“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 5:8. NIV.
There are many good, clear verses in Scripture which teach us that Jesus is God (John 1:1-3, Hebrews 1:1-4, etc.).
There is also the truth that Jesus is God, in fact, has to be God, because of God’s love.
The above verse in Romans says that God demonstrated His love for us by having Christ die for us.
To this we can add John 3:16-17, which says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
While God shows His love to humanity in many ways every day, Christ’s death for our sins was the primary way that God showed us His love. To see why this means that Jesus had to be God, let’s think about ways that one person can show love to another.
At the basic level is through words. One can say, “I love you.” That is nice, and depending on the length of the relationship, maybe a bit risky, but there is no cost or sacrifice involved. Three words said or penned (hopefully not texted if it’s for the first time) and that is all.
We know that merely saying words, without any action, doesn’t mean very much. When loving actions follow the words, then we see true love. And the greater the love, the greater one is willing to pay or sacrifice (as able) to show his or her love.
The first way of acting our ones love may be to buy a present for the beloved. This is doing more than just saying, “I love you.” While it’s not a huge sacrifice, it is a start.
After this, one may help someone without thought or expectation of repayment- a sacrifice of ones time.
We can go gradually up the ladder of sacrifice until we come to ones life. Surely, as we can understand love, there is no greater sacrifice than to give ones life for another. We can give of our time, money, and material possessions, all to various degrees. But the ultimate show of ones love is to give ones life.
This is why Jesus Christ had to be God.
God could say, “I love you.” to humanity and leave it there, but that would not mean a lot in and of itself.
God could also demonstrate His love through His blessings and fellowship, which are wonderful to be sure, but that would still fall short of the ultimate demonstration of His love.
Could God have sent an angel to die for the sins of humanity, or any other type of created being? Had He done so, this would have been a demonstration of His love, granted, but it would have been a detached love. Love at arms length. This would be a false representation of God’s love for humanity, because it would not be falling short of how much God really loves us.
This is why God Himself had to die for humanity. There would be no greater demonstration, no greater example of God’s love than for Him to truly become one of us, and die on our behalf.
While there is a mystery to God becoming a man and then dying, there is no mystery as to what this sacrifice says about God’s love for all people. We can all understand and appreciate the ultimate sacrifice of one person giving his life for another.
It is no accident that while the Bible talks about God’s blessings and goodness, how He answers our prayers and is always with us, when it comes to God’s love for humanity, only one example is given.
The death of Jesus Christ, God as a true human being.