Out of all the questions I get, there is one that I rarely ever hear. People will argue about when Jesus is coming back, if tongues and prophecy are still active today, whether women should preach but this question is rarely, if ever discussed:
Why did Jesus die?
I think the reason we never ask this question is because we think we already know what the answer is. These typical answers are usually “so we don’t go to hell” or “because He loves us” and while those answers are true, they are not the root reason.
John 17 gives us some insight about why Jesus gave up His life for us:
Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. – John 17:23
As Jesus was praying and battling His choice to go to the cross, He prayed to the Father that we all would be with Him where He is. Forever.
It’s important to realize that Jesus’ prayers doesn’t (and will never) compromise His standards or commands. There was no compromise in His prayer. He didn’t pray “Father, just put whoever or everyone on earth up there so they can see Me.” No. Jesus specifically asked for all His disciples, both present and future to be with Him forever. His prayer was for those who obeyed Him, loved Him, faithfully stayed with Him and followed Him to be allowed to love and be with Him forever.
Jesus died so that lovers could love Him forever.
For Jesus, salvation is not some benefit you sign up for or opt out of. Salvation is directly tied to love. Salvation is a benefit of love, not something ordered a la carte. Psalm 91 states this clearly:
“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” – Psalm 91:14-1
God doesn’t need love, but He longs for it. Love is at the very core of who He is and therefore love is at the very core of His relationship with us…and likewise our relationship with Him.
In the New Testament, the gospel was preached for people to know God and love Him, not so that people would have a “get out of hell” free pass, yet this is what the gospel has been reduced to in these days in the Western church. We expect all the benefits and blessings of salvation without any of the devotion or faithfulness that it comes from.
It’s time we return to the gospel. We’re saved to love. Salvation is a person. His name is Jesus Christ. Let’s love our Salvation.
Endnote: I should mention that John Piper wrote an excellent book detailing many other reasons Jesus came to die and the many things it accomplished. He offers it as a free download on his website. You can download it here. I highly recommend this book.