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Why did Jesus have to Die

Years ago, a young agnostic visited a Bible study I led in my home just before Easter. After I taught about the Passover's connection to Easter I could tell she was puzzled so I encouraged her questions. She immediately asked me, "Why did Jesus have to die." Somehow I instantly knew what was behind her query. It had nothing to do with abstract theory or the fine points in theology. I had been urging my students to trust God with their lives. She sincerely doubted that He was trustworthy.

She was really asking this unspoken question: If God allowed His Only Son to be cruelly beaten and crucified, what will He do to me if I give Him my life? If you've seen THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST you can totally understand her reluctance to trust Him. She wondered if perhaps God were some sort of a celestial child abuser.

Her question is our question too, though few of us are so bold as to ask it. If I give my life to God, if I really trust Him now, this year, today, with the rest of my life, what will He do with it? Will I really be better off?  

To better understand the answer to this powerful and important question, let's take a closer look at Jesus' death and what was behind it. It's so very appropriate on Easter week.

Names in the Bible are very important. Even the names of places are significant. Bethlehem, where Jesus was born, means City of Bread. Jesus was later called the Bread of Life - our most necessary staple. Jerusalem means Foundation of Peace (shalom). How ironic, this city which has known so many wars, unless we realize that Jesus, the Prince of Peace, came to give us a peace not like the world offers. He gives us a far deeper peace, one that surpasses all human understanding.

Similarly Gethsemane, the garden where Jesus agonized over his decision to go to the cross, means literally Olive Press. Olives were pressed to extract their valuable oil. Oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit, the divine Presence that allowed Jesus to live a miraculous life; the divine life-force that enabled Him to live a sinless life, heal all diseases known to man, and even raise the dead back to life.

Now flash forward with me to the instant of Christ's death. Though I believe THE PASSION OF CHRIST is the most powerful film ever made, I was disappointed in its depiction of the scene at the temple at the very moment Jesus died. In the Bible, as soon as He dies, the veil of the temple, the huge curtain that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple, was torn open from top to bottom. This is enormously significant. Once a year, the High Priest went into the Holy of Holies to make atonement for the sins of God's people. No one else was ever allowed in there. It was the very place where God's Spirit dwelt on earth. The reason it was torn from top to bottom is because God Himself ripped it open. You see, when Jesus died, the fullness of God's Spirit, the Holy Presence that lived in Him, was immediately released to become available to us all. Jesus was the olive that was pressed at the crucifixion, releasing the precious oil of the Holy Spirit for each of us and for anyone else who desired to receive it.

He spoke of His body as God's temple. His death made it possible for ours to become that as well: a place where God could dwell. From that point on, the Holy Spirit was no longer confined to a building made with hands or to God's only Son. The Holy Spirit could now live within anyone who so welcomed Him.

This is why Jesus told His followers that the works He did and greater, we would be able to do (John 14:12). This is why the apostles could heal the sick. This is why God promised to heal all our diseases, body soul and spirit. It's why Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One.

As I've said before but it bears repeating again, His very name - Christ, which means Anointed One - references the power He received from God through the Holy Spirit. And by His own definition, this power was to heal our broken hearts, to liberate us from our bruises, and finally free us from our spiritual captivity to the sins and compulsions which would otherwise destroy us (Luke 4:18).  

At our healing retreats, we ask people to risk, not only to receive healing, but also to become a vessel to help others receive healing. And how God loves to heal the hurting. When God heals there's no doubt about it, people instantly know it.

At last week's retreat, one woman told me that as I felt led to gently touch her head during a healing session, she experienced a tingling warmth flow into her body. After sharing the excruciating pain of her terrible childhood, another person immediately felt her whole body being flooded with the Spirit's warm tingling presence. Time after time, both in my individual healing practice and at retreats, I've seen this happen. After the pain is fully resolved, the healing begins, gently imparted from one person to another. And when God heals a person, it truly changes him or her forever.

A good friend attended our last retreat and asked me to share this with you. She said,
"I was afraid to tamper with my emotions.   I was afraid to trust my powerful intuition.   To put it out there and risk in front of others was the challenge.   I felt deep connections to those in my healing group, but I didn't act at first.   What if I was wrong? Discovering that they wanted what I so deeply wanted to give them, but didn't, was a profound turning point for me.    By holding back, I was missing out, and consequently, so were they.   So there was no other choice but to speak what I felt was being delivered to me, and it was a win-win situation."

She did speak the words God gave her, and in doing so, people moved forward on their own healing journey. She also experienced much healing herself. In her own healing session, she said, "
All of the deep pains and trauma in my past merged.   Instead of five or six painful events, there was a convergence.   I felt an indescribable shift inside my heart and soul.   Clearly and cohesively I was able to realize what had been taken away from me when I was wounded.   I was able to proclaim out loud to God and to those present that I wanted it back.   It felt absolutely freeing to say it out loud and acknowledge it.   I will always be so grateful for the gifts this retreat has given me."

These were powerful healing encounters last week. But we may well ask, why was this so essential that Jesus defined His life mission as healing the broken hearted, liberating the bruised and setting the captives free? Why did Jesus say this was the very reason He became the Christ? Why was this so essential that He had to be squeezed on Cavalry's cross like an olive in the press to yield up the Holy Spirit?

The answer is simple.   All the law in the Bible is summed up in the command to love, and broken people can't love. Those who are bound by their own hurts can't risk loving either others or God. As I said in LIBERATING THE WOUNDED - SPIRITUAL HEALING MADE SIMPLE, "It's as hard for a man with a broken heart to love as it is for a man with a broken foot to run."

This brings us back to our original question. Can this God, the Father of Jesus the Christ, be trusted with your life? The New Testament offers us a resounding yes when it says, "He who spared not His own Son, but freely gave Him up for us, shall He not freely give us all good things?" I love my children. They are the last thing I would ever sacrifice for anyone. Yet that's precisely what our Heavenly Father did for us. Unlike the demonic pagan deities who required the sacrifice of the first born, God prohibited us from making such sacrifices to Him. Instead He made that supreme sacrifice for us.

Sometimes, when things don't go as I hoped, when I've been betrayed by Christian brothers and let down by Christian friends, when my deepest dreams to advance His Kingdom fail to materialize as I hoped, I wonder if it's all worth it. I wonder if I was right to give Him my life over 30 years ago. Then, fortunately, my temporary insanity dissolves and I realize this: surely, He alone can be trusted with my life. He takes our ugly brokenness, patiently and lovingly heals us, and makes something beautiful of each of our lives. In the process we get an abundant life, one filled with love, joy, meaning, and yes, even His blessed peace. And on top of that, the retirement benefits are terrific! Who else can do that? What other deity even said he could?



Ken Unger is President of and founder of, where you can learn more about him and his transformative ministry. click here ,
 "Ken's new book, The Ultimate Breakthrough, goes beyond self help to self healing. You can preview it at The Ultimate Breakthrough "
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