Why Did Jesus Have to Die?
I’ve always had a hard time understanding why Jesus had to die in order for us to be saved.
Father Jean C.J. d’Elbée addresses this question in ‘I Believe In Love.'
He writes that, according to St. Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologica, Christ’s ‘death was, in itself, not at all necessary, but He shows the benefits which the Passion procures for us beyond our reconciliation with God.’
One: Christ shows us how much He loves us, which urges us to love God back - thus perfecting our salvation.
Two: In submitting Himself to the Passion, Christ illustrated the virtues we need for our salvation, among them humility, constancy, justice and obedience.
Three: Christ’s Passion freed man from sin, which encourages us to avoid the occasion of sin.
Four: Christ endured great suffering, and can therefore assist those of us who are suffering. When we undergo pain, we know of Someone Else who did, too, even though He didn’t have to.
Father d’Elbée writes that, according to St. Thomas, ‘the death of Christ was not caused by sin, but by His love, on the occasion of our sin.’
Christ loves us so much, is so merciful and so desirous of our salvation, that He was prepared to do whatever it took to redeem and save us. ‘Jesus delivered Himself up out of love; God is love: the death of Jesus is the great revelation of that fact.’
Christ exhibited complete, 'crazy' love for us, because He deeply desires that we be united with Him in Heaven. I think such love is hard for us to comprehend because it's way beyond our limited, human understanding of the concept.
However, we are still capable of great love, and God desires that we offer it all to Him. He so wants to show us His mercy, but can only do this if we humbly respond to His love with our whole hearts.
(How) Are We Going to Respond?
Christ, a completely innocent man, suffered horribly and died an agonizing death for you and me.
It’s now up to us to show Christ how much we appreciate His sacrifice.