But Why Should He Die?

Why should we have Good Friday? Why should Christ die?

The formulaic answer is that He died to take away the sins of the world.  This year, during Lent and particularly these recent days, I try to answer this question.  And today I realized (again, through the homily – may the Lord bless RA!) that if the formulaic answer seemed insufficient to me, it is not because it is insufficient, but because I do not understand it sufficiently.

For prior to accepting that answer, one must grasp that there is One God, that we are creatures, and that there is such a thing as sin.  Perhaps it would be easier if I were a Jew (not that it would be easier to accept Jesus as Christ, of course, but perhaps easier to understand the notion of sin — after all, their culture seems to be linked closely to the concept of sin and atonement).  I readily admit that I seldom see myself as a sinful creature.  More often than not, I see myself as a good product of creation.  With such perception, how can I see my sins? And if one does not see one’s sins, how can he / she long to be redeemed? And if one does not long to be redeemed, how can he / she understand (let alone appreciate!) the Cross?

(I wonder whether my question is more or less a side effect of living in a highly secularized culture – I did not recall having such questions when I lived in my home country.  On a more positive note, perhaps it is a sign that I begin to think more sincerely and more seriously about my faith).

Another way to formulate the answer to the titular question is that Christ is the second Adam, as highlighted in the readings for the 1st Sunday of Lent.  Men are created beings who should obey the Creator and should not claim complete independence, but Adam1 chose disobedience and desired complete independence.  Later on, St Paul stated that as death reigned over everyone as the consequence of one man’s fall, so will the obedience of one man cause everyone to reign in life.  It is as the new head of the human race, the great image in which God remakes His creation, that Christ is mankind’s saviour.  I find this answer easier to relate to (does this have anything to do with reading Tolkien and MacDonald?).

To return to the previous mention of John’s Gospel, when presenting the scourged Jesus to the crowds, Pilate said: “Behold the Man”.  This phrase is seen to be related with the above explanation.  He is the Man, the new head of the race of Men.

1 whether you take him as a literal person or as a symbolic figure, the statement remains true.


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