Why Jesus Died for Us: The Crucifixion of Jesus

Shared on March 24, 2024

We know that Jesus was crucified and that Jesus died but do you know why? Jesus did not give His life for no reason. It was the will of God to give His only begotten Son to the world. Join Pastor McCrary in this week’s to learn about the reason why Jesus had to die. In this week’s lesson we will take a look at Jesus becoming the propitiation for all who believe.


In last week’s lesson, we focused on how Lazarus’ death was to the glory of God.  I said that anything that is done for the glory of God is done to reveal God’s love to us.  Jesus was given for the glory of God and He also died for the glory of God as well.  So, in our lesson this week, we are going to take a look at Jesus on the cross and why Jesus died for us.

At the Cross

Our lesson this week opens up at a place called Calvary (Luke 23:33).  In the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and John this place is recognized by its Greek name, Golgotha.  Jesus was set to be crucified at this place in humiliating fashion.

Jesus humiliated

Roman crucifixion was meant to be humiliating for those that went against the emperor.  Jesus was found, by Pilate, to not be a threat towards Rome at all.  Pilate was actually going to set Jesus free but the people, led by the religious leaders, were adamant that Jesus die (Luke 23:4-5, 13-24).

So, at Calvary, Jesus was set to be crucified between two thieves like a criminal.  Golgotha was a big hill so that those passing by would be able to look up the hill and see the crucifixion taking place.  Scripture shows us that an audience had even gathered around to watch the show (Luke 23:35).  

Some of those that were gathered cast lots while others sneered and mocked Jesus.  They said of Jesus, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Messiah (Christ).”  The soldiers also mocked Jesus by offering Him wine (Luke 23:36).  Honestly, the Roman soldiers mocking Jesus would be expected because that’s what they did during crucifixions.

To add to the humiliation of Jesus, an inscription was written to hang over the head of Christ (Luke 23:38).  The inscription read, “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS”.  This was actually an inscription that angered the religious leaders as they desired it to be changed since they felt it humiliated them (John 19:21-22).

A plea for forgiveness

While the people were busy humiliating Christ, we will see that one of the dying thieves decided to join in.  Scripture states that the thief blasphemed Jesus, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us (Luke 23:39).”  

What’s interesting about this moment is something that took place at the beginning of the crucifixion with the thieves.  Both Matthew and Mark’s gospels record that at the start, both of the thieves reviled (ridiculed) Jesus (Matt. 27:44; Mark 15:32).  However, after hanging on the cross with Jesus for three hours, one of the thieves stopped mocking Jesus.

You see, one of the thieves began to realize that something wasn’t quite right with the situation.  The thief recognized that Jesus was hanging in the place of Barabbas.  Then, this thief began to look at the matter on a spiritual level because he realized their fate and that he would be meeting the Lord.  So, he asked the other thief, “Do you not even fear God? (Luke 23:40).”

Whether this thief had ever heard the teachings of Jesus or witnessed the miracles is unknown.  However, as he hung there, he heard what the people were saying and I believed he was watching Jesus.  What was it that Jesus was doing while He was hanging on the cross?

  If we go back to Luke 23:34, we will see that Jesus said, “Father, forgive them.”  This was a prayer of Jesus that I believe could be heard and I think this thief heard Jesus say that.  This thief had a change of heart on the cross!  So, he asked Jesus, “remember me when You come into Your kingdom (Luke 23:42).”

While many will look at the cross as simply Jesus’ death, when I look at the cross I see love and forgiveness.  Let us remember what Jesus said to Nicodemus when He said God loved the world and gave His only begotten Son (John 3:16).  Jesus was not only in the place of Barabbas but He was in all of our places as well.

Jesus died on the cross to suffer the penalty of sins for us.  Through His suffering, He could say to the dying thief, “today you will be with Me in Paradise (Luke 23:43).”  Through His suffering, Jesus could see us and say to us, “today you will be with Me in Paradise.”  However, as we saw last week, one must have faith to join Him in paradise.

The death of Christ

From about the sixth hour (12pm) to the ninth hour (3pm), there was a change that took place at Calvary (Luke 23:44).  Scripture tells us that darkness was over all the earth (the land in that region).

What many of us often overlook about Jesus’ crucifixion is that this was not merely a physical death.  Man had judged Jesus, beat Jesus, made Him carry His cross to Calvary, hung Him on the cross, and humiliated Him.  These were the things that only man could do to Christ.

However, there was something spiritual at stake as well here and I do believe the darkness represented that.  Jesus was taking on the sins of the world as He hung on the cross.  Jesus proclaimed Himself as the light of the world (John 8:12).  However, that light was being corrupted by the darkness of sin.

Now, some of us may be curious as to whether or not there was an eclipse that took place.  Some of us may wonder what was behind the darkness.  Well, the darkness over the land lasted a lot longer than a solar eclipse typically does.  Total solar eclipses last less than 10 minutes.

It is likely that while the morning may have started out as a sunny morning, it became an overcast day by noon as the sun was darkened.  In fact, the weather started to get a bit stormy as the veil of the temple was torn in two (Luke 23:45).  The veil tearing in two can also represent the barrier between man and God being torn down.

It was in this moment that Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit (Luke 23:46).’”  Death typically comes with great struggle for one to breathe let alone be able to loudly shout as Jesus died.  As it is recorded in Matthew and John’s gospel, Jesus yielded (gave up/dismissed) His spirit (Matt. 27:50; John 19:30).

Jesus was in control.  In his gospel, John said that he heard Jesus say, “It is finished.”  The job that Jesus was manifested in this world to do had been completed.  After Jesus died, scripture speaks of a great earthquake that occurred along with the weather.  This caused a centurion to glorify God and say, “Certainly this was a righteous Man.”

Our Passover and Atonement Offering

When I teach or preach about the crucifixion of Jesus, I parallel His crucifixion to two occasions.  Jesus’ crucifixion parallels the Passover offering and the Day of Atonement offering.  

The Passover offering was killed by the children of Israel in Egypt.  The Passover offering was a young lamb that was without blemish (Ex. 12:5).  The blood of the lamb was taken and covered the doorposts of the children of Israel (Ex. 12:7).  This was a sign to God as He would pass by the blood covered doorpost while striking down Egypt (Ex. 12:23).

The parallel of the Passover with Jesus is that He is the Lamb of God.  Jesus was given to the world to minister the divine truth to the world.  Yet, at the same time, Jesus was given to die so that through His death the world could be saved.  His shed blood covers all of those who believe in Him so that God’s wrath will pass us by.

The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) occurred on only one day of the year for the children of Israel (Lev. 16).  On this day two goats were taken to be a sacrifice for the children of Israel.  One goat was slaughtered and presented to God where its blood was sprinkled for Israel.  The other goat had all the sins of Israel placed on it, as the scapegoat, and was taken away from the camp.

When Paul and John taught about Jesus dying for us, they said He was the propitiation for our sins.  In other words, Jesus was the atonement offering to atone for all the sins of the world.  Jesus gave His life once for all as a far greater sacrifice than the blood of bulls and goats (Heb. 10:1-13).

The reason why Jesus died for us was so that all people could have an opportunity at salvation.  As we saw in the winter quarter of lessons, Jesus died to bring a way of harmony between God and man (Col. 1:19-20).  Sadly, the sacrifice of Christ is one that is still mocked as those that mock will miss the reward of salvation.

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