Jesus died for our sins

Divine Mercy, Jesus of Nazareth

Jesus died for our sins

The ultimate proof that Jesus loves us is his suffering and death on the cross, so that we might be redeemed from our sins. But why did he have to die so that we could be redeemed?

We have to start by acknowledging that we deserve to die in our sins. When we disobey God’s will we offend him – he who created us, he who gives us everything that is good. We offend him greatly. In Genesis we read that death came into the world because of Adam and Eve’s sin. When God discovered their sin he said to Adam:

“By the sweat of your face shall you get bread to eat, until you return to the ground from which you were taken; for you are dirt, and to dirt you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19)

There was nothing we could do on our own to repair our relationship with God and so one day be lifted up to eternal life. Only the death of the sinless Servant of the Lord could do that. Some six hundred years before the time of Jesus, Isaiah prophesied that he would redeem us, making clear the point that he died for our sins:

“But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins, upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed. We had all gone astray like sheep, each following his own way; but the Lord laid upon him the guilt of us all. Through his suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt he shall bear. And he shall take away the sins of many, and win pardon for their offenses.” (Isaiah 53: 5-6, 11-12)

The redemptive nature of the Cross was understood by the Apostles after Jesus rose from the dead. (They were rather clueless when the events were taking place.) In the early creed Paul relates in 1 Corinthians 15:3, he states specifically “that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures.” Peter likewise, in his first epistle, exhorts his readers, “you were ransomed from your futile conduct, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished lamb” (1 Peter 1:18-19).

Bible scholars Jeff Cavins and Sarah Christmyer explain how the story of Jesus and Barabbas demonstrates the redemptive nature of the Crucifixion. Pontius Pilate, who had a custom of releasing one prisoner each year, gave the crowd a choice to have Barabbas or Jesus released. Barabbas was a murderer and deserved to die. Jesus was sinless, the beloved Son of God. The crowd demanded that Barabbas be released and Jesus be crucified, and Pilate submitted to their request. Simply put, Barabbas deserved to die, but Jesus took his place.

Cavins sums up the point very eloquently: “I’m Barabbas. You’re Barabbas.”

Finally, St. Peter Chrysologus, a priest in fifth century Italy, expresses beautifully in one of his homilies the depth of Christ’s love revealed on the cross:

“Listen to the Lord’s appeal: … You may run away from me as the Lord, but why not run to me as your father? Perhaps you are filled with shame … Do not be afraid.

This cross inflicts a mortal injury, not on me, but on death. These nails no longer pain me, but only deepen your love for me. I do not cry out because of these wounds, but through them I draw you into my heart. My body was stretched on the cross as a symbol, not of how much I suffered, but of my all-embracing love. I count it no loss to shed my blood: it is the price I have paid for your ransom.  

Come, then, return to me and learn to know me as your father, who repays good for evil, love for injury, and boundless charity for piercing wounds.”

For further reading/viewing:

The Catechism of the Catholic Church discusses Christ’s Redemptive Death in God’s Plan of Salvation on pages 155-162 (paragraphs 599-623). You can read it here. Among other things, you’ll see how unoriginal this blog is, but I’m okay with that.

The video Bible study by Jeff Cavins and Sarah Christmyer is called “Unlocking the Mystery of the Bible” and is available here. It is particularly helpful for understanding the many linkages between the Old and New Testaments.

You can also find many good articles on Christian beliefs at 

Michael Haverkamp

Michael Haverkamp is a lifelong member of the Roman Catholic Church. He is grateful to his parents for raising him in the faith. He resides in Columbus, Ohio with his amazing wife and three sons. By day he is a (usually) mild-mannered grant writer.

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