Why did Jesus have to die in order for our sins to be forgiven? If the president of the United States can pardon criminals and set them free simply by issuing an executive order, why couldn’t God have visited the earth as Jesus Christ and said, “Everyone on the planet has broken my laws, but I hereby offer a divine pardon to anyone who will receive it?”
Wouldn’t that have been easier? Why does there HAVE TO BE the shedding of blood in order for sins to be forgiven, as Hebrews 9:22 points out? It’s because God is not only a God of love; he is also a God of justice. In fact, while it might at first seem to be a loving thing to “let someone off the hook” for what they did, it is not the loving thing to do for the one who was wronged…and letting the transgressor “off the hook” might not be the loving thing to do in the long run if it merely enables that person to continue being irresponsible. More than that, sin unleashes terrible forces in our world.
Here’s the thing: Often our sense of justice is desensitized as we desire to show love and tolerance towards people we either care about or feel sorry for. Because God is a God of justice, however, he cannot allow sin to go unpunished. Sin is the cause of everything that goes wrong in our life and world—always has been and still is. While we tend to forget that, or we desire to look past it, God cannot nor will not. Why? Because he remembers what life was like before sin marred his creation, and God wants it back to how it used to be. It is what is best for everyone and everything. God cannot break a promise or violate his holy nature. From the moment of creation the law was established that disobedience would bring death and the soul that sinned would die.
The story is told about a teenage boy who was arrested for reckless driving. He had no fear of punishment, however, because his father was the only judge in the small community where he lived. But when the boy stood before the bench, his father pronounced: “Guilty as charged--$100 fine!”
The young man was dumbfounded. His own father had pronounced him guilty. Would his father imprison him since he didn’t have the resources to pay the fine? The judge then stepped off the bench, escorted the boy aside and said sternly, “Son, I cannot acquit you. That wouldn’t be justice and it wouldn’t be fair to others who have been penalized for similar traffic violations. However, I will pay the fine for you.” The father took a $100 bill out of his wallet and gave it to his son.
In Genesis 2:17 we read of God’s instructions to Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil otherwise they would die. God is holy, and he cannot exempt us from the penalty that was already declared law. Punishment for sin is just and deserved. But the heavenly Father stepped off his throne, came to earth, and paid the fine for us when Jesus died on the cross in our place. God chose to pay our fine through the death of Christ. “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18).
Working together to win together,