I can’t understand why God required Jesus to die on the cross for our sins.
I can’t understand why God required Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. I know the reasons the Bible gives (to redeem us from sins and give us eternal life) what I don’t understand is why did God require such a brutal cruel act? How does this allow him to forgive? I don’t get it. Why couldn’t we just ask for forgiveness (as we still do anyway) and really mean it?
Your main question, regarding why forgiveness required such suffering on Jesus’ part, has to do with justice. I know what you mean when you say that you don’t think you could love a God that would choose to inflict such a punishment. But I think you would hate something worse - a God who didn’t believe in justice. Deep down, we actually want God to judge sin. We don’t want someone who will simply pass over the evil things that have been done on this purpose - someone who would treat Mother Teresa and Adolf Hitler
the same way. But part of the problem is the way we see rebellion against God, or what the Bible calls ‘sin’.
God is a perfect God. He is the very person we draw our knowledge of ‘right’ and ‘truth’ and ‘perfection’ from. When we reject him, and decide to live our own way, we do more than express our ‘individuality’. We reject ‘righteousness’. The word ‘sin’ actually means, ‘to miss the mark’; when we sin, we fail to live up to the high calling God has designed for human beings. Now, God is very fair on this. He doesn’t compare one form of rebellion against another, he will inquire at the end of time if we have rebelled. In that respect, a ‘white’ lie is as bad as a ‘murder’, because justice is not interested in how much you have disobeyed, simply whether you
have disobeyed or not. Seen that way, the Bible says every person, by rejecting God and choosing their own way, has fallen under the judgment of God (Romans 3:23).
That means there is a huge amount of sin out there to be dealt with. And the Bible says that since we have rejected God our Creator, the source of all life, we will have our decision confirmed and one day we will die and be cut off from the source of all life. Now do you begin to understand how serious a problem there is confronting every member of the human race? Even if we could stop rejecting God right now, how would we deal with the vast number of occasions on which we have already rejected God?
There is no sense asking God not to be who He is. He is perfect and just; he will not lie by either ignoring sin, or pretending it’s not as bad as it seems. He will act justly, and the punishment deserved is perfectly dreadful. But God is also the person from whom we learn everything we know about love. And because he must be just, but also desires to be loving, he has instigated a plan where he will take upon himself the sins of anyone who turns to him. He pays the price for our debt - and that’s what happened on the cross (Romans 5:6-11) - and he did this even when we were still rebelling against him. All of the suffering due to fall on us is concentrated on Jesus, God in the flesh, at one point in time. We adore God because, when there was no other way, he pursued the most costly path possible just so that we might have the chance to choose him for eternity.
For those accept that very serious sacrifice for their very serious rebellion, there is now no condemnation left, only life (Romans 8:1). But imagine the insensitivity of telling God the Father that he really didn’t need to put his own son to death? Is it a sacrifice he would have chosen to make if there was any other way? And consider how God is likely to respond to someone who rejects this way back into a safe and secure relationship with him, after it has cost him so much to open up?
There’s a good article on the site that might help you think through these issues some more:
Answers are kindly provided by our friends at Christianity.net.au