We have been taught that the Word, who was with God from the beginning, had to become man to suffer and die to pay the penalty for our sins. This is what the Bible teaches, and it is true (Isaiah 53:5-6, 10-12).
But was there another way? Was it really necessary?
Considering that God made death the penalty for all human sin and that God determined that this penalty could not be compromised with but must be paid, yes, it was necessary.
But it was God who set the penalty and the rules for its application, and God is able to foresee all possible consequences of His decisions. He knew in advance that if he made death the penalty of human sin, that man would probably sin and this would require the death of His Son.
Yet knowing this, God made death (and suffering) the penalty of sin and determined not to compromise or make exceptions - the penalty would have to be paid. God made it this way, knowing the consequences for Himself and for the Word who was to become Jesus Christ whom God deeply loved, His companion for eternity (Zechariah 13:7, Matthew 26:31).
Could God have avoided the sacrifice of Christ? Could He have spared His Son from this experience and still saved mankind? Yes. All He had to do is not make death the penalty for sin. He could have set a lesser penalty, or simply allowed exceptions to be granted at His discretion to remove the penalty without it being paid.
But He didn't do it that way. Why? Why plan a salvation for mankind that required His Son to suffer and die if there was an easier way?
I don't think it was only God the Father that determined this. The Word must have agreed to this plan also. Why do I say this?
God commanded Christ what He was to teach (John 12:49-50). But I don't think the Father commanded Christ to suffer and die to pay the penalty for our sins. The Word, Christ, voluntarily agreed to be the sacrifice for our sins.
I think God's justice would not allow a penalty for sin to be transferred from a guilty party to an innocent party against the will of the innocent person. The penalty for sin is not something that could be forced on Christ agaist His will. I don't think God would command an innocent person to bear the penalty for someone else's guilt. But an innocent person can voluntarily agree to bear the penalty for someone else, and that is what I think the Word did.
So the Father and Christ were in perfect agreement about this. So again, why this plan for our salvation? Why not make it easier by NOT making death the penalty for all human sin, or by providing provision in God's law for Him to simply remove the penalty, at His discretion, without requiring it to be paid even by Christ?
The Bible doesn't elaborate on all of God's reasons for the way He is working things out for His purposes. So what I am about to say can be speculation. God does teach us in the Bible what His character and way of thinking is like.
So here is some food for thought.
God is building His character in us so we can be His children and can share in His divine nature, so He can trust us with His divine power to rule the universe, according to His will, forever. We have to become like God in our thinking. And for this purpose, God has to teach us lessons that will reside deep in our character forever.
There are two lessons we learn from the sacrifice of Christ: obedience to the law of God, and sacrificial love. Humility may be a lesson too. God so set His law and His plan for our salvation to require the sacrifice of Christ, not because there was no other way, but because it was the best way to teach us the lessons we need to learn.
There can be no compromise with God's law. That is lesson number one. Once we are in the Kingdom of God, we cannot sin, ever, not even a little, not even once, none of us, and we must voluntarily, willingly agree to that now in this life and demonstrate our agreement by striving with all our might to obey God and His law 100%, to put sin completely out of our lives, and to overcome our evil, sinful, lawless human nature. "Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:48).
Though we will not achieve perfection in this physical life, we are to strive for perfection, never being content with even a little sin in our lives, and God will then complete the process in the resurrection and make us perfect for eternity.
The sacrifice of Christ, by showing that God will not compromise with the penalty of sin by forgiving us without that penalty being paid, helps to impress on our minds how important God's law is to God and how important it must be to us if we are to become like God.
Secondly, the sacrifice of Christ teaches us the lesson of sacrificial love. Christ teaches us by His example (John 13:15, Luke 6:40, Matthew 10:24-25). We should love each other as Christ loved us and gave His life for us (John 13:34, 15:12-17, John 3:16, Romans 5:6-8). We should also love the Father as Jesus loved Him, seeking to do the Father's will in everything, for this is part of Christ's example (John 4:34, Luke 22:41-43). Christ did not just suffer and die for us because He loved us. He also did this because He loved the Father and knew it was the Father's will.
This is a love that goes beyond the letter of the law.
When we take the Passover symbols, indicating our acceptance of Christ's sacrifice as payment of the penalties for our sins, we must also accept that way of life that led Christ to be that sacrifice, and be willing to live that way of life ourselves for the good of others and to do God's will, beyond just what God commands. In effect, we are saying to God, "I want to be like Christ, who willingly suffered and died to sacrifice Himself for me, because I see that is the best way to be, and I want to sacrifice myself, as He did, because that is the best way to live" (Romans 12:1-2). We are not just selfishly accepting the sacrifice of Christ, just so we don't have to die, but we are accepting the way of living and thinking that led Christ to willingly be that sacrifice, so we can live that same way of life.
Humility is also a lesson in this. It is humbling to know we deserve to suffer and die for our own sins, but an innocent person, Christ, paid that penalty in our place so we don't have to. This should inspire humility, and gratitude, in us for eternity. We should be eternally thankful to God the Father and Jesus Christ for what they have done for us.
There may be other lessons. We learn how great is God's love towards us and how we can trust Him for eternity. We learn thankfulness, as I have mentioned. We learn that God the Father is trustworthy because Jesus Christ, as a human being, who knew the Father intimately and was with Him from eternity trusted Him completely to save Him and resurrect Him.
God the Father required the sacrifice of Christ because that is the best way to teach us these lessons. And there may be a lesson in that too. God and Christ chose the best way to teach us, not the easiest way. So we should follow their example when we make decisions. Make the best decisions and choices in life, not the easiest ones. Set the highest standard as God has set the highest standard in His plan for our salvation. Don't take the easy way out. God didn't.
See also my post around Passover time last year, "What the Sacrifice of Christ Teaches Us". Here is a link:
Here are links to related chapters or sections in Preaching the Gospel:
Passover -- the Sacrifice of Christ, Chapter 2