The reason Christ had to die was to earn our salvation. As sinners, we
deserve the penalty for sin, which is death (Romans 6:23). Because God
is holy and just, He demands a punishment for sin. A penalty must be
paid, and we aren’t capable of paying the penalty because we are
sinners. The only one who can offer an acceptable payment is Jesus,
because only He is without sin. The Bible clearly tells us it was love
that caused God to send Jesus to pay the penalty for our sin (1 John
The work that Christ did in his life and in his death to earn our
salvation is called the atonement. The death of Jesus by crucifixion
was the pivotal event that allowed sinful humankind to get back into a
right relationship with the holy, almighty God. The crucifixion of
Christ wasn’t a tragedy. It wasn’t a series of events gone out of
control. It was the divinely designed plan of God. Here is a list of
some of the fundamental accomplishments achieved by Christ’s death on
the cross. Each one is a vital part of God’s plan of salvation for
- Substitution. Christ died so that we don’t
have to. This is what Christianity is all about, and it required the
death of Christ on the cross (Romans 8:3-4).
- Propitiation. Christ’s
death on the cross turned God’s wrath away from us. Because God is so
holy, He hates sin and is radically opposed to it. As sinful beings,
that would place us as the objects of God’s wrath. But Christ’s death
on the cross appeased God’s wrath (Romans 3:25).
- Reconciliation. God
was alienated from humankind because of sin. That alienation was
removed when Christ died on the cross. Reconciliation between God and
humanity was made possible (Romans 5:10-11).
- Redemption. Before
Christ died on the cross, we were slaves to sin. We were in bondage. We
couldn’t escape sin’s snare. Think of it as if Satan had kidnapped you
and was holding you as a hostage. Your release was dependent upon
someone paying a ransom. That’s exactly what Christ did on the cross.
He paid the ransom to redeem you (literally, to purchase you back) from
slave market of sin. The ransom price was high. It cost Christ His life
(1 Peter 1:18-19).
- Destruction. Satan was
behind all of this sin stuff from the beginning. (Remember the serpent
in the Garden of Eden?) Not only did Christ’s death on the cross free
us from Satan’s bondage, it also demolished Satan in the process
- Perfection. In the Old
Testament times, the priest had to offer a sacrifice on behalf of the
people each year (in a ceremony referred to as “the Day of Atonement”).
When Christ died on the cross, His sacrifice was enough to cover the
sins of all people—past, present, and future (Hebrews 9:26-28).
Salvation comes from what Jesus did without any help from us. He did
everything that was necessary. There is nothing else required of us but
to accept what He did for us.
To God the cross says “enough” because God is satisfied. To
humankind the cross says “forgiven” because we are. To Satan the cross
says “shut up” because it puts God and us on the same side (Fred Sanders).