Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
Why did Jesus have to die? Theologians have argued this question for centuries. And, they have left youth confused.
Some of us have answered glibly, "Our sins made Him die." And you'll get an A+ for that answer; easy to say.
You can argue all night but the simple fact remains--people of flesh and blood killed Him. It wasn't that He had to die--the public couldn't stand to have Him around any more. (Wait a moment: we're not denying that He had to die--the point is that it wasn't the Father who killed Him; and it wasn't the devil, bad as he is. People killed Him. And that's what you and I are, people.)
Nobody would ever have been killed if sin had not come into this planet; sin is what kills people. And Jesus "became" sin, was "made to be sin," gave Himself up to become the embodiment of sin, took the blame for every evil deed that any sin-crazed human has ever committed. God "made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us" (2 Cor. 5:21).
From then on, nature simply took its course. "The wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23); and since He "became sin," death had to take over. Every evil, hateful, selfish thought that anyone has ever indulged, He "became" it. It was hateful to Him, yes, but far more hateful than we have imagined. It was all so hateful to him that it killed Him. The Creator, Redeemer of the universe takes this hateful thing called sin into His own bosom, not that He ever loved it but because He loved us.
His death that sin caused was not the "first," which is a mere unconscious state we call sleep. The death that sin brought Him was the second, the one that He could not see through. A wise writer has said, "Hope did not present to Him His coming forth from the grave a conqueror."
It is likened to His drinking a cup of the most bitter substance imaginable; He gulped it all down, right to the last drop. It all meant that His Father had turned His back on Him forever; He was alone in a dark, endless universe, utterly hopeless, sensing He was a total failure forever. No other human soul in all eternity has ever drank that cup down. Utterly lethal. But many youth have tasted it; they know their hours of despair.
Don't wonder that sin killed Him. If sin is what you love, God is not going to beat you senseless in a total divine rage; the sin you love will do the job. What it did to Him, it will do to you.
As sure as the sun rises tomorrow morning, the Holy Spirit will in love bring to your soul a supernatural conviction of sin. Welcome Him; drop everything to listen. What a thousand psychiatrists can't do for us, the Holy Spirit will do in a few moments' time. Turn on your hearing aid!
--Robert J. Wieland
From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 10, 2004.
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