Jesus often referred to himself as “the Son of man.” (Matthew 8:20) This expression shows not only that he was fully human but also that he was the “son of man” referred to in Bible prophecy.—Daniel 7:13, 14.
^ par. 13 For more information about prophecies that were fulfilled in Jesus, see the appendix topic “Jesus Christ—The Promised Messiah” of the book What Does the Bible Really Teach? published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.