For centuries, various Philosophers have studied and postulated theories about human behaviour. Thomas Hobbes, a 17th century Philosopher said, “People only do the right thing because they fear being punished if they get caught”.
Recent studies have attempted to debunk this research by trying to prove that people tend to be less selfish when they cooperate but it was also established that people tend to cooperate if they know that they would benefit in a way.
This brings us to the question, “Did Jesus have to die?” I pondered over this question for a while and realised that it could not be answered unless we shift our focus to the question, “Why did Jesus have to die?”
In the John 15:13 Jesus said, ‘Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.’ One word jumps out to us from this verse, ‘Love’. Jesus established in these few words that the motivation for laying down His life was the love he has for man.
The kind of love referred to here is not the one loosely used between two people who have affection for one another. In fact Jesus commanded us, ‘But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven’ (Matthew 5:44-45) This is the kind of love that expects nothing back; in fact any act based on this kind of love is likely to be rebuffed.
So now we know why Jesus died. He loved man - us. He was prepared to lay His life down for us. He did not die merely because some people decided to conspire to kill Him because they did not like His teaching. In fact, Jesus clearly stated, “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father” (John 10: 17-18)
Jesus died to fulfil the requirement of divine law, “The person who sins will die. “ (Ezekiel 18:20) Jesus did not die for His sins - He was sinless, He died for the sin of humankind. Man had tried over the centuries to appease God with the blood of animals but all it did was to remind man of his sinful state constantly without any way of escape. Jesus made Himself the ultimate sacrifice, once and for all so that all men may be saved.
Now that we have answered the ‘Why’ we can now go back to our original question. ‘Did Jesus have to die?’ From Jesus’ perspective, yes He had to. It was the only we He could redeem mankind whom He loved so dearly that He was willing and ready to forgo the glory and majesty of heaven for a season.
From the perspective of man, Jesus didn’t have to die for us. He chose to. We did not deserve it nor did we earn the right to benefit from His Kingdom. It was a choice He made for us. God could have wiped out mankind when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden. He could also have wiped out the entire human race without sparing Noah and his family but every act of God shows His mercy and love for mankind. Even in our rebellion, God always gives us an opportunity to escape through the choice He gives to us. (Dueteronomy 30:19)
As a I ponder over the question, “Did Jesus Have To Die?” I am full of gratitude knowing that Jesus didn’t have to die for me but He chose to die anyway.
What a selfless sacrifice by the one who gave Himself for us even at the risk of us turning our backs on Him!