Why Did Jesus Die?
John 17:1 ¶ After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you,
John 17:2 since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.
John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
It is in Jesus' prayer before his death that we have a glimpse of his personal understanding of the path that lay ahead. The hour had come, it was now time for this final chapter of his life on earth to be written. The connection between the Father and the Son is always present. When the Son is glorified, the Father is glorified for they are one, but the Son was on a mission. His mission was to save God's people -- all people and to provide a path for them to have eternal life. Interestingly here we don't hear the language of saving people from their sins, but John allows us to hear this plan of salvation for humanity -- "that they may know you." Jesus' death on the cross was ultimately so that humanity might have the incredible privilege of intimately knowing God.
Today we will go to our churches and we will "celebrate" (a strange word to use) the death of Jesus on the cross. It is truly a day of remembrance and mourning over the horrible and painful death that Jesus was willing to suffer for each and every single one of us. What Jesus experienced that day was probably worse than anything any of us could ever imagine. He was completely undeserving of this punishment. It was customary for the crimes of the individuals to be nailed to be written on a sign and nailed to the cross so that passersby would know what they had done to deserve their punishment. This was to be a deterrent to those who might think about committing the same crime, but for Jesus, the sign stated, "King of the Jews." This was his crime and just so that was clear for all the world to see it was written in three languages. And so on that terrible "Good Friday" so long ago Jesus died on a cross because he was the King of the Jews.
As King he ushered in a new kingdom that day, one that was not interested in earthly and material wealth, but one in which relationships were restored. The great divide between God and humanity was destroyed and now those who walked in faith could have a personal and intimate relationship with God for all of eternity. This death made it possible for all of humanity to become "partakers of the divine nature." This is what it means to "know" God and Jesus Christ. Because of this "Good Friday" we are invited into an intimate relationship with the Triune God. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit -- bound together by this incredible holy loving relationship is reaching out to all of humanity and saying "come and join us!"
Yes, Jesus died for our sins, but that is only the beginning of the story and too often we allow it to end there. What Jesus did was open the door for humanity to be restored as God's holy people by way of participating in an intimate relationship with the Triune God. Therefore his death is not just about a moment, but it's about a lifetime of participating in God. If we limit Christ's sacrifice to a single moment of salvation we lose out on God's entire intent. Jesus' prayer makes it clear. Eternal life is to know God! And to know God is to participate in and with him on a daily basis, all this made possible through Jesus, the King's obedience. That's why Jesus died!
There aren't enough words to express gratitude for what you've done. Thank you seems so inadequate but my heart is filled with joy and thanksgiving today for all that you have done for me and continue to do daily. Amen.