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Christian Union: The Magazine
March 29, 2024

Reflection for Good Friday 

by erin conner, writer and communications associate

In an article entitled "Why Did Jesus Die?" written by Tevin Wax in 2007 for the Gospel Coalition, Wax addresses five significant reasons why Jesus, God-made-flesh who came as the Messiah for all humanity, had to die.

This article and other videos and resources that help to explain the significance of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection are part of Christian Union's CU Rise online evangelism campaign "Jesus Disrupts," which is currently underway and can be found at www.curise.org

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In Wax's article, he shares the following five points of reflection regarding the purpose of the death of Christ Jesus: 

Isaiah 52:14, 53:3-4

Our God knows what it is like to suffer. He is acquainted with grief. God has knowledge of suffering. He is not distant from our pain. He is not above grief. He knows what it is like to suffer, because Jesus suffered. Isaiah teaches us that not only were our sins placed on Christ, but also the implications that come from our sins – over very pain and sorrow and suffering and grief – all those things that are caused by sin, they were on Jesus too.

Night is a short book describing Elie Wiesel’s year in Auschwitz and Buchenwald. Wiesel describes in horrific detail the “chimney,” – the place where Jews (even babies) were thrown alive into a blazing fire. Wiesel rebels against God. He refuses to fast on Jewish holy days. He questions the existence of God. The human evil of Auschwitz is too overwhelming to comprehend. Wiesel claims that human words cannot express the suffering he experienced.

The most disturbing scene in the book takes place when an innocent boy only 12 years old is forced to die, though he did not commit the crime for which he is punished. He and three others are placed on the gallows and hanged. The rest of the prisoners are forced to walk by and look squarely into the faces of the executed. But “the third rope was still moving. The child, too light, was still breathing… And so he remained for more than half an hour, lingering between life and death, writing before our eyes…”

“Behind me, I heard the same man asking, ‘For God’s sake, where is God?'” And from within me, I heard a voice answer: ‘Where He is? This is where – hanging here from this gallows…'” This account is a turning point for Wiesel. In his thoughts at that time, God is dead. Yet, as a Christian, I sense something deeper in this story. In the midst of human suffering and evil, I too look to an Innocent One dying an excruciating death. And when considering the depth of human evil and the love of a good God, I too ask, “Where is God?” and then see the form of a cross. “He is here, hanging on this tree…”

Isaiah 53:5-6

Why did Jesus have to die? Because the wages of sin is death. If Jesus is going to save the world, he must take upon himself the punishment that should be reserved only for the guilty. The innocent man dies in the place of the guilty.

Jesus’ death pays for our sins. His suffering and death show the world just how seriously God takes sin. We do not serve a God who simply shrugs his shoulders at sin. He abhors it. He detests it. He must deal with it. And he does that by demanding a perfect sacrifice to atone for sins. Jesus, His Son, is the One who pays the price.

Isaiah 53:5-6

As Christians, we have peace with God. Shalom is restored. Because of Jesus’ death on the cross, the Bible says we are reconciled to God.

Before we trust in Christ, we are enemies of God. We are either friends or enemies of God. There is no in between. And our sin separates us from God, places enmity between us. As hard as that teaching may be, that is what Scripture says. Human beings are at war with their Creator… until Jesus steps in as the peacemaker. Jesus enters your heart and life and you go from being an enemy of God to being a friend of God. Peace is declared!

When we come to Jesus, we are waving the white flag of surrender! Peace has won! We go from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. God looks at our sin, our war against Him and can forgive us, because Jesus has died in our place. Jesus has paid the price for our rebellion and now we are reconciled to God.

We not only have peace with God; we also have peace with other people. It breaks the heart of God to see his church so recklessly divided, to see warring factions within churches, quarrels and catfights and gossip. To see grudges and hard feelings. After all, the church is the one place where things should be different, where peace between human beings should reign supreme! It’s not enough to enjoy peace with God, we must actively pursue peace with our neighbor.

Isaiah 53:5

Sickness and dying were some of the results of sin marring God’s good creation. God doesn’t intend only on healing our souls and leaving our bodies sick. He is a healing God. Jesus’ death bought our healing. Now, we still get sick and die, but our resurrection bodies and the life of the age to come will be a life without suffering and sickness and dying. Disease and sickness will be no more. 

John Piper says, “The horrible blows to the back of Jesus bought a world without disease.” Jesus took death and disease to the grave with him and that is where he left them, before going through death and emerging on the other side of death, in a risen state that is hard to comprehend. Jesus died to heal us of physical sickness.

So what do we do when we pray for healing today? We are asking God to apply the benefits of Jesus’ death to our physical ailments today, in anticipation of what He has promised to do in the future. It doesn’t mean that we will be free of all physical ailments. It doesn’t mean that God is somehow bound to heal us if we have enough faith. God is sovereign and He does what He wills. It does mean we should trust in our God’s healing power, understanding that we can ask for healing and believe that He has the power to heal us. We also submit to His will, knowing that He may choose not to heal us. And that’s okay too, because ultimate healing is on the way in the new heavens and new earth.

Isaiah 53:10-11

We don’t like to talk about the wrath of God. It makes God sound angry. But let me ask you what you would think about someone who saw an evil event occur and just shrugged his shoulders? What would you think about a person who saw the holocaust taking place and just said, “so be it”? What would you think about a judge who saw your baby being kidnapped and abused and said to the criminal, “that’s okay, try to do better next time!”

You would be horrified at that type of justice. God is understandably angry over evil. He has made a good creation and his creatures have rebelled against him. The world is not as it should be. God must judge sin, and he must judge ALL sin. That is why Jesus had to die.

If God did not have wrath toward sin, he would not be a just God. If God allowed His wrath to consume the whole world, He would be just. But God is not only just. He is also loving. That is why He decided to uphold his justice and his mercy at the same time through Jesus Christ.

On the cross, God was being perfectly just and perfectly merciful. He was being just by pouring his wrath against sin upon his only Son. He was being merciful by taking the initiative to absorb that wrath Himself, thus allowing us to escape his judgment.

Christian Union is praying for the reconciliation of many to God through faith in Christ Jesus this Easter and Passover season, for Christ died for us while we were still sinners in a sacrificial display of the Father's love that can only be received, not earned, by each individual human heart.  

Join us in prayer.