Why did Jesus die on the cross?
Jesus was given the death penalty because the Jewish elders claimed He mocked God. By His teachings and miracles Jesus indicated that He is the Son of God, who had come down from Heaven. According to the Law of Moses, a man who claims to be God is ‘heretics’ and should be sentenced to death.
However, only the Romans could administer and execute a sentence for death. Governor Pontius Pilate was not interested in the religious disputes among the Jewish leaders. Hence, Jesus was presented to him as someone who could raise the people in rebellion against the Caesar. Pilatus wasn’t convinced but eventually he gave in under pressure, and sentenced Jesus to be crucified.
Whoever reads about Jesus’ death and crucifixion in the Gospels, might wonder why someone so good and innocent had to die such a horrible death. Why didn’t God intervene and save Jesus? Why didn’t Jesus defend himself when wrongfully accused?
We find the answer from the book of Isaiah, chapter 53 – amazingly, this was written at least 500 years before Jesus’ death. As Christians we believe what this and many other verses in the Bible say: that all along this was God’s plan for salvation. Jesus died on the cross for our sins; God sent His only son to die and suffer so that we would not have to. He atoned for our sins.
"But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all."
(Isaiah 53:5-6 ESV)