Jesus Christ Died for Our Salvation

Author: Fr. William G. Most

Betrayed into the hands of his enemies by one of His own apostles, Jesus Christ was mocked, spat upon, scourged, crowned with thorns, sentenced to death by crucifixion, and made to carry His own cross to the place of execution. Then He was stripped, fastened to the cross by nails through His wrists and feet, and left to die by asphyxiation. All this He endured willingly for our salvation.

When Jesus died, His body and soul were separated, for that is what death means. They remained separated until the Resurrection, but His divinity remained united to both His body and His soul.

How did His death produce the effect of Redemption? Sinners had, as it were, taken from one pan of a two-pan scales--an image to represent the moral order--what they had no right to take. The Holiness of the Father, loving all that is morally right, wanted the scales of the moral order righted, wanted the debt to be paid. Further, the imbalance was infinite, so that only a divine Person incarnate could rectify it, by giving up satisfactions He could have lawfully had, and by suffering things He did not owe, with the intention of repairing the damage done to the moral order by sin. It was Christ's obedience to the Father, of infinite moral worth, which gave value to his suffering.

Pope Paul VI wrote (Constitution on Indulgences, Jan 9, 1967): "It is necessary ... for the full remission and ... reparation of sins, not only that friendship with God be reestablished... and amends be made for the offense against His wisdom and goodness, but also that all the personal as well as social values, and those of the universal order, diminished or destroyed by sin, be fully restored, ... through voluntary reparation.... Indeed Christ, 'who committed no sin,' suffered for us, 'was wounded for our iniquities, bruised for our sins.... by His bruises we are healed.' Thus there was established, as it were, a treasury of 'the infinite and inexhaustible value which the expiation and the merits of Christ our Lord have before God.'"

He willed to suffer so much also "to draw all things to Himself" (John 12:32) by proving (cf. Romans 5:8) the immense love of His Heart, which went to such lengths to make eternal happiness open to all.

Further, since as St. Paul tells us (cf. Romans 8:17), we are saved and sanctified to the extent that we are not only members of Christ, but are like Him, therefore we too must share in this work of reparation. Jesus wanted to draw us to imitate Him in His work of satisfaction.

So that we might join with Him, He commanded "Do this in memory of me." So it is precisely in the Mass that we bring our offering of whatever obedience to the Father we have carried out since the last Mass, and we present too our penance of reparation, to be joined with the obedience and reparation of Jesus and His Mother at the double consecration of bread and wine, when He Himself, using a human priest to carry out the same dramatic sign He used in the Upper Room, presents again His willingness to obey the Father, to make reparation for sin.

Taken from The Basic Catholic Catechism
PART THREE: The Apostles' Creed II - V
Fourth Article: "He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried"

By Rev. William G. Most. (c)Copyright 1990 by William G. Most

Related Q and A

90. What is meant by the Redemption?

By the Redemption is meant that Jesus Christ, as the Redeemer of the whole human race, offered His sufferings and death to God as a fitting sacrifice in satisfaction for the sins of men, and regained for them the right to be children of God and heirs of heaven.(See question 358)

(a) Satisfaction is compensation for an offense or injury against another.

(b) A redeemer is one who pays a price to regain something that has been lost or given up.

(c) No creature could, of himself, make adequate satisfaction for sin, which offends the infinite majesty of God. Every creature is finite and, as such, is unable to make infinite satisfaction.

(d) Although God wished all to be saved, and although Christ died for all, yet only those to whom the merits of His Passion are applied will benefit by His death

(e) The death of Christ was a sacrifice of infinite merit and satisfaction, by which man was redeemed.

(f) Christ was both priest and victim in the sacrifice whereby He redeemed us. AS priest He offered His Passion and death to God for us, and as victim He suffered and died.

91. What were the chief sufferings of Christ?

The chief sufferings of Christ Were His bitter agony of soul, His bloody sweat, His cruel scourging, His crowning with thorns, His crucifixion, and His death on the cross.

(a) The Stations of the Cross and the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary call to mind the chief sufferings of Christ.

(b) Christ suffered and died in His human nature; in His divine nature He could neither suffer nor die. All of His sufferings, even the least, were of infinite value because His human and divine natures were united in the divine Person of the Son of God.

92. When did Christ die?

Christ died on Good Friday.

93. Where did Christ die?

Christ died on Golgotha, a place outside the city of Jerusalem.

(a) The site of Christ's death is also called the Place of the Skull, and Mount Calvary.

94. What do we learn from the sufferings and death of Christ?

From the sufferings and death of Christ we learn God's love for man and the evil of sin, for which God, who is all-just, demands such great satisfaction.

(a) We also learn that we should return God's great love and willingly take up our cross and follow Him.

Taken from The Baltimore Catechism, Lesson 8.