Why was it necessary for Christ, the Redeemer, to die?
Since death is the punishment for sin, Christ died willingly in our place to deliver us from the power and penalty of sin and bring us back to God. By his substitutionary atoning death, he alone redeems us from hell and gains for us forgiveness of sin, righteousness, and everlasting life.
Christ died willingly in our place to deliver us from the power and penalty of sin and bring us back to God.
And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him. (Colossians 1:21-22)
Christ lived a perfect life, the life you and I should have lived. He lived a life of love, of service. He lived an amazing life of trust in his heavenly Father. So the question is a pressing one. Why should one like that die? Why was it morally necessary? Well, he didn’t have to die for his own sake. If we were thinking just about Jesus, there would be no necessity for the cross. No, he died because he would be the Redeemer. It was his will, and also his heavenly Father’s will, to redeem us. It was his will to lay down his life, to sacrifice himself by dying on the cross in order to rescue us from the penalty that we deserved. You see, because God is good, he will punish sin. That wrong thing that you or I have done in secret—God knows about it. God’s real. He’s not just an idea. He’s not just a figment of our imagination. And this God is so thoroughly committed to what is good and right that every sin will be punished. And this is where Jesus comes in. Jesus determined to be our Redeemer. It was the will of his heavenly Father that he give himself as a sacrifice in substitution. That’s a word that’s often used—as a substitute, in the place of, instead of you and me. Jesus is our substitute if we repent of our sins, turn from them and trust in him. So why did the Redeemer need to die? Because that’s the only way you and I would live. (Taken from New City Catechism commentary by Mark Dever, available at http://newcitycatechism.com/new-city-catechism/#24)
Additional Scripture References
- Romans 8:3. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh.
- Hebrews 2:9. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
- Hebrews 2:14-15. Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.
- Read Scripture. Read one or two Scripture passages each day.
- Create a Flashcard. Write the question on one side of an index card and the answer on the other. Also write the Scripture reference on one side of another index card and the Scripture on the other side. Use these as flash cards throughout the week.
- Memorize the Question and Answer. Write the question and answer on a whiteboard or piece of paper. Each day erase three or four words and put blanks in their place. Read the question and answer replacing the blanks with the correct missing words.
- Read the Commentary. Available on the NCC website or App.
- Listen to a Song. Listen or read the lyrics to I Will Glorify in My Redeemer.
- Review Past Catechism Answers. Discuss how question 20-24 connect with each other. Discuss how all the previous questions lead us to think about and believe in the redeemer.
- What evidence do we have that Jesus died on the cross?
- Why is sin so serious that it must be punished by death?
- How can we pray and live to show our gratitude to God for providing a Redeemer?
All Scriptures: The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. 2001.
Standard Bible Society: Wheaton.