Through social media (twitter), an atheist asked me this question (the title) in regards to the death of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. The full comment/questions was: “That was very brutal of God. Send his OWN son down to be TORTURED and KILLED in a horrible fashion. Why didn’t an all-powerful God choose another way? Why wouldn’t a loving God choose a more loving and kind way with the SAME EXACT result?”
Atonement for sin had to be heinous and costly because sin against God was heinous and costly and the penalties in which it resulted likewise. God is holy. Much more holy than we can fathom. The smallest of lies offend His very being, just like the smallest of legal offenses is still breaking the law. To sin is to break God’s divine law. In the Book of Hebrews (NT), we are told that there is no remission for sin without the shedding of blood. This theme is consistent beginning back in the Old Testament as they were commanded to offer bulls and goats as sacrifices. The difference being, in the New Testament, God provided the sacrifice… His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, and it was His blood that was shed, not the blood of bulls or goats. What a picture! The Christian God (the only true God) isn’t an impersonal, legalistic god who says, “do, do, do in order to get to me.” The God of the universe is so personal, He has said, “I have already DONE… I’ve come to you.” That is the God who loves and provides redemption and hope. All the while, He is still holy, just, and righteous, and He will judge those who do not repent and believe in Jesus Christ, and therein render a “guilty” verdict, the sentencing to hell, which will last for all eternity. So to answer the question: “why didn’t God provide redemption in a less-gruesome fashion?” Because sin is criminal activity of the highest order, a divine high treason and such a crime requires severe punishment, the highest of punishments. The way of substitutionary sacrifice of Christ (His death on the cross [and His resurrection] in order to pay for the sins for those who believe) was heinous because the crime (sin) is heinous, far more heinous than our finite minds can comprehend. The way of the cross was chosen because it was effective in that it provided what was required to pay for sin: blood and death of a sinless sacrifice, and at the same time, it put God’s love, grace, righteousness and judgment on display for the world to see.