Why did Jesus come and die?
This is a question that if you are reading a post like this, you probably already know the answer: Jesus came to pay the penalty for our sins on the cross. In an ultimate sense, you would be absolutely correct, but there is more that Jesus did than that. What I would like to explore over the next few days is what other reasons are there for Christ to come, live on this earth, and die on the cross. We will certainly cover that aspect as that is culmination of His work at His first visit, but I want to show you over the next few days the absolute comprehensiveness of Jesus’ work on Earth and what that means for us.
It should be noted that we are only addressing 7 reasons why Jesus came, but John Piper came up with 50! If you would like to read that book, you can download it from his website for free: https://www.desiringgod.org/books/fifty-reasons-why-jesus-came-to-die Jesus’ arrival here was comprehensive!
The reasons I want to cover are:
Let's begin with the first reason:
To perform every precept of God.
Let me ask you a question. If Jesus were to descend from heaven as a fully grown adult, immediately die on the cross, be buried for three days, resurrected, and then ascend into heaven, would that be enough for our salvation? Try to think it through for a minute with me before reading the answer. Jesus would be fully paying off the sin debt that you owe. All of your sins would be gone if Jesus were to simply come down, die, resurrect, and go back into heaven.
So why didn’t He do it that way?
Ready for the answer?
You still wouldn’t qualify for heaven. Even if all of your sins were paid for, you still wouldn’t be able to enter into the heavenly gates. The reason is heaven is not for people who just haven’t sinned, it is for people who also did all the good things that they were called to do (Matt 5:48). You aren’t just told to avoid lying to your neighbor (Ex. 20:16), you are also called to speak truth to your neighbor (Zech. 8:16 and Eph. 4:25). You don’t pass the test by just not stealing things, although it is true you shouldn’t steal (Ex. 20:15). You need to also be generous to those who are in need (Eph. 4:28).
This is one of the many reasons Jesus came to Earth to be born and live a fully human life. He was the perfect version of us at every stage of life. Jesus was the perfect toddler and adult (Luke 2:52)! He not only didn’t sin, but He also did everything right. He not only provided for us the payment for our sin debt, but also gives us all of His righteousness as well (1 Cor. 1:30; Romans 5:15-19).
What does this mean for you and me? Well, this should be a very comforting doctrine to you. It is not up to you to read your Bible enough in order to get into heaven. Jesus has taken care of that for you. You are not going to get booted from glory because you didn’t pray for at least 3 hours a day. Christ has done all of that for you and invites you to take His record not only of no sin but also all of His righteousness.
This is what theologians call the active and passive obedience of Christ. The passive obedience was Jesus voluntarily setting Himself down as a sacrifice for sin. The active obedience was Jesus going out every minute of every day living completely for the glory of God in every thought word and deed on your behalf.
Now, some might think, “Well, don’t tell people that, or they won’t live the lives that they should! Don’t you believe that faith without works is dead (James 2:20) or that without holiness no one shall see the Lord (Heb. 12:14)?” I can confidently say, “Yes, I absolutely believe those Bible verses, but here is why I am not worried to tell you about the active obedience of Christ. I am not worried because I trust in Jesus’ transforming work. He promises to make you a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17), one that desires to do good works out of a sense of love and gratitude rather than fear. So if you are truly united to Christ, He will make you new!
If you are united to Christ, you are no longer your own, but belong to Jesus. This carries comfort and calling to you. You are securely brought to heaven by Jesus’ work alone, and this fact calls you to a different life, a life that is lived out of love to your Savior. This concept is beautifully illustrated in our song for today based off of the answer to the first question of the Heidelberg Catechism.