It’s not how but why Christ died

Jesus' death was the ultimate punishment, because it was entirely unmerited.

I am writing in response to Mike Jones’ Tuesday opinion. Jones expressed some legitimate concerns regarding Jesus’ death, and I would like to explain what Christians believe.

Jones asks, “Why did Christians’ man-god have to suffer at the hands of Pontius Pilate?” He also wondered whether Christ’s punishment truly was “the ultimate punishment” and finally, “Why Ö an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent being (would) need to torture his subjects Ö in order to alter the judicial procedures of hell?”

An overview of the Old Testament is in order. God is, by nature, purely holy and good. He is not a “perverse tyrant,” but is, ultimately, incapable of evil and sin, as they are completely contrary to his nature. Because of this nature, he cannot accept anything less than perfection. I don’t think that he wants to send people to hell, but has to do so because he cannot tolerate sin.

In Leviticus 19:2 the Lord commands Moses and the Israelites to “Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.” How, then, were the people to be holy? What was the standard? To solve this dilemma, God gave the Israelites the law. This law included the Ten Commandments and various other decrees and sacrifices necessary to “atone” for the sins committed. These sacrifices often involved the slaughter of first-born animals that were of highest stock and without defect.

Once again, these were necessary because of the nature of God. Sin demanded atonement and because “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), death was the used atonement. There was no other way. This was the tradition for some 2,000 years, until the birth of Jesus Christ.

First born in his family and of the line of David, Jesus was God incarnate. Jesus lived a life that was mostly spent working as a carpenter. But toward the end of his life, he started speaking and teaching, mostly to the people of Israel. Then, as is depicted by the four Gospels, Jesus died on the cross.

As Jones stated, his death wasn’t completely out of the ordinary as deaths went in the day. Perhaps what was important, however, was not so much how Jesus died but why he died. Jesus’ death was “the ultimate punishment,” not because of the way he died but because it was entirely unmerited. Jesus had committed no sin. He was perfect. One John 2:2 declares, “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”

Because Jesus took our place and our righteous punishment, which is death, he “wiped the slate clean” between us and God. He bridged the gap that sin had caused. This is why we celebrate Easter and why, as Jones remarked, we “have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God.”(Romans 6:22) This offer is available to all willing to accept it. All things considered, I have one final question: “Why does God love us so much that he sent his son to die in our place?”

Jesse Randall is a University student. Please send comments to [email protected]