Why Did Jesus Have to Die?

Hebrews 9:15-28

Hope you’re not getting discouraged by amount of meat here in Hebrews. Remember what author did in chapter 5: got after his audience for being slow to catch on, still needing milk and not able to handle solid food, then went ahead and gave solid food anyway. Like good meal, good sermon provides balanced diet – something there for people of all spiritual ages and needs. Receive what you need, not what you like, rely on Holy Spirit for help to understand and apply.

Remember this: Jesus is the Best. He is superior in every respect – his priesthood, his sacrifice, his covenant. His inheritance is for sure the best, we get to share in it. Beginning of text declares he is Mediator of new covenant by means of death! Just as we look in both directions at Lord’s Table – “you show the Lord’s death till he come” – Jesus’ death looks in both directions, accomplishing significant things for both Old and New Covenants.

Few people until recently challenge birth of Jesus. More may challenge Mary’s virginity, etc.; after all, what enlightened person would believe in miracles, especially that kind? Jesus’ death, another story. Since morning of third day, controversy. Place where someone was buried turned up empty even though locked, sealed, guarded. That was embarassing! How to explain? Stolen body (Matt. 28:12-13), swoon theory, substitute felon (Sura 4:157ff).

But unless we turn Bible into Swiss cheese Jesus’ death, burial, resurrecction not just part of mix, are absolutely essential. Any religious system where that is missing – not Christianity. Person who denies death… cannot be considered Christian.

Read 1 Cor. 15:1-4

Just one of many references in Paul – take it away, no longer any point to his ministry, our belief, evangelism. Notice what he said was “of first importance” – not birth, life of example, miracles. Is his death, his burial showing he really died, his resurrection.

So… why did Jesus have to die? With God’s help, will try to answer question with emphasis in 3 different areas: why did Jesus have to die? why did Jesus have to die? why did Jesus have to die?

A. why did Jesus have to die? v.15-18

God rules even in context of covenant

we think of covenant like contract – initial offer, negotiations, finally arrive at something mutually agreeable, sign on the line

most of that has no bearing on biblical covenant – God didn’t make offer, simply said “here it is”; God initiated, defined conditions, no negotiating, no options, no escape clauses

is true regardless of covenant in view: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Christ – God dictated terms and conditions

but what has happened??

Adam – dominion, responsibility, blessing, warning – only part of the deal not leave tree alone, included all the rest

Noah – got off ark, repeat of first covenant, reaffirmed + rainbow; planted vineyard, made some wine, got drunk

Abraham – promise of offspring, of land, father of great nation, bless all families of earth; “she’s my sister”, Hagar…

Moses – incredible promises to Israel, statement upon statement of blessing for obedience; didn’t wait till ink was dry

don’t blame only the early guys, remember what Paul quoted from Psalms and Isaiah – Rom. 3:9-18

“all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin,as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;no one understands; no one seeks for God.All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”“Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps (cobras) is under their lips.”“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”“Their feet are swift to shed blood;in their paths are ruin and misery,and the way of peace they have not known.”,“There is no fear of God before their eyes.””

no jail-breaking allowed!

just recently, couple notorious jail-breaks: NY state, Mexico; can maybe get out of SuperMax with help, no getting out of sin and Satan’s prison even with help

everyone is a lifer, facing ultimate death penalty; no opportunity of parole, no hope of commuted sentence – President recently commuted sentences for number of prisoners, in effect saying they had served long enough sentence

only one hope for lifer in sin’s prison – a full pardon granted by one who has authority and power to make it effectual

“by means of death, for the redemption” – “he died to set them free” (v.15)

Isa. 61:1 “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;”

side note: Jesus died for OT believers as well; no separate plan of salvation for Jews

“set them free from the violations committed under the first covenant.” – not only looking forward to those included under terms of new covenant, met need of believers under old covenant

to answer question: why did Jesus have to die? covenant has been broken, God can’t just tear it up and forget it – consequences, curses of covenant must come to bear

B. why did Jesus have to die? v. 19-22

even Jesus asked question: Matt. 26:39-44 “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” …”My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” …”he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again.”

simplest answer to some of Bible-related “why’s” including this one – because God said so; God doesn’t always give all the reasons

here’s what he did say: you sin at the cost of your own life; sin is self-destructive – “the day you eat, you will die”; “wages of sin is death”

yet God is gracious: Lev. 17:11 “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.”

according to God’s design, where there is sin there must be a life forfeited to atone for that sin; God graciously accepts the life of a substitute

be clear on this: to give the blood, to shed blood in return for atonement doesn’t mean you gave a pint at the Red Cross; something or someone had to die – either animal sacrifice or human substitute

if God is just and righteous, penalty for sin had to be satisfied, corruption of sin had to be removed

“almost all things are purified with blood”

news item – little girl, poured bucket of paint over head, walked through house leaving footprints, handprints, drips, etc.

forgiving her for disobedience only one piece; still covered in paint! needs thorough cleansing just like we do from sin

“without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”

if God meant what he said, and wages of sin really is death, if he is just and willing to accept a substitute, that one must die

if is to be permanent solution, must be one that is acceptable to God since he took initiative in establishing covenant

fig leaves won’t cover any better than emperor’s new clothes – Adam and Eve tried their own solution, millions have ever since

is God who decides what is acceptable – he requires both a life for sin and clean clothes for acceptance; to satisfy his Father’s requirement meant Jesus couldn’t stop short of full sacrifice

C. why did Jesus have to die? v.23-28

paying your own debt of sin is dead end – give your life, then have no life; is all or nothing; if that’s your choice, God says Ok

God made man for life, not death; requires God’s intervention from beginning – remember what Adam and Eve tried to do

cover up, make excuses, blame game, God said “no, this is the way” – clothes of skin, something else had to give its life so Adam and Eve could be restored to fellowship

what about covenant that mankind has trashed: God is only one who can “restore” covenant – he did so with one that superseded first

Jer. 11:10 “They have turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, who refused to hear my words. They have gone after other gods to serve them. The house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant that I made with their fathers.”

true of more than Israel and Judah; all mankind has sinned against God – sin because we are sinners, not other way round

now, think back to Abraham, covenant God made with him, the ceremony when was formally inaugurated, what God showed consequences of broken covenant to be

read Gen. 15

And if you remember in Genesis 15, Abraham himself never walked between the pieces. Who walked between the pieces? The smoking oven and the flaming torch, which is a symbol of the presence of God. And when God went through those pieces, symbolically, He was promising that He would give His Son in the place of all who believe in Him. And the author of Hebrews is saying, “That’s why Jesus had to die. You broke the covenant; He died in your place.” Duncan

Jesus had to die as once-for-all sacrifice so he could serve as our High Priest and Mediator in heavenly sanctuary at Father’s right hand

there’s a problem – unrepentant sinners don’t believe they have a problem – “no one seeks for God” Rom. 3:11

thank God for the good news: listen to what God promises –

Eze. 34:11-16 “For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out.As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness.And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country.I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel.I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord GOD.I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.”

And don’t overlook final promise of our text: “to those who eagerly await him he will appear a second time, not to bear sin but to bring salvation.”


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