Why did Christ have to suffer?
I still get emails with questions that I love answering. While I have been out of the debate and apologetics circus for a while, emails like the below make we want to get back in. I’m planning to do more writing, debating, and speaking this year, so here’s a new email I got today to get that started.
Watching the Jesus Debate on TV…Why did Christ have to suffer the way 1000’s of others did in his day by Hanging on a cross? Its been said, Christ had to shed blood in order to save us. Why this method? Was there not another way to save us? Or, is this a religious concept created years later after the brutal crucifixion.
Glad to hear they are still playing the debate on tv – that was a lot of fun to do.
As for your previous email question regarding why Christ had to suffer by hanging on a cross and why did he have to shed blood: first I would say that the hanging on a cross part was not crucial in origin. Meaning when God concocted his plan he could have used any method initially, however, once the plan was set (before the world was created) the Old Testament prophecies pointed toward this future event in which God had ordained crucifixion as the method. Therefore it became critical that this be fulfilled otherwise the supposed messiah was not really the messiah because his death wasn’t inline with OT prophecy – so Jesus would not have been the Messiah that Israel was waiting for. That can go into another direction so I’ll just leave it at that.
As for why the shedding of blood, I believe scripture is clear on the sacredness and importance of blood as the life in all things. Essentially this is the most important thing we have in our bodies, our blood fuels all of our body and the ‘shedding of blood’ is a perfect representation of complete death. So the key isn’t in the blood shedding per se but in what that means, the complete death of a living thing. Hebrews 9:22 makes it clear that the rules of the OT law was that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness”. Essentially, there must be punishment for sin and that punishment must be death (Romans 6:23). Now Christ, the Messiah, served our punishment for us; “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). So by his shedding of blood, which satisfies the OT law requirement of punishment, we are forgiven and found not guilty before God.
Keep in mind, God made an impossible standard for us to keep – that being Holiness. He is perfect and holy, and in order for us to be in his presence we too must be perfect and holy. However, we cannot as we are faulty creatures due to our free-will, and so in lacking holiness we deserve punishment of death. So God uses the Messiah as our mediator in order for us not to suffer the death punishment. And as the Messiah is God himself, he forgoes his human nature by punishment of death and continues in his God nature as King for eternity.
Now I realize this opens up a lot more questions, but overall these are the answers as to why Christ had to die on a cross and why his blood must be shed.