From its foundation, the philosophy of the universal Church taught many reasons for the death of Lord Jesus on the cross.
One of them is known as the “moral influence.”
This reason for the cross highlights the example of love, humility, and devotion that Lord Jesus gave by accepting the humiliation of the cross without defense.
One of the outcomes of the “moral influence” is the proposition that in order to be rid of violence, vitriol and hate, that one should let these dark qualities run their course, because once their purpose is fulfilled, they no longer have reason or power to continue.
The non-violent resistance movement of Tolstoy, Gandhi and King Jr. respectively, are based upon this interpretation of the cross.
This interpretation of the cross is linked with the Biblical ideal of serving as non-violent “witnesses” (or martyrs) to the truth, of which Lord Jesus is the perfect and primary example. (John 18:37; Rev. 1:5; 3:14)
Revelation 1:5- “…and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood.”
When Lord Jesus allowed for sin and death to run its course, He conquered them by rendering them null and void via the physical Resurrection. In Christ, death, sin, hell and Satan- all accomplished their main mission against the Creator. Once their mission was accomplished, they were rendered powerless, or “destroyed.” (Hebrews 2:14)
There are many reasons why Lord Jesus died- but the “moral influence” is not one of the main reasons for His death on behalf of humankind.
As the LOGOS of God through whom all things were made and sustained (2Cor. 8:6-7), He humbled Himself by submitting to the universal law of giving or receiving life through sacrifice.
This of course is attested throughout creation- the fact that everything that has life, sustains it by consuming life. This is even a fact among strict vegetarians and their consuming vegetables!
On the Cross, Lord Jesus fulfills the universal law of voluntarily sacrificing His own life in order to give Life to the entire Cosmos- or at least, to those who desire it.
This is one of the reasons why Lord Jesus is called the “Lamb of God” and He speaks of attaining eternal life by “eating and drinking” His body and blood. Of course, it is the blood in which the “soul” or “life” (nefesh) resides, and was given as a means of atonement from time immemorial. (John 1:29; 6: 53-54; Leviticus 17:11) So the Scripture is true, that without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins. (Hebrews 9:22)
In the garden of Eden we all died when our parents ate the fruit of the prohibited tree. At Calvary the second Adam gave us life by partaking of his body and blood, sacrificed on the tree of the Cross.
Did Lord Jesus have to die? Yes, if He intended to save us by means of universal laws, then Lord Jesus (its creator and sustainer) had to die in order to give the Cosmos new life.