The way a person dies punctuates his or her life. Jesus' death is an exclamation point of profound love for us and unwavering obedience to the Father who sent him to win our salvation. He came to give us abundant life, the very life of God, and he accomplished this by freely surrendering his life for us.
In the Old Testament times, Jews offered their prized lambs at the Temple as sin offerings. Jesus’ death eliminated that need once and for all. Jesus’ death was a perfect sacrifice undertaken by the Lamb of God for our benefit. An early New Testament explanation is that Jesus’ death was a “ransom,” a “redemption” that defeated the powers of evil. Jesus Christ substituted for each of us, taking on our guilt, dying a death we deserve, in order to buy our freedom with his very person and eternal love. St. Paul knew the depths of this love when he wrote: You could hardly find anyone ready to die even for someone upright…So it is proof of God’s own love for us, that Christ died for us while we were still sinners (Rom. 5:7-8).
Jesus Christ died for all human beings. He took our sins to the cross and, as the New Adam, represented us to the Father. In his suffering and death, Jesus’ humanity became the free and perfect instrument of divine love, a self-surrendering gift of love on our behalf. It opened eternal life to us, a supreme gift that we sinners do not deserve. Anyone who reflects on Jesus’ death must be drawn to Jesus as the perfect human. He is the exemplar of love, the gracious Lord who gave all that we might live.