There are many biblical reasons why Jesus died for us. For a good list of them, read John Piper’s book on it—you can read his ten reasons here. They are all great reasons and showcase the glory of God in it all.
With that being said, there are also some bad answers to the question Why did Jesus die for us? Among the popular ones is the notion that Jesus died for us because we were valuable. This can be easily construed to fit the man-centered narrative that many people believe.
There is a well-known video by Todd White, who is associated with the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), where he explicitly states that Jesus died because of how valuable we are. In the video, White proclaims that:
The value that was placed on my life was determined by the cost that was paid for me. You see, the cost isn’t just the revelation of my sin, it’s the revealing of my value. Something underneath that sin must have been of great value for Heaven to go bankrupt to get me back. So Jesus paid such a high price for me on that tree, and when I see that, I see my value…Jesus was put on that cross, God determined my value, because all of that was my value.
“Something underneath that sin must have been of great value for Heaven to go bankrupt to get me back,” White says. This is flat out wrong. You know what was underneath our sin? More sin.
How do we respond to what White says here? He doesn’t give much room for vagueness. We can’t really say, “Well, maybe he meant this.” He is very explicit in his point. So we must ask ourselves the question: What does he mean by value?
Are We Valuable?
There is a real sense in which we are valuable. There is not debating that. But we are not valuable in the sense that White exclaims. We are valuable in the sense that we are all created in the imago Dei—the image of God. Each and every single one of us—with no exceptions—has inherent dignity, worth, and value because we are God’s creation. It’s not because of us, but Him.
But White isn’t talking about our value as being made in the image of God. He is talking about some type of value that was a reason that Jesus died for us. To give the benefit of the doubt, maybe he is talking about our value as being made in the image of God. However, even if that’s so, it still doesn’t mean that is why Jesus died for us.
Where White goes wrong is thinking that Jesus’ payment is supposed to highlight our supposed value in relation to the atonement. The whole point of Christ’s payment was specifically for our sin. Jesus paid for our sin. Let me assure you, friend, that our sin does not reveal our value—it reveals our wickedness. Which is why Jesus had to die.
With all that being said, don’t get me wrong: there is a sense in which our “value” plays a part in Jesus dying for us. However, it’s not so much our value as it is God’s love for us (John 3:16). God loves us because He loves us. There’s no reason in ourselves for His love for us. We’ve done many things to make Him not love us, but He does nevertheless.
So Why Did Jesus Die?
Jesus did not die to reveal our value. He died to reveal God’s justice and mercy. His mercy was shown through His death in that the Father made way to Him through Christ; His justice was met in that His wrath was satisfied. He died to pay the penalty for our sins. He took on the full, unadulterated wrath of God that we deserved and died the death we should’ve die. Jesus died, ultimately, to bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18).
Again, there are other reasons for which Jesus came to die for us, but none of them are because how valuable we are. That is a man-centered approach to the gospel and must be abandoned. Jesus dying for us was for the glory of God. End of story.
Soli Deo Gloria