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Why did Christ have to die?

If you have been around a faithful Lutheran Church for a while, I would hope you would have an idea of the answer. ”He died for our sins to be forgiven!’’ would be the immediate answer. Ok, but no more? Could not God have forgiven us without Christ dying for us? This is a bad question because the Bible does not answer it and because the only way God forgives our sin is through Christ’s blood. As our Lord says: “this is my blood of the covenant which is poured for the multitude for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28). He gives us His blood and forgiveness in the Eucharist. Who are we to debate with God on how He could have forgiven us? Believe His promise, and drink it in faith and joy!

Yet, there is much more to the death of Christ on the Cross. The sin of Adam and Eve separated them and us from God and His love. Because of this, we were all born without the life-giving and transforming presence of God. Without God, the source of all life, we become mortal. God had warned them: “For the day that you eat of the tree you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17). Without the life of God in us, we turn inward and rot in our sin from the inside. We are like a dying person slowly losing his blood and growing weaker as time goes by. Sin and death oppress us until they kill us completely and the devil is more than happy to accelerate the process. We are like slaves in chains with merciless tyrants. And we got into that situation by our sin.

Christ dies because death was the consequence or punishment of sin both for our first parents and for us. Christ became man to die for us. He is God made flesh. He is Life in person who became one of us. He is our substitute - He dies the death we deserve. All of humanity is represented or assumed in Christ. It is like being connected to an IV at the hospital. If you disconnect the patient, he will die. Christ connected Himself to us as our new Adam (Romans 5). Just as Adam gives us death and took God’s life away from us, Christ gives us life again. He filled human nature with His divine life and connected all human beings to Himself. By death He conquered death because His divine life overcame it. “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on last day” (John 6:54). “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Since we are connected to Him in baptism and by faith, we receive this life and are restored in our communion with God. Instead, of “you will surely die”,’ we are told by Scripture that Christ surely died for us and that we will surely have life through Him.

So, contrarily to films like Mel Gibson’s “The Passion”, which is almost a horror movie, the Passion and Cross of our Lord bring us joy. For it means that we are truly free from sin, death and the devil’s tyranny through Christ’s Almighty and life-giving power. We are restored in our original communion with God. Now we slowly grow in that communion and in being holy like our Father in heaven is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16; Matthew 5:48). We’ll only fully experience this union with God on the other side of eternity. So, during Lent as we meditate on the Passion of our Lord, we cry out in joy with Luther: “I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord, who has

redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and delivered me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, in order that I may be wholly His own, and live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, even as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true”. (Small Catechism)

 

~ Pastor Jason

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