Why did Jesus die on the cross? There are some who say that Jesus had to die in order to satisfy God’s wrath against sin. That without a sinless sacrifice God’s anger could never be appeased. But I believe that paints a too small picture of God. It makes it sound like his creation had backed him into a corner, and the only way out was via Jesus’ death on the cross.
1 Corinthians 1:18-25 gives us a better reason for the cross, and Jesus’ death on it. Some people are hung up on wisdom. If something does not seem rational to them, like the cross, then they reject it. Other people look for the miraculous, looking for God to prove himself to them. But God cares about faith on our part, something that is not compatible with proof via miracles or rational thought. So God gave us a crucified messiah, something that is offensive to the religiously minded, and foolish to the intellectually minded, and rejected by both. But those who come in faith to that crucified, and risen, messiah, will find eternal life with God.
A Demonstration of Love
So our response to the cross is a test of faith; do we have it or not! But it is more than that. Who would you die for? I suspect most would willingly give their lives for a spouse or child, with some having a wider but still restricted circle. Why am I so willing to die for my immediate family? Because I love them. And what more vivid of a demonstration of my love for them could there be than to die in their place.
And that is a second reason for the cross.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.Romans 5:8 NIV
God provided a demonstration his love for us in a pretty dramatic fashion; by dying as a sacrifice, taking my place. How much does God love me? Enough to die for me, even when I was in rebellion against him. When I see the cross, rather than seeing a gruesome death or an instrument of torture, I should see a symbol of God’s love for me. Like my wife’s wedding ring is a symbol of my love and commitment to her, so the cross is a symbol of God’s love and commitment to me. And that symbol of love should be good in pretty much any language.