Why did Christ die?

Based On: Isaiah 53:5

This is the day Christ died. As we hear the Scripture lessons being read we can almost see the body of Christ – his back torn by the scourge, blood dripping from his thorn pierced head. The nails in his hands and feet may be too gory to visualize, but there he hung on the cross to die. Not simply the death you and I will go through, but a separation from God – he suffered hell itself.

Why did Christ die? Why did he suffer hell? He didn’t break any laws. He never sinned against any human being, but loved each and every one of us. He never even sinned against God, but obeyed him perfectly. Why did God punish him?

Jesus did not cross over the line God drew with his holy law. We are the ones who transgressed that line. The transgressions are ours. Also the iniquity, the injustices done to others and to God – they belonged to us, not him.

We are the ones who sin against our fellow human beings. Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” but we serve ourselves and look out for ourselves. We think, “I have enough problems to deal with. Let me take care of myself first” or better yet, “my neighbor can take care of himself.”

We are also the ones who rebel against God every chance we get. Our God who created us demands perfect obedience. Every moment of every day our focus should be on him and our goal with every action should be to glorify him. Each moment that we seek to serve ourselves instead of God is punishable by an eternity in hell.

We have failed. We need to be healed of this disease called sin that infects every part of us. We need peace between us and God because we made God our enemy. But we can’t heal ourselves; we can’t bring peace to this relationship on our own. God had to do it for us. Jesus had to die for us.

Jesus, our Savior, carried no transgressions of his own, no iniquity that belonged to him. The transgressions and iniquity belonged to us; yet, it was his hands and feet that the nails pierced and his side that the spear was thrust into. It was his body that felt the crushing weight of guilt – the guilt of all our sins.

Hell was the punishment we deserved, but God declared Jesus guilty and punished him instead. That punishment appeased the righteous anger of God and there is now peace between us and God.

Open wounds bled from his body after the scourge tore into his back and the nails went through his flesh and the thorns pierced his head. These are the wounds we deserve for our lack of love, but do his wounds bring us healing? Yes. They heal our body from the disease of sin.

We deserved the cross of Christ. We deserved the hell he suffered at the hand of the just God. We deserved the death he suffered. But Christ took our place. He was crucified and suffered hell for us.

The Old Testament prophet Isaiah describes this clearly, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

Amen.

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