Why Did Jesus Have to Suffer?
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.—1 John 4:9-10
No one disputes that Jesus Christ suffered. But the idea that His suffering was necessary—that He had to suffer has often been the subject of scorn from those who have criticized and ridiculed Christianity through the centuries. It is also what sets Christianity apart.
Muslims, for example, show respect for the person of Christ, but see the cross of Christ as a stumbling block and regard Christ’s atonement through suffering as foolishness. Friedrich Nietzsche dismissed the concept of Christ’s suffering by saying, “God on a cross—preposterous!”
As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we resolutely stand in this ridicule and embrace the cross of Christ. This perfectly illustrates 1 Corinthians 1:18: “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
But for our opportunity for growth, let’s address the issue of why it was essential that Jesus suffered. Here are four reasons:
· Jesus suffered . . . to pay for the sins of mankind. First John 4:10 says, “And this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propiation for our sin.” The key word is propiation or payment. It wasn’t enough for Him to die. Jesus had to pay a debt. The payment was necessary.
· Jesus suffered . . . to satisfy the demands of God’s wrath.As much as God loves you, He hates your sin with a holy, burning hatred that we cannot comprehend. The only way that He could embrace you was to get someone else—someone perfect, to pay for it. (See Romans 5:1.)
· Jesus suffered . . . to purchase the opportunity for our sins to be forgiven.No longer do we have to carry our sin around. We can be forgiven. God laid all of our sinfulness upon Jesus as He willingly suffered and died upon the cross. The debt was paid, opening the door to my forgiveness and yours.
· Jesus suffered . . . to provide the way to eternal life. To get a gift, you must receive it (Romans 6:23). Have you? Do you know that Jesus is the gift of eternal life? His suffering has made that gift possible.
That’s the Gospel; that’s the whole subject. Jesus paid for the sins of mankind. He suffered to buy our forgiveness. So the question remains—are you carrying around the burden of your sin and the wrong that you’ve done. Forgiveness. I tell you—it’s Good News! —James MacDonald
· Have I trusted in the payment of Jesus’ suffering and death for what I owed God for my sin? How do I know this?
· Who in my life can I share this Good News with today?
Prayer: Father, You sent Your only Son to pay for the debt that I owed. Why You did that is hard to comprehend. Jesus Christ did nothing wrong, and I can’t seem to stay away from sin! What an amazing gift You have given me. Thank You for bringing me into a relationship with You through Your Son, Jesus Christ. Help me to never forget the debt Christ paid for me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.