How did Jesus dying save us all?


#1

I understand that Jesus died for our sins. God sent his only son to take our punishment for us.

My question is this:

If God is good and merciful, why did anybody have to die at all? Why did Jesus have to be punished? Why didn’t God just forgive us?

I’ve never fully understood this.


#2

Jesus didn’t “have to be punished” - in the sense that there was no other way that God could have saved us. We don’t know why God chose that particular way, but He did.

One Scripture passage that has stood out for me as indicating one of reasons why He may have chosen that way:
John 15:12 "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 15:13 Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve believed the serpent - thus doubting God’s love for them. In Jesus, God visibly demonstrates the truth and greatness of His love for His creatures in the highest degree possible - by laying down His life for us.

Nita


#3

When you have any fundamental question about the faith, it’s always beneficial to check the Summa Theologica. St. Thomas Aquinas answers your question here:

newadvent.org/summa/4046.htm


#4

Thanks for the link. I’m afraid I am finding the article quite difficult to understand!


#5

There are several previous threads on this topic that may offer some more insights:

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=117336

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=87622

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=43599

Here’s an article that might also be helpful:

Did Christ have to Suffer? by Paul Thigpen


#6

There is a spiritual penalty for all sin. A real tangible debt that must be repaid. We are able to repay it if we choose. It only costs us an eternity of separation from God. Or we can allow the suffering of Christ to atone for those sins (pay the debt.)

Justice will be served, God cannot circumvent that, it is against his nature.


#7

Laudatur Iesus Christus.

Briefly put: God only created things that would be pleasing to Christ. Since Christ’s nature is love for the Father, freewill, a necessary element of love, had to be included in creation. Without this, creation could not be a pleasing gift to Christ. With it, Christ is able to praise and love His father through creation, as well as perfectly and eternally in the Holy Spirit. If Adam had acted in obedience, all of physical creation, through Adam’s cooperation, would have remained a free expression of love between the Father and the Son.

However, man sinned in that he separated his will from God’s through disobedience. This disrupted creation and directly resulted in suffering and death. These consequences of sin were repugnant to God. They served no role in divine love or in God’s will for creation. Suffering and death soiled and spoiled creation, frustrating its purpose as an expression of divine love.

God could not ignore these consequences of man’s free choice, because that would be disrespectful to man in a way inconsistent with God’s love (His nature), which respects the choices of His free creatures.

Hence, the world was fallen. It was repugnant to God, who’s love would neither allow Him to accept the results of sin nor to wipe them away in violation of man’s free choice.

Jesus came to earth to suffer and die, as an act of pure love for God the Father. Through this act, the Son changed the meaning of suffering and death (not of sin itself, which is irreconcilable with God’s will, but of sin’s consequences) into expressions of His love for God the Father. By suffering and dying, Jesus converted something that had been inconsistent with divine love into an act of divine love itself.

Thus, man, who could not be separated from the suffering and death that Adam’s sin had caused, was made acceptable to God by the very act of Jesus’ suffering and dying.

God made no arbitrary or cruel choice to impose needless suffering on His Son. Rather, the consequences of man’s choice could not simply be ignored or “forgiven” without man’s integrity and freedom being rendered meaningless. Hence, Christ’s suffering and death were the only means by which He could bring God and fallen man together.

We are saved precisely by Christ’s suffering and death. It is because of this conversion of the fruits of sin into grace that we can now be forgiven, once we renounce sin, and brought back into cooperation and union with God. Without Christ’s suffering, God’s forgiveness would be impossible.

I hope this is helpful.

Pax Christi nobiscum.

John Hiner


Christ died for our sins?
#8

I ask myself those same questions everyday.


#9

Hello John,

That was a wonderful explanation, it has whetted my appetite for more. Could you recommend any books etc. that explain the Catholic mysteries (especially the crucifixion/resurrection) in a similar manner?

Ṁany thanks,
Tomas.


#10

Jesus paid our massive debt for us out of love. He was the sacrificial lamb. He redeemed humankind by becoming one of us and being the unblemished lamb which was to be sacrificed to make up for our sins.

God, I presume, could have just forgiven us, but amends still have to be made - that’s why we’re still held responsible for our sins even though Jesus died on the cross. We don’t just “get forgiven”. We need to make up for all of our sins. Jesus’ crucifixion simply opened the doorway for us to be able to have that opportunity to make amends for our sins.

As far as never fully understanding this… Join the club. I guess that’s why they call it the Pascal MYSTERY. :slight_smile:


#11

1Pe 1:18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, [as] silver and gold, from your vain conversation [received] by tradition from your fathers;

1Pe 1:19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

1Pe 1:20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,

1Pe 1:21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.

1Pe 1:22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, [see that ye] love one another with a pure heart fervently:

1Pe 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.


Jhn 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Jhn 3:7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.


Nowhere in the ENTIRE Word of God does it say that you must join a religion and do religious stuff. The true Church is comprised of born again believers by the Word of God abiding in us. We are a “called out people” (i.e. church, ekklēsia) to assemble together.


#12

On the contrary, Jesus gathered His apostles and taught them the Gospel. The apostles did not learn the Gospel by reading scripture. They were taught the entire gospel directly by Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Jesus said He would build His Church upon the Peter and the apostles.
Jesus told the leaders of His Church to proclaim the Gospel to all nations, and “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16)

Notice that Jesus said salvation comes from believing the Gospel that the leaders of His Church would teach and preach. Jesus did NOT say salvation would come from reading the bible, studing the bible, believing the bible, believing the written Word of God, but only by believing the Gospel (the oral word of God) that the leaders of His Church taught and preached.
Thus, it is through the Church we find salvation. And Jesus said to the leaders of His Church, "he who rejects you, rejects me. So if we reject His Church, we reject Him. If we believe the Gospel the Church teaches, we will find salvation. And the Gospel the Church teaches we must obey God and repent of our sins before we die to enter heaven.


#13

Lynsey

There was a judge who while sitting on the bench one day saw as is son was brought before him to answer to the crime he committed. The Judge being a just and righteousness keeper of the law, fines his son the maximum penalty the law. The Judge then stood up, took off his robe, came down off the bench, and paid the fine.

To explain…The tree of Knowledge of good and evil existed for one purpose, to allow man to choose to reject. Without this option there is no free will, without free will, there is no love. God had to allow us to choose to eat from the tree, and because of that choice we had to suffer the consequences (death). Because He loved us so much, He did not let us go to our deaths, but rather provided way back to him through the blood on the cross. God is merciful. His blood took away all the sins of man past present and till the end of time. We have to receive that mercy by accepting of our own free will the sacrifice he made on the cross.

Lynsey my dear sister, it’s all about free will. It is more important to God that we have a choice, than the choice itself, because when we choose Him, it is pure love for our God.
This is actually a better plan, because unlike the garden, evil will eventually be cast away and we will be purified from knowledge of evil forever. That can not happen unless we choose to spend eternity with God. God doesn’t send anyone to hell for rejecting, God allows man to go there because they choose not to love God.


#14

I was reading this thread and yeah, I found the link to the Summa complicated and hard to follow. I think John’s post was helpful, as it led me to this thought that sprung to me -

God made us with freewill and we chose to bite the forbidden fruit. Maybe not us but Adam … but if it had been anyone of us … we’d have taken a bite too.

When that happened, we cut ourselves from God. But God wants us back with Him and God wants us to choose our way back to Him.

How do we go back to God? Well … there’s only one way … and we have to DIE to get back to God in the process.

So He sent His Son to show us how to get back to God. He HAD to die and RISE again to show us how to get back to Him.

That’s what sets Christianity apart from ANY other religion - God came down as Man to show us how to get back to Him.

He wants to make sure that if we really want to get back to Him, we must know exactly how to do that. He had to ensure that we had all the graces to get back to Him, that’s why He left us with a dynamic, Spirit led Church with teaching authority to tell us PRECISELY what we need and how to really FOLLOW Him to eternal life.

I’ve heard detractors say … “Jesus died? Yah but for how long? He’s God! What’s so hard to die when you know you’re going to be alive again?”

Exactly … He’s God. Why fear death when He showed us that He has conquered death and we will be alive again too?


#15

I think that perhaps the best answer to your first two questions is found in the quote that Nita kindly provided:

John 15: 12 "This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13 "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.

I’m not really sure about the whole God-having-to-‘pay’-for-the-salvation-of-our-souls-with-the-sacrifice-of-His-Son thing myself, so I can’t really answer your final question. But IMHO, perhaps it’s not that Jesus had to suffer so horribly, rather he chose to do so, thereby showing His insurmountable love for us. And as this quote tells us, no person could have greater love for you than one who would die for you. It is a symbol of just how much we are loved and cared for by our Lord Jesus Christ.

I imagine that if any random man went through that kind of suffering for you, you wouldn’t easily forget it. And you’d do your absolute best to carry out whatever wish he had for you. In this case Jesus did so, and it is now our responsibility to carry out His wishes as best we can. That is, to live as He taught us.

As I mentioned, your final question, “why didn’t God just forgive us?”, I find much harder to answer. I guess the fact of the matter is, God isn’t answerable to us. Not to mention, I’d say it is fairly naive to believe that we can understand much at all of what happens in ‘God’s world’ and why God chooses to do what he does. I know this doesn’t really help, but maybe someone else can answer (or maybe already has answered?) that question. :slight_smile:


#16

The meaning behind the crucifixion is to allow you to live on Earth without fear of dying.

The first necessity of life is SAFETY. If you fear for your life or fear death then there is no way you are going to enjoy anything.

The example of Jesus horrific death is to remind you that no matter how much you are suffering in life, God’s son suffered more.

The crucifix is to remind you that Jesus died for you so that you do not fear death.


#17

In simplest terms, the sin of Adam caused an eternal scar that could in no way be remedied by the temporal actions of man. An eternal remedy on behalf of temporal man could only be effected by One who is both temporal and eternal (Jesus’ human and divine natures). Thus, Jesus is the sole mediator between man and God. When we celebrate the Eucharist, we are re-presenting this event to the Father, as a reminder for us that it is only through the death of Jesus that our sins are worthy of forgiveness and we can cast off our estrangement from God. By receiving the body and blood of Christ, we are accepting, in Thanksgiving, this sacrifice, and receive untold grace.

Since the eternal cost of Adam’s sin was eternal death, only the death of One who is eternal and without sin could pay back that debt.


#18

I have read most of the answers and i think they are all wrong. here is the truth

when creation began ( the big bang) everything came from a small piece of matter so in a sense we are all connected, the human race is part of this connection with God… With thought or consciousness there is a well researched phenomena that once someone has a big idea or breakthrough and it is witnessed that thought or possibility becomes manifested in the collective consciousness of the whole human race.

so therefore what jesus was doing was showing us how God thinks, he was inserting into the human consciousness the acts of compassion and forgiveness. He died to show us even at our most persecuted we can offer forgiveness to the very people killing us, now that is GOd consciousness and that is what dying on the cross is about, to find peace even in acts of evil.

this is the truth, when we witness such awesome acts it inspires and shines a light into what is possible

and I believe it was Gandhi who said become the change that you want to see in the world

I hope this helps


#19

** I have read most of the answers and i think they are all wrong. here is the truth

when creation began ( the big bang) everything came from a small piece of matter so in a sense we are all connected, the human race is part of this connection with God… With thought or consciousness there is a well researched phenomena that once someone has a big idea or breakthrough and it is witnessed that thought or possibility becomes manifested in the collective consciousness of the whole human race.

so therefore what jesus was doing was showing us how God thinks, he was inserting into the human consciousness the acts of compassion and forgiveness. He died to show us even at our most persecuted we can offer forgiveness to the very people killing us, now that is GOd consciousness and that is what dying on the cross is about, to find peace even in acts of evil.

this is the truth, when we witness such awesome acts it inspires and shines a light into what is possible

and I believe it was Gandhi who said become the change that you want to see in the world

I hope this helps
Edit/Delete Message**


#20

Laudetur Iesus Christus.

Dear Aaron Levi:

What made Jesus special then? Why would the first selfless death, for the protection of others or the good of the many not have saved us? Surely mothers died for their children, soldiers died for their people, and Socrates died for the good itself, before Jesus suffered and died. Why did those others not redeem the world?

Spiritus Sapientiae nobiscum.

John Hiner


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