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Why did Christ die at Calvary?
The most wondrous of all God’s works is the work of redemption. When we attempt to contemplate what that work involved, we are lost in astonishment. When we think of the unutterable depths of shame and sorrow into which the Lord of glory entered to save us, we are awed and staggered.
“That the eternal Son of God should lay aside the robes of his ineffable glory and take upon him the form of a servant, that the Ruler of heaven and earth should be ‘made under the law’ (Galatians 4:4), that the Creator of the universe should tabernacle in this world and ‘have not where to lay his head’ (Matthew 8:20), is something which no finite mind can comprehend; but where carnal reason fails us, God-given faith believes and worships.” (A. W. Pink)
As we trace the path of our Savior from the throne of life to the tomb of death and behold him who was rich, for our sakes, becoming poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich, we cannot fathom the depths of the wonders before us. We know that every step in the path of our Redeemer’s humiliation was ordained in the eternal purpose of God. Yet, it was a path of immeasurable sorrow, unutterable anguish, ceaseless ignominy, bitter hatred, and relentless persecution; a path that brought the Beloved Son of God, the Darling of heaven, to suffer the painful, shameful death of the cross. Who could have imagined such things as these? Standing at the foot of the cross, I behold the Holy One nailed to the cursed tree, covered with his own blood and the spit of an enraged mob, made to be sin, forsaken and cursed of God his Father. Knowing that this is the work of God’s own hand, I am lost in astonishment. I am filled with reverence and awe (2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13).
Awed as I am with reverence for my crucified Lord, still there is a question that I cannot suppress, a question that reason and sound judgment cannot fail to ask. The question is, Why? — Why did the Son of God suffer such a death? Why did God so torment his beloved Son and kill him in such a horribly ignominious way?
Was it to save my soul? I know that he did so that I might live. He suffered, the Just for the unjust, that he might bring me to God. But was there no other way for the omnipotent God to save me?
Was all this done to demonstrate the greatness of God’s love to me? I know it was (Romans 5:8; 1 John 3:16; 4:9-10). But God could have revealed his love to me in some other way. Why did he slay his Son? What necessity was there for the Son of God to suffer and die upon the cursed tree?
Only one answer can be found to that question. — The justice of God had to be satisfied. There was no necessity for God to save anyone. Salvation is altogether the free gift of his grace. But, having determined to save his elect from the ruins of fallen humanity, the only way God could save his people and forgive their sins was by the death of Christ. — “Without shedding of blood is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22). The justice of God had to be satisfied in order for God to save his people. And the only thing that could ever satisfy the justice of God is the blood of Christ.