This a repeated byline on one cybernews site: "Did Jesus Die on Friday?"
Completely unimportant when looking at the big picture.
I have my opinions, ones that will be reserved for academic discussions. But this is not the question we need to be answering for the general public.
The question is not even, "Did Jesus Die?" The legal evidence, found not only in the Bible, but also in history books from that time show that it was common knowledge that Jesus of Nazareth was crucified at the time of Passover somewhere around 29 or 30, C.E. (that's CHRISTIAN ERA, not "Common," folks). So we know he died. We know how he died.
The question you must answer is, "Why did Jesus die?"
Paul answered it this way, when correcting some heresies that were prevalent in that great Grecian city of Corinth:
1 Now brothers, I want to clarify for you the gospel I proclaimed to you; you received it and have taken your stand on it. 2 You are also saved by it, if you hold to the message I proclaimed to you—unless you believed to no purpose. 3 For I passed on to you as most important what I also received:
that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, . . . (1 Corinthians 15, Holman Christian Standard Bible)
The most important thing Jesus Christ taught Paul in that Arabian desert was that Christ died for our SINS.
There are four important words that we need to be clear about here: "for," "sins," and "according to."
Jesus' death sentence was handed down from the highest court--that Heavenly Court where God sits as the Judge. Think of a prison. A new guy or gal arrives and his cellmates begin to ask, "What are you in FOR?" The newbie answers, "Robbery," or whatever it may be. It does not mean (we hope) so that he can learn to rob, but instead because he robbed. Why did Jesus die? It was because of our sins. Ours.
Your sins. My sins. The sins of the world.
Though the Jewish leaders wanted him put to death out of jealousy, and though the Roman court laid down the sentence, "King of the Jews," the Heavenly death sentence was the prevailing one. It was the true sentence.
You killed Jesus. So did I.
He suffered my death--the one that was hanging over my head, just waiting to be carried out.
God turned all his wrath, his hatred of sin, that sin that kept you separated from God, onto Jesus so that he could bring you back to himself.
All this was in keeping with all of what we call "The Old Testament." Those divine and innerant words prophesied that Jesus would suffer this kind of death. This is what "according to" means. It is in keeping with what was already said.
I fear too often we have begun to take "according to" to mean, "some say;" or, "some sources tell us." In the case of Jesus' death, it is all in keeping with what God said would happen, going all the way back to Genesis 3. Everything was planned, in other words. It was not accidental, as some lost and misguided God-thinkers have said. It was planned and carried out to buy your freedom.
Jesus died. He did it to take your place.
Accept what Jesus did for you. Embrace the cross.