Why Did Jesus Have to Die: Atonement

Why Did Jesus Have to Die?  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Preached as part of a pulpit rotation in 2023: Miller's, Mt. Calvary, Christ United, and New Covenant


Lenten Sermon Series 2023

In the name of the Father, and of the +Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
What does it mean when we say “Jesus died for me”? Can you explain that to a non-Christian? It’s one of those things that gets under my skin…that we Christians throw around certain words that only get used within the walls of the church, and we really aren’t able to explain them. So we’re going to work on one of those words tonight. That word is ATONEMENT.
Within the founding documents of the Lutheran tradition, we have the statements of our faith, our doctrine and theology. One of those documents, the Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord, has this statement: “a poor sinner is justified before God (that is, he is absolved and declared utterly free from all his sins, and from the verdict of well deserved damnation, and is adopted as a child of God and an heir of eternal life) without any merit or worthiness on our part, and without any preceding, present, or subsequent works, by sheer grace, solely through the merit of the total obedience, the bitter passion, the death, and the resurrection of Christ, our Lord, whose obedience is reckoned to us as righteousness.” [Theodore G. Tappert, ed., The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959), 540–541.]
So we believe that the death of Christ was necessary…but why? That doesn’t really tell us. For that, we have to go back to the Old Testament reading. Leviticus has a large section that describes the different sacrifices that must be made, and why they must be made. The short section we read describes a sin offering: what you must do if you commit a sin - violate one of God’s commandments, statutes, or rules. There is a cost to sin, and the animal that is sacrificed is the cost.
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