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FOUNDATION TOPIC

Why Did Jesus Die
on the Cross?

Jesus willingly died, according to the plan of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, to pay the punishment due our sin (Romans 6:23), to satisfy God’s just wrath against our sin, and to remove our guilt so as to bring us into a new loving relationship with God. We call Jesus’ saving work, the atonement.

Related Topics
What's on this page?

To atone for our sin

Jesus' perfect sacrifice paid the penalty that we never could so that we could have a right standing before God the Father.

Theme Verse
2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Short Content

What Did the Death of Jesus Accomplish?

For those who have come to trust in and follow Jesus, our faith rests on the answer to one seemingly radical question—what did the death of Jesus accomplish?

That might seem like a strange question because when most people we know die, we don't ask what their death accomplished. When death strikes, we see it as a loss, not an accomplishment.

But Jesus’ death was totally unique—because Jesus is totally unique, being fully God and fully man. We often refer to Jesus as “the Christ,” which means the anointed one of God. He is God’s promised rescuer for humanity (Genesis 3:15).

For those who trust in him, his death accomplished something. It accomplished the most important victory imaginable (1 Corinthians 15:57).

So, what did Jesus’ death accomplish? To understand the Bible’s answer to this question, let’s use an illustration.

Imagine you were given a brand-new car as a gift. Suppose that new car had all the latest and greatest features, and it came with an endless supply of gas. The car is not the only gift then, but with the car you also receive all the possible experiences you can have because of where the car can take you.

Suppose there is one catch—you find out that the car has no engine. The moment you realize this, everything else about the car becomes worthless. You have no hope of arriving at any of the destinations you have in mind. What good is a shiny expensive new car if it doesn’t have an engine?

When we ask what the death of Jesus accomplished, we find that the Bible offers a multitude of answers—think of them like nice features on the new car.

  • Jesus’ death ransomed us from this present evil world and from Satan, the ruler of this world (Galatians 1:4; Hebrews 2:14) .
  • Jesus’ death and resurrection also brought new life, both spiritually and physically, to his followers (Isaiah 53:5; 2 Timothy 2:11; 1 John 5:11-12).
  • Jesus’ death also served as an example and the dawning of the new kind of humanity that Jesus came to establish (1 Corinthians 15:44-49; 1 Peter 2:21-24).

But there’s one reality in the New Testament that serves as the engine, or foundation, for all those other wonderful benefits.

More than anything else, Jesus died to reconcile us to God by atoning for our sins. This means he submitted to the full punishment that we deserved for our sins against God as a substitute on our behalf. Jesus drank the cup of God’s wrath on our behalf, as the Bible says (Matthew 26:42; John 18:11).

We owe an infinite debt to our creator because he is an infinite and holy God, and we have all rebelled and sinned against him. The Bible clearly states that the price of our penalty is nothing short of death and eternal punishment (Romans 6:23). But the Bible also says we can have redemption and the forgiveness of our trespasses “through his [Jesus’] blood… according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7 ESV).

The atoning work of Christ on our behalf serves as the engine of our faith and our hope. Someone had to pay our sin-debt. God paid it himself through Jesus. Without having our sins dealt with, we could never draw near to God or enjoy a relationship with him. We would never be able to drive the car and enjoy its features, so to speak.

All other benefits that we have gained, because of Jesus, stem from this one central reality—that Jesus Christ suffered and died in our place to pay the eternal penalty for our sins that we could never pay so that we might be reconciled to God.

by Bibles.net

OPEN
YOUR BIBLE

What Is the Atonement?
Image

Christ died
for our sins 
according to
the Scriptures
 

1 Corinthians 15:3 NIV
Article: 12 Min

5 Reasons Jesus Died on the Cross And the Meaning of Atonement

by Bibles.net

Definition

Atonement

The atonement is the work Christ did in his life and death to earn our salvation.

Praise & Worship

At Calvary

by Casting Crowns
Article: 10 Min

How Did Jesus Take Away the Sin of the World?

Contributed by our Friends at Crossway

Contemporary

Glorious Day

by Casting Crowns
Article: 7 Min

2 Reasons Jesus Died on the Cross

by Brian Rosner at The Gospel Coalition

Definition

Atonement

Atonement means making amends, blotting out the offense, and giving satisfaction for wrong done; thus reconciling to oneself the alienated other and restoring the disrupted relationship.

by J.I. Packer

Why did Jesus Die
on the cross?

Messages: 40 Min

Atonement

by Colin Smith

Quote

Two Important Words to Know Related to Atonement

by Jerry Bridges

Propitiation addresses the wrath of God. It is the work of Christ saving us from God’s wrath by absorbing it in his own person as our substitute. Expiation, which basically means “removal,” accompanies propitiation and speaks of the work of Christ in removing or putting away our sin.

Such is the symbolism of the two goats used on the Day of Atonement. The first goat represented Christ’s work of propitiation as it was killed and its blood sprinkled on the mercy seat. The second goat represented Christ’s work of expiation in removing or blotting out the sins that were against us. The object of propitiation is the wrath of God. The object of expiation is the sin, which must be removed from his presence. 

See quote source
Video: 2 Min
Article: 10 Min

4 Problems with Downplaying God’s Wrath

by Gavin Ortlund at The Gospel Coalition

A Capella

His Robes For Mine

by Ben Everson
Quote

Penal substitutionary atonement
is therefore a
straightforward exchange
wherein one person
bears the penalty
someone else deserves.
Christ’s death on the cross
was a penal substitution.
He bore the guilt
and punishment
for 
his people’s sins.

Verse
Luke 23:39-43 NIV

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!" But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Contemporary

How Love Wins (The Thief on the Cross)

by Steven Curtis Chapman
Article: 10 Min

The Love Story of Penal Substitutionary Atonement

by Michael Lawrence at 9Marks

Praise & Worship

I Stand Amazed

by Celtic Worship feat. Steph Macleod
Quote

How do we know that
God loves the world?
We look at the cross.
How do we know what
God’s love looks like?
We look at the cross.
On the cross
God gave his Son
as a sacrifice
for a sinful world
in full-tilt rebellion against him,
and the person
God gave for the world
wasn’t just anybody;
it was his one and only Son,
the incarnate Second
person of the Trinity,
whom the Father had
loved from all eternity
and with whom
he was well pleased.

Contemporary

Roses

by Andrew Ripp
Video: 2 Min
by Thabiti Anyabwile
at The Gospel Coalition
Quote

Why Did Jesus Have to Die?

by Anselm

It would not have been right for the restoration of human nature to be left undone, and… it could not have been done unless man paid what was owing to God for sin. But the debt was so great that, while man alone owed it, only God could pay it, so that the same person must be both man and God. Thus it was necessary for God to take manhood into the unity of his Person, so that he who in his own nature ought to pay and could not, should be in a person who could… 

Verse
Hebrews 2:17 NIV

For this reason he [Jesus] had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 

Contemporary

Resurrection Letters Anthology (Album)

by Andrew Peterson
Article: 15 Min

What the Last
Words of the
Most Famous Man
Tell Us About Him 

by Bibles.net

Hymns

Rock of Ages

by Chris Rice
Article: 30 Min

"This Is Love"

“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10 ESV) 

by Charles Spurgeon, 1896

Infographic

Rock of Ages,
Cleft for Me

We made a graphic so you can keep the classic hymn "Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me" on your phone as your background or screensaver!

Verse
Psalm 51:3-4 ESV

For I know my transgressions, 
    and my sin is ever before me. 
Against you, you only, have I sinned 
    and done what is evil in your sight, 
so that you may be justified in your words 
    and blameless in your judgment. 

Verse
Colossians 2:13-14 NIV

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 

How Did Jesus Save Us from Our Sins?
Quote

Jesus Takes Our Punishment

by Martin Luther

Our most merciful Father… sent his only Son into the world, and laid upon him all the sins of all men, saying, "You be Peter that denier; Paul that persecutor, blasphemer and cruel oppressor; David that adulterer; that sinner which did eat the apple in Paradise; that thief which hanged upon the cross; and briefly you must be the person which hath committed the sins of all men; see therefore that you pay and satisfy for them [all]."

Image

Christ redeemed us
from the curse
of the law
by becoming a curse
for us

Galatians 3:13 ESV
Article: 10 Min

How God’s Wrath Equals and Reveals God’s Worth

by Jonathan Leeman at For the Church

Quote

He died not for men,
but for each man.
If each man had been
the only man made, 
he would have done no less.

Article: 7 Min

The Satanic Doctrine of a Wrathless Cross

by Jared C. Wilson at The Gospel Coalition

Quote

How Were People in the Old Testament Saved?

by John MacArthur

No person was ever delivered from divine judgment by the death of any animal. The repeated sacrifice of animals was simply a continual symbol of the fact that God does deliver by the death of an innocent substitute, but no animal was ever satisfactory to God and so the sacrifices went on and on and on and on by the millions. And the people waited for a sacrifice that would be satisfactory to God, to which all those unsatisfactory sacrifices pointed. That day came on that Friday when God chose his lamb and offered him as a sacrifice, a substitute for sinners, and poured out his wrath on that innocent substitute. 

See quote source

Praise & Worship

Lamb of God

by Vertical Worship
Quote

God treated Jesus as if
he had personally committed
every sin ever committed
by every person who
would ever believe
though in reality
he committed none of them.

Quote

How Did Jesus Pay for Our Sins?

by John Gerstner 

This, then, is how Jesus made atonement – how he paid it all. The punishment which was due to us he voluntarily received. The death which was the wages of our sin he underwent. The stripes with which we deserved to be beaten fell upon his willing back. The chastisement which was owing us was borne by him. The price we would have paid by endless suffering he paid by an infinite sacrifice.

It should have been I who cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). It should have been he who said: “I am persuaded that nothing shall separate me from the love of God” (Romans 8:39). Because Jesus paid it all, it was he who was forsaken and we who never shall be. Because he drank the full cup of divine wrath, we shall never taste it. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). 

See quote source

Praise & Worship

Jesus Paid It All

by Fernando Ortega
Messages: 52 Min

Why Did Jesus Have to Die?

by John MacArthur

Hymns

Jerusalem

by CityAlight
Quote

Thus God himself
gave 
himself
to save us from himself.

Contemporary

Now Why This Fear

by Sovereign Grace Music
Article: 5 Min

Jesus Didn’t Die So He Could Love You

by Glen Scrivener at The Gospel Coalition

What's The Importance of Jesus’ Blood?

Praise & Worship

What Wondrous Love is This?

by Norton Hall Band
Verse
Psalm 49:7-9 ESV

Truly no man can ransom another, 
    or give to God the price of his life, 
for the ransom of their life is costly 
    and can never suffice, 
that he should live on forever 
    and never see the pit. 

Contemporary

Thank You Jesus for the Blood

by Charity Gayle
Image

God presented Christ
as a sacrifice of atonement,
through the shedding
of his blood—
to be received by faith.

Romans 3:25 NIV
Quote

Why Can't God Overlook Our Sin?

by John MacArthur

When God forgives, he cannot merely overlook sin. Full payment (atonement) must be made for our sin. Christs death made full atonement for those who trust Him. If we believe in him, His dying counts in our stead, paying for our sins in full. The Bible says, The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7). It is only through the blood of Christ that we can ever be cleansed from the terrible guilt of sin. 

Contemporary

That's How You Forgive

by Shane & Shane
Verse
1 Peter 1:18-19 NIV

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

Infographic

Nothing But the Blood

We have made a graphic so you can keep the classic hymn "Nothing But the Blood" on your phone as your background or screensaver!

Praise & Worship

By His Wounds (Isaiah 53)

by Mac Powell
Article: 10 Min

What Is the
Importance of
Jesus’ Blood?

by Bibles.net

Infographic

11 Things the Blood of Jesus Accomplishes for Believers

Feel free to save this graphic to your phone or share to social media! 

Verse
Hebrews 9:13-14 NLT

Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer could cleanse people’s bodies from ceremonial impurity. Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. 

Hymns

And Can It Be

by Aaron Keyes

QUOTES BY
C.H. Spurgeon

Quote

The Way of Escape

by Jim Elliff

Along with everybody on the face of the earth, you are constantly sinful. These thousands of sinful thoughts, words, and actions cause the perfectly holy God to judge you as deserving of hell.

But Christ’s death in the place of sinful people, as a true substitute, provides the way of escape. God pardons the one who comes to him because Jesus took the punishment in his place. In simple terms we may say that the just penalty for sins either falls on you or Christ. 

Article: 10 Min

The Offense of the Cross

by John MacArthur at Grace to You

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