|From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase|
There was no other way. As Dr. J. Sidlow Baxter puts it, "the very safety of the universe" depended upon it.
Commenting on John 1:29 ("Behold, the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world"), Dr. J. Sidlow Baxter writes this:
But why was it necessary that the Prince of Glory should become that Lamb of sacrifice, and undergo the fearful ordeal of Calvary? Was there no other way?
Well, if the Bible is truly the Word of God, and if our Lord Jesus is truly the incarnate Son of God, then according to their clear teaching there certainly was no other way. The Cross was a necessity if man was to be saved. We are not merely arguing in a circle when we say that the very fact of its being divinely ordained proves its necessity. God would never have indulged the prodigal agony of that awful Cross as a theatrical superfluity, to display a love which was not needed redemptively. If damnation were not a reality then redemption would not have been a necessity. But death and judgment and Gehenna are fearsome realities; and only the vicarious agonies of Gethsemane, Gabbatha, and Golgotha could achieve rescue.
Those paltry thinkers who glibly aver that God could easily have forgiven men's sins if He wanted, without any need for the Cross, know not whereof they affirm. They do not adequately estimate either the holiness of God or the sinfulness of man.
It is inconceivable that the all-holy God should govern His universe with even the slightest moral laxity. If the principles of absolute righteousness were not strictly upheld, there could be no true heaven; the universe would become a moral chaos, if not an inferno. The very safety of the universe depends upon the inflexible righteousness of the divine administration. Sin, whether in Satan and his angel-confederates, or in the human race, is not only moral leprosy, it is ugly enmity against Him who is pure light and love.
If God is to save man, it must be in a way which is in harmony with the divine holiness and which honours the necessities of the divine government. It must be in a way which demonstrates to an onlooking universe the awful sacredness with which God Himself looks upon His holy law. It must be in a way which shows God's hatred of sin; and nowhere else was there ever such a revelation of divine wrath against sin as on Calvary. One has only to ponder carefully these and other aspects of the case to see how necessary was the Cross of Christ if God was to save us. It was not [merely] that God "required blood" (as we heard one preacher vulgarly say), but that sin necessitated an infinite substitutionary expiation if man was to be saved according to the principles of eternal righteousness. And who could make that infinite expiation but the infinite God Himself? No less a marvel was required than that a member of the divine Triunity should assume our manhood, live our life, conquer our foe, and yield Himself an atoning Substitute to "take away the sin of the world".
This the Son of God actually did. There was no binding incumbency that He should do so. He did it of purest love for us. "God so loved the world that He gave..." [John 3:16]. "The Son of God loved me, and gave Himself for me" [Galatians 2:20]. "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world" [John 1:29]. Thank God, He bore it "away"! Once for all, and One for all, with an eternal finality!
"Why the Cross?" from Awake, My Heart: Daily Devotional Studies for the Year, by J. Sidlow Baxter (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1994), reading for March 23, page 91. This book is available in TTW's online store.