The paradox found in the Gospels gets as quizzical as it possibly can in Matthew 17:21-23. God was going to save the world through the death of his Son. God, in his divine nature, doesn’t die. So how was God going to get this done? How was God going to be the Savior of the human race? He had to come to Earth as a human being to accomplish that task. And Jesus was the one to do it.
Jesus said in Matthew 20:28 that he “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” This is either the highest form of megalomania or it’s an example of somebody who really believes, as he said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). It was as if Jesus was saying, “I have the authority to speak for the Father; I have the power to act for the Father; if you reject me, you’ve rejected the Father.”
Even if you eliminated the Gospel of John and just read the Synoptic Gospels, this would still be the conclusion you would come to. And it is the conclusion that Jesus would have led us to if we had a Bible study and asked him this question. An astute Bible reader needs to ask, “Why is there no other first-century Jew who has millions of followers today? Why isn’t there a John the Baptist movement? Why, of all first-century figures, including the Roman emperors, is Jesus still worshiped today, while the others have crumbled into the dust of history?” It’s because this Jesus—the historical Jesus—is also the living Lord. He’s still around, while the others are long gone.
— Adapted from interview with Dr. Ben Witherington III
Taken from “Why Did Jesus Need to Die?” from the NIV Case for Christ Study Bible by Zondervan (used by permission).