Why Did Jesus Die? Conclusion
Updated: Jun 26
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Throughout this series, we have delved into the question, "Why did Jesus die?" We have covered many Scripture passages and themes. We have looked at four models of atonement and seen how they fit together. I want to conclude this series by providing a straightforward answer that puts all these pieces together, an elevator pitch version of this series's answer to "Why did Jesus die?" For anyone who has not read the rest of the series but as you read the conclusion and are interested in the biblical and theological background, I would refer you back to the rest of the series.
Jesus, the eternal Son of God, is the very image of God the Father. When God made human beings, He made them after the pattern of Jesus. As a result, Jesus is our head and can represent all of us. When Adam, the first human made after the image of Jesus, fell into sin, his sin spread to the rest of the human race. Jesus, our head, entered human life and lived a life of obedience to correct the disobedience of Adam that invaded humanity, including His death on the cross.
God's loving character results in His wrath toward sin. He is angered by the way our sin hurts other people He loves. His love also motivates Him to discipline and correct the harmful behaviors of perpetrators, whom He also loves. His covenant relationship with Israel lays out the penalties for sin based on His character. Because Jesus can act on our behalf, He bears the covenant penalty in our place so that we can be reconciled to God and forgiven for sin.
Satan, the evil one, has a title to human beings. As the Accuser, he has a case against us because we are guilty. Because Jesus has removed the penalty for our sins, Satan no longer has a case against us and no longer has any claim over us. Jesus' death released Satan's hold over us. Satan participated in Jesus' death because he could not understand the logic of love that motivated Jesus. His self-deception and weakness contributed to his own defeat.
Because Jesus has released us from any hold Satan has over us, He has also freed us from the power and presence of sin in our lives. The horror of Jesus' death shows how evil the human heart can be. By revealing the evil in our hearts, Jesus directs us away from our sinful desires. By showing us God's self-sacrificial love for us on the cross, it enkindles love in us that follows His pattern of living. Thanks to the Holy Spirit living in us and connecting us to Christ, He is removing the sin in our hearts and empowering us to live the lives of joyful obedience He created us for, obedience that leads to life rather than the sin that results in death.
There is so much more that could be said, and has been said, throughout church history, about what Jesus' death accomplished for us. There is a list of resources at the bottom of this article for those who wish to learn more His death is only one facet of His work on our behalf. We have not touched on His life, resurrection, ascension, life in the Spirit, or Jesus' return. For now, the deepest response to Jesus' death for us is one of grateful worship. I leave you with a hymn I have come to love.
To dive deeper, check out the following resources.
The Mosaic of Atonement by Joshua McNall is an incredible and thorough resource that has been our primary discussion partner throughout this series. I highly recommend the full work. Note, it is an academic work but remains clear and readable.
McNall has also written a shorter and similar introduction to atonement teaching for lay Christians that is accessible while retaining a wealth of information titled How Jesus Saves. I highly recommend this book to those who prefer a simpler version. I have reviewed this new work in a forthcoming issue of Calvin Theological Journal.
For those who prefer watching/listening rather than reading due to time or learning styles, McNall also has a series of video lectures based on The Mosaic of Atonement.
Another great podcast interview with Prof. McNall was featured on the Church Grammar podcast.