5 Reasons Jesus Christ Died

By pintswaquinas March 26, 2024

On Good Friday we commemorate the death of our Savior. Jesus, in the greatest act of love the world has ever known, freely chose to suffer and die for our salvation.

But Jesus is God, so did He have to die? Couldn’t He have found a less painful way to redeem the human race?

The answer is yes, but St. Thomas Aquinas gives us five reasons why it was fitting for Jesus Christ to die.

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1. “To satisfy for the whole human race, which was sentenced to die on account of sin.”
Adam and Eve brought death upon the human race when they disobeyed God. Aquinas quotes Genesis 2:17, where God warns the first couple not to eat of the forbidden fruit: “In what day soever ye shall eat of it, ye shall die the death.”

We also lost our original holiness and could never get that back on our own. Christ paid a debt He did not owe because the debt was too big for us to pay.

2. “To show the reality of the flesh assumed.”
Aquinas quotes the early Church Father Eusebius: “For, as Eusebius says…’if, after dwelling among men, Christ were suddenly to disappear from men’s sight, as though shunning death, then by all men He would be likened to a phantom.'”

Some early heresies taught that Christ’s body was only an illusion, not real flesh. Yet phantoms can’t suffer wounds to the flesh. Christ chose to identify with us even in our physical suffering and death.

3. “That by dying He might deliver us from fearing death.”
There are few things we fear as much as death. Religions and cultures have developed different ways to manage or conquer this terror.

If death truly was the end, or if we had no hope of eternal life, then this fear would be justified. But Christ destroyed death and opened the gates of heaven. Though this doesn’t remove all nervousness surrounding death, we know it’s not the end.

4. “That He might set us the example of dying to sin spiritually.”
Christ never sinned. However, Aquinas says that Christ died “in the body to the likeness of sin — that is, to its penalty.” In doing so, He inspires us to die to our sins so that we can enjoy the freedom of His grace.

5. “That He might instill into us the hope of rising from the dead.”
St. Thomas quotes St. Paul, who challenges the Corinthians: “If Christ be preached that He rose again from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection from the dead?”

If Christ can raise Himself from the dead, then it’s unreasonable to think He can’t raise us.

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.


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