Why did Jesus die? 1 Peter 3:18

Tomorrow we celebrate Good Friday, the day when Jesus Christ was crucified. Tonight we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, remembering Jesus’s death with bread and wine as He commanded us to do. Why did Jesus die? The First Letter of Peter explains the mystery of God’s plan of salvation to us.
1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. (NIV 2011)
Christ suffered. This is talking about all the events from Maundy Thursday to Good Friday, from Jesus’s betrayal and arrest and desertion, through his rigged trials. Christ suffered the mocking and beating and scourging to within an inch of His life. Christ suffered the crown of thorns. And then He suffered the agonies of crucifixion hanging on the cross for three hours with nails through his hands and his feet. Christ did indeed suffer. And then he died.
It is interesting that the Anglicised NIV translation in 2011 is based on ancient manuscripts which say “Christ suffered for sins.” The 1984 NIV we have used for 30 years preferred other manuscripts which read instead “Christ died for sins” and so does the Good News Bible. The meaning is essentially the same. Christ suffered and at the greatest depth of his suffering Christ died. In just 5 chapters Peter refers to Jesus suffering 7 times. And it is good for us to reflect on the fact that it was not only the actual moment of Christ’s death on the cross, but all of his suffering on our behalf, which bought us salvation. As we thought about last Sunday, those last 24 hours were the most important hours of Jesus’s life. Not His birth. Not his profound teaching. Not his amazing miracles. Not his wonderful example of loving and forgiving. But his suffering and his death.
John 12 23 … ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. … 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’
Jesus suffered and Jesus died and those were the events for which the whole of the Old Testament and the history of the Israelites were merely the preparation.
1 Peter 1 10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow.
Christ suffered and died. And he suffered and died once for sins.
This was not the pointless death of an innocent victim. This was not the inspiring death of a martyr. This was the atoning and redeeming death of a Saviour.
1 Peter 1 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
Jesus was indeed the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Christ suffered and died “once for sins”. Once and for all!
Bearing shame and scoffing rude. In my place condemned he stood.
Sealed my pardon with His blood. Hallelujah! What a saviour”
Amazing love, Oh what sacrifice, the Son of God given for me.
My debt He pays, and my death he dies, that I might live. That I might live!
1 Peter 2 23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24 ‘He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed.’
According the whole of the New Testament, here is the heart of the meaning of the cross. Christ’s suffering and death was taking away our sins, paying the price we should have paid, taking our punishment upon himself. He Himself bore OUR sins.
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous,
“The righteous” was Christ himself. Jesus did not deserve to die. He was perfect and holy and sinless.
1 Peter 1 you were redeemed … 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
Peter knew Jesus as well as anybody. He quotes Isaiah 53:9 and applies it to Jesus.
1 Peter 2 22 “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”
Sin is the cause of death. But Christ was without sin. He didn’t die because of his own sins but because of our sins.
The righteous for the unrighteous – that’s us.
1 Peter 1 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
We are the ones who needed saving. Saving from ourselves. Saving from our evil desires. Saving from our ignorance. Saving from our pride and rebellion which separate us from the Holy God.
The righteous died in the place of the unrighteous, to bring you to God.
1 Peter 2 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
1 Peter 5:4 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.
So Jesus’s death brings us back to God and to eternal life which death can never take away! Of course Peter is writing to Christians. Those who have been brought back to God, the sheep who were wandering away but have now been brought back into the fold by Jesus the Good Shepherd who laid down his life for his sheep. Ransomed! Healed! Restored! Forgiven! All by means of the suffering and death of our Saviour Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.

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