The Reason Christ Died for Us
For more than 20 years, I believed a truth without understanding the reason. Christ died for me. But why? I remember going to the theatre to see The Passion of the Christ. I was there with about two dozen other Catholics who wanted to pay homage to our Lord Jesus Christ. I cried my eyes out seeing how my Lord and Savior died a cruel death. I always knew He died for me. But why?
I went to church every Sunday. I ate the communion wafer and drank the wine from the same chalice as the couple of hundred other people at the mass (which is pretty gross looking back). I was even a Catechist teacher and leader of a youth group. But I never understood why Christ died for me.
It wasn’t until I became older and started to study the Bible seriously at the World Mission Society Church of God that I finally understood. And recently, I heard a sermon about the Law of the City of Refuge that inspired this post. I encourage you to read it to its entirety, with patience, and understand the answer to this very important question: Why did Christ die for us?
The City of Refuge
The Old Testament is filled with laws. Most Christians disregard the majority of them because they don’t see them as necessary. But, if they were unnecessary for us today, God would’ve never allowed these laws to remain written in the Bible. One of those laws is about the City of Refuge.
Numbers 35:9-12 (NLT) The Lord said to Moses, “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel…designate cities of refuge to which people can flee if they have killed someone accidentally. These cities will be places of protection from a dead person’s relatives who want to avenge the death. The slayer must not be put to death before being tried by the community.”
According to the Old Testament law, the family of someone who had been killed had the right to murder the criminal. So God created cities of refuge so that any unintentional or accidental murderer could flee to and be protected. It was like a safe haven.
Numbers 23:25-28 (NLT) “The community must protect the slayer from the avenger and must escort the slayer back to live in the city of refuge to which he fled. There he must remain until the death of the high priest, who was anointed with the sacred oil. But if the slayer ever leaves the limits of the city of refuge, and the avenger finds him outside the city and kills him, it will not be considered murder. The slayer should have stayed inside the city of refuge until the death of the high priest. But after the death of the high priest, the slayer may return to his own property. These are legal requirements for you to observe from generation to generation, wherever you may live.”
The unintentional murderer cannot leave the city of refuge until after the death of the high priest. And not even a ransom or bail could be accepted instead of his sentence.
Numbers 35:32 (NLT) “And never accept a ransom payment from someone who has fled to a city of refuge, allowing a slayer to return to his property before the death of the high priest.”
No amount of money, no humanitarian work, nothing except the death of the high priest could allow the murderer to return to his land. The high priest was the most important person for the accidental murderer to have his freedom back. Keep this in mind as you continue reading.
Why is This Relevant?
You’re probably now wondering where I’m going with this.
Hebrews 10:1 (NLT) The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves.
The Bible says that the law of Moses (in this case, the law of the city of refuge) was only a shadow to understand the good things coming in the future. So what does this mean? The Old Testament lets us know prophecies that Jesus Christ is to fulfill when He comes. So what is the prophecy of the city of refuge about?
The Reality of the High Priest
The Bible prophesied that God Almighty would come and be anointed with the holy oil, just as the high priest in the city of refuge. And then He would put an end to sin.
Daniel 9:24 (NLT) “A period of seventy sets of seven has been decreed for your people and your holy city to finish their rebellion, to put an end to their sin, to atone for their guilt, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to confirm the prophetic vision, and to anoint the Most Holy One.
The high priest in the city of refuge is a shadow to allow us to understand the reality of our high priest. Jesus Christ is the Most Holy who came as our Savior to forgive our sins. He fulfilled this prophecy in Daniel by being anointed as high priest.
Hebrews 5:7-10 During the days of Jesus’ life on earth … he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.
And for further confirmation, Jesus Christ Himself said He had the authority to forgive our sins when He came as the high priest.
Mark 2:8-10 Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them….“But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.”
The high priest in the city of refuge in the Old Testament was a prophecy about Jesus Christ who would come as the high priest to forgive our sins. In turn, that makes this earth the city of refuge. And Jesus is our high priest.
Take a few minutes to watch this video to understand why this earth is the city of refuge.
According to the Bible, our spirit did not originate on this earth, but in the kingdom of heaven. We are only on this earth temporarily. Even the forefathers of faith testified to this fact.
Hebrews 11:13-16 They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland.
The forefathers of faith—Enoch, Noah, Abraham—recognized that they were not from this earth. Since our spirits are not from this earth, our true home is the kingdom of heaven and eventually we must go back. The only reason our spirit is on this earth, in the body, is because of the sins we committed in heaven. Jesus came to the earth as our high priest because this earth is the city of refuge for our souls. We are unintentional sinners who sinned against God in heaven and had to flee to the earth until the death of the high priest. Because of the death of the high priest, we can return to the kingdom of heaven.
Why Christ Died for Us
The unintentional criminals in the city of refuge could only return to their homes after the death of the high priest. Likewise, as sinners on earth, our spirit can only return to heaven after the death of Christ, our high priest.
1 Peter 1:18-19 (NLT) For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.
Ephesians 1:7 (NLT) He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.
Just by believing in the blood of Christ, we cannot have His blood and cannot be redeemed. As a Catholic growing up, I always proclaimed with my mouth that Christ died for me. And I always felt proud of it. But I was never really acknowledging it in the way that God asks me to. Once we receive the blood of Christ, we can have forgiveness, we acknowledge the death of the high priest – the death of Christ – and can therefore enter heaven. So how can we receive the blood of Christ? Is it through communion? Is it the eucharist? Or is it something else? What does the Bible say? Growing up, I thought I was receiving the blood of Christ by eating the communion wafer and drinking from the golden chalice. But I was wrong.
High Priest in the Order of Melchizedek
Jesus came as the high priest in the order of Melchizedek and this is an important factor in understanding how we receive the blood of Christ.
Hebrews 5:7-10 During the days of Jesus’ life on earth…he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.
The Bible could’ve said Jesus was high priest in the order of anyone else. Biblicists don’t even know much about Melchizedek. His name is only mentioned a handful of times throughout the Old and New testaments. Who is he and what is significant about him? Why did Jesus specifically come as a high priest in the order of Melchizedek?
Genesis 14:18 (NLT) And Melchizedek, the king of Salem and a priest of God Most High, brought Abram some bread and wine. Melchizedek blessed Abram with this blessing: “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth…”
In the Old Testament, blessings were requested from God and given to the people through animal sacrifice. But this particular priest blessed Abram with bread and wine. Why? Because, “The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow.” It was to let us know that Jesus Christ had to fulfill this. As a high priest in the order of Melchizedek, Jesus had to do things in the same order. He had to bless in the same way—with bread and wine.
Matthew 26:26-28 (NLT) As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.” And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many.”
Christ blessed His disciples with the forgiveness of sins with bread and wine. What were they celebrating here?
Matthew 26:17-19 (NLT) On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to prepare the Passover meal for you?”…Tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My time has come, and I will eat the Passover meal with my disciples at your house.’” So the disciples did as Jesus told them and prepared the Passover meal there.
We can have Christ’s blood through the Passover, which He established the night before His death. He clearly stated to His disciples that we receive the forgiveness of sins through the Passover. This is the way to acknowledge the death of our High Priest and return to our homeland heaven.
Luke 22:15 (NLT) Jesus said, “I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering begins.”
Knowing He was about to be imprisoned, mocked, beaten, tortured, and crucified, Jesus Christ eagerly wanted to celebrate the Passover with His disciples.
Remembering Christ’s Death
Luke 22:19 (NLT) “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.” …”This cup is the new covenant confirmed between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.”
Christ asked us to remember him by celebrating the Passover—this is how we can acknowledge His death for us. What if the high priest in the city of refuge were to die? Without knowing, the unintentional criminal could never leave. That’s why Christ said, “Do this [celebrate the Passover] to remember me.” Without celebrating the Passover, we’re like the unintentional criminal and we could never return to heaven.
So why does all of this matter? We constantly boast that Christ died for us. But if we do not celebrate the Passover, his death is in vain. When we celebrate the Passover, we proclaim Christ’s death; God can acknowledge us as the ones who have received forgiveness of sins; We can return to the kingdom of heaven. Apostle Paul continuously taught the early churches to celebrate the Passover, saying this is the only way we can proclaim and acknowledge Christ’s death (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).
“Christ died for me.” We cannot use these words loosely. As Christians, we must understand the reason and the correct way to acknowledge it before Christ Himself. Otherwise, we’re showing God his death for us was in vain. I encourage you to visit your nearest World Mission Society Church of God to understand more about this topic. And also understand how the Passover was abolished in history by the Roman Church and, to this day, they teach something completely different than what Christ taught us.