Why was it necessary for Jesus to die on a cross?

This question should haunt any believing Christian.  An all powerful God could solve the problem anyway he wanted.  Why choose a tortured death?  Jesus cried out from the cross, “My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?”  While this statement raises many more questions, it is important to note that even the son of God asked “Why?”

Some have simplified the answer down to a math problem.

  • God is righteous + Man sinned = A death is required

Personally, I do not find this equation helpful.  It makes God seem weak or, at best, the victim of his own foolish vow.  It reminds me of the ruler returning from victory who promised the first thing he saw to God.  When his daughter ran out to greet him, he was grief stricken but followed through with his vow.  Is this really the best explanation we can come up with?

Consider Malala Yousufzai.  She was the young girl of 14 who publicly spoke out for the education of women in Pakistan.  Two taliban men shot her at point blank range on a busy street.  The world was horrified, even the islamic world.  Street protests in Islamabad drew tens of thousands of demonstrators against their action.  Never had a protest in Pakistan been so successfully waged against those extreme islamic viewpoints.  What made this movement so compelling was because the actions were so hideous and performed against someone so innocent in full view of so many.

Jesus on the cross was just such a demonstration.  It was made even more profound by the perfect innocence of its victim and the brutality of the death.  The demonstration of perfect love brutalized by the hatred of the world lifted up for all to see makes it impossible to remain neutral.  The law alone could not show us how utterly attrocious sin was. However, Jesus’ gift and the actions of the mob both condemned sin and revealed righteousness.

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