So he then handed Him over to them to be crucified. (John 19:16)
At Christmas, we remember and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and at Easter, we remember and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But why did Jesus have to die? Why was He crucified on a Roman cross, a most brutal form of execution reserved only for the worst criminals?
By every account, Jesus was a righteous man who never violated any Roman laws. Even the Roman Governor Pilate, who when pressured by the Jews to order His crucifixion, said to them, "Behold, I am bringing Him out to you so that you may know that I find no guilt in Him." (John 19:4) Nevertheless, Pilate handed Him over to them to be crucified. Jesus was crucified between two convicted criminals who rightly deserved their punishment. An inscription was placed on the cross above each man's head telling of their crimes. Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It was written "JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS." (John 19:19) So, officially, Jesus was crucified because He was the King of the Jews.
Sin and its penalty
For the wages of sin is death... (Romans 6:23) Of course the real reason Jesus had to die has nothing to do with violating either Roman or Jewish laws. Jesus willingly gave His life to pay the penalty for our sin. A Sin is defined by doing or saying anything that violates God's word, His commandments or His sovereign will. If you ever told a lie, stole a piece of candy, were jealous or even just had a lustful thought in your heart, you have sinned against God. Some, of course, are greater sinners than others, but every one of us has sinned; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
The bible says that the penalty for sin, even the smallest sin, is death. Not just physical death (which is a consequence of our forefather Adam's original sin), but also eternal death, which is eternal separation from God in a literal place called the second death or hell. Each of us will someday stand before Jesus Christ and be judged; So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God. (Romans 14:12)
Most of those who have come to understand that they are guilty of sinning against God and that there is a severe penalty for their sins, try to compensate for their sins by doing more good works that they hope will please God and gain His ultimate forgiveness. These good works include things like getting baptized or confirmed, attending church, and just trying to be a better person. These may be good things, but they don't provide for forgiveness of past sins or in any way change God's ultimate judgment and eternal penalty; But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God. (Romans 2:5)
Jesus died to pay the penalty for your sin
For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay." And again, "The Lord will judge His people." It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:30, 31) The bible is clear. Everyone is a sinner and therefore guilty and justly condemned, deserving God's wrath and punishment in hell. My sins are not justified or forgiven simply because of my other good works. If I am caught speeding while driving, the police officer will give me a ticket for speeding even though I have not broken any other laws. God's penalty for just one sin is eternal death in hell.
The gospel or "good news" is that the penalty for our sins has already been paid by Jesus Christ, the Son of God; For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16).
We can have forgiveness of sins and the righteousness of Jesus Christ by repenting of our sins and believing the gospel; That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9); For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.(Romans 3:28)
The reason Jesus had to die was to satisfy the righteousness of God; But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:21-24) His resurrection proves that God's righteousness has been fully satisfied.
How about you? Will you pay for your own sins by spending eternity in hell or, by faith, accept the gift of God's righteousness? Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)