why did Jesus die?
a mother’s sacrifice
On Sunday, 16 August 1987, Northwest Airlines flight 225 crashed just after taking off from Detroit airport. 155 people died. One survived, a four year old from Arizona, named Cecelia. News accounts say when rescuers found Cecilia they did not believe she had been on the plane. Investigators first assumed she had been a passenger in one of the cars on the highway onto which the plane crashed. But when the passenger register for the flight was checked, there was Cecilia’s name. Cecilia survived because, as the plane was falling, Cecilia’s mother, Paul Chican, unbuckled her own seat belt, got down on her knees in front of her daughter, wrapped her arms and body around Cecilia, and then would not let go.
Nothing could separate that child from her parent’s love – not tragedy or disaster, nor the fall or the flames that followed, not height nor depth, not life nor death. Such is the love Christ has for us. He left heaven, lowered himself to us, and covered us with the sacrifice of his own body to save us.
A story about a little boy, Johnny, whose sister needed a blood transfusion. The doctor explained that she had the same disease the boy had recovered from two years earlier. Her only chance for recovery was a transfusion from someone who had previously conquered the disease. Since the two children had the same rare blood type, the boy was the ideal donor.
“Would you give your blood to Mary?” the doctor asked.
Johnny hesitated. His lower lip started to tremble. Then he smiled and said, “Sure, for my sister.”
Soon the two children were wheeled into the hospital room — Mary, pale and thin; Johnny, robust and healthy. Neither spoke, but when their eyes met, Johnny grinned.
As the nurse inserted the needle into his arm, Johnny’s smile faded. He watched the blood flow through the tube. With the ordeal almost over, his voice, slightly shaky, broke the silence. “Doctor, when do I die?’ Only then did the doctor realize why Johnny had hesitated, why his lip had trembled when he’d agreed to donate his blood. He thought that giving his blood to his sister meant he would give up his life. In that brief moment, he had made his great decision.
Fortunately, Johnny didn’t have to die to save his sister. Each of us, however, has a condition more serious than Mary’s, and it required Jesus to give not just his blood but his life. The Bible says we have a fatal disease that cannot be cured by the best medicines or most unselfish actions. We have sinned. Christ had to die to shed his blood so that we might be forgiven and cleansed from our sin and sinful nature.
the bird cage
One Easter Sunday morning the minister came to the church carrying a rusty, bent, old bird cage, and set it by the pulpit. Several eyebrows were raised and, as if in response, he began to speak.
"I was walking through town yesterday when I saw a young boy coming toward me, swinging this bird cage. On the bottom of the cage were three little wild birds, shivering with cold and fright. I stopped the lad and asked, 'What have you got there?"
"Just some old birds," came the reply.
"What are you going do with them?" I asked.
"Take 'em home and have fun with 'em. I'm going to tease 'em and pull out their feathers to make 'em fight. I'm gonna have a real good time."
"But you'll get tired of those birds sooner or later. What will you do then?"
"Oh, I’ve got some cats. They like birds. I'll take 'em to them."
The man fell silent for a moment.
"How much do you want for those birds?"
"Huh?! Why, you don't want them birds, mister. They're just plain old field birds. They don't sing. They aren’t even pretty!"
The boy sized him up as if he were crazy and said, "£5?"
The man reached in his pocket and took out a five pound note. He placed it in the boy's hand. In a flash, the boy was gone.
The man picked up the cage and gently carried it to the end of the alley where there was a tree and a grassy spot. Setting the cage down, he opened the door, and by softly tapping the bars, persuaded the birds out, setting them free.
Well, that explained the empty birdcage on the pulpit, and then the minister began to tell this story.
Satan had just come from the Garden of Eden, and he was gloating and boasting. "Yes! I’ve just caught the world full of people down there. I set a trap, used bait I knew they couldn't resist. I’ve got them all!"
"What are you going to do with them?" Jesus asked.
"Oh, I'm going to have fun! I'm going to teach them how to hate and abuse each other, how to invent guns and bombs and kill others, and so much more. I'm really going to enjoy this!"
"And what will you do when you’ve finished with them?" Jesus asked.
"Oh, I'll kill them."
"How much do you want for them?"
"Oh, you don't want those people. They aren’t any good. Why, you take them and they'll just hate you. They'll spit on you, curse, and kill you! You don't want those people!"
The devil looked at Jesus and sneered, "All your tears, and all your blood." Jesus paid the price. He picked up the cage…
He opened the door.
for reflection and discussion
Let us reflect on our own lives as we study how the New Testament writer Paul described mankind’s relationship with God.
The Problem: “All have sinned” (Romans 3:23, 6:23) and are alienated from God.
The Solution: Jesus Christ accomplished all that was necessary to bring us into relationship with God. Because of his death on the cross for us, we can know that our sins are forgiven and that the causes of separation between God and us have been dealt with.
What three pictures does Paul use to describe this in Romans 3:21-26?
The pollution of sin is removed. The power of sin is broken. The penalty of sin has been paid.
In 2 Corinthians 5:19 Paul says that we are now reconciled to God through Christ –the partition of sin has been destroyed. Galatians 2:20 says that Christ died for you and me.
The Response: What must we do to know forgiveness and to be put in a right relationship with God?