Why Did Jesus Have to Suffer?

Looking at the final hours of Jesus’ life before His crucifixion and death, we see the utter brutality and violence of man.  It raises the question, why did Jesus have to suffer?  Why would God allow His Son to be beaten and tortured so viciously before His death?  Why not just let Him die peacefully; why not make it quick with a beheading or a stone thrown to the temple?  Why not make it easy?

It is through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ that we really begin to comprehend the magnitude of both sin in our lives and God’s love for us.  Jesus was sent to live as a perfect human being, apart from sin.  Yet He was born with sinful flesh, subject to the pulls and temptations common to all of us.  Though He was tried and tempted in all points, He did not sin (Hebrews 4:15).

If Jesus was sent just to prove you could live a sinless life in the flesh, He would have accomplished His goal.  He could have just suffered some painless death and been given eternal life.  However, it was eternal life that He gave up so that He could give eternal life to people like you and me.

God the Father laid our sins upon Jesus through the beating he suffered (Isaiah 53).  In Israel, the practice of sacrificing innocent animals for one’s sins was part of the law.  When a person acknowledged his sin or trespass, he would bring a clean animal such as a lamb, bull or goat to be sacrificed on his behalf (Leviticus 4-5).  However, before offering the animal, the person would lay his hands on it and confess his sins, laying his sins upon the animal so that it could serve as a sacrifice to pay for his sins.

In the sacrifice of Jesus, men were not coming to confess their sins.  Rather, sinners were laying their sins upon Jesus by whipping, beating, bruising and piercing His body.  God’s truly unsearchable love for us is revealed in that Jesus’ was willing, and God the Father was willing, to allow our sins to be laid upon Him.  The Bible prophesied this event throughout the Old Testament.  One account in Isaiah records,

“Surely He has borne our sicknesses and carried our pains; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.  But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes [blows that cut into His flesh] we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:4-6).

The punches, the beating, the thorns in the head, the mocking, the spitting upon, the whipping and scourging, the rejection, the cries for His death and all the horror of His final hours were necessary to lay upon Him all our sins.  We see in this the violence of our own sins upon the life of one who was innocent.

It is easy to see the violence of sins such as murder or rape.  But the violence is just as real when it comes to the dishonoring God or our parents, lying, stealing, cheating, committing adultery or any other number of sins we commit in our lives.  Sin reeks violence upon the innocent.  It always will and always does.  The violence may not always be seen in the body, but it decimates the heart, spirit, mind, character and emotions of people just the same.  The beating and scourging of Jesus Christ represents the true nature and violence of all our sins.

Amazingly, not only do we see the true, violent nature of our sins through the torturing of Jesus, we see the amazing love of God in His willingness to bear our sins.  Though He was completely innocent and faithful to God and though He deserved no punishment, Jesus took the violence of our own sins upon Himself.  As the Apostle Paul writes, “Scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:7-8).

Jesus was beaten to take our sins upon Himself.  With every stroke of violence that was laid upon Him there is a reminder to us of the violent nature of our sin.  And with every stroke of violence there remains a constant reminder of His unfailing love for us.  By bearing our sins, He made it possible for us to be free from sin, guilt, shame and fear.  By taking upon Himself the violence of our sins, He freed us from the effects of sin which ultimately result in death (Romans 6:23).

Sacrifice comes with a price; it is never easy.  Bearing our sins came with a terrible price.  Yet knowing that “information” is not enough.  God sent His Son to die for us so that we could know real life, abundant life, eternal life.  Let us not waste such an effort, such an utter sacrifice made on our behalf and for our own good.  Jesus laid down His life and endured the cross for the joy set before Him of having you live a better life.  He died so that you could grow and prosper and become the person that God made you to be, free from fear and ungodliness and immersed in righteousness and goodness.

Why did Jesus have to suffer?  He had to suffer to make you whole.  He had to be broken down so you could be built up.  He had to be slain so you could have eternal life.  He took upon Himself all the devastating effects of sin with all its violence so that you could know the peace of forgiveness and the joy of salvation.  His sacrifice for you is proof of how truly valuable you are to Him.  It is a testimony to how much your Creator and your God really cares about you.  Embrace the gift of eternal life, know the healing and righteousness, the joy and peace found only in Him.  He suffered all just for you.

- Written by David Liesenfelt  Copyright © 2004