Why did Jesus have to die? What was its meaning and benefit for humanity?
Yogananda explains that every event in Jesus' life was a high teaching in itself.
He says that Jesus did not die for the sins of everyone, as is generally taught in Christianity. Rather his seeming suffering and death happened so that he could take on the bad karma of his closest disciples, and to work it out on through own body, so that they would be purified, uplifted, and able to go forth and spead his teachings and his love throughout the world (which they did!).
When a soul reaches the level of a Jesus Christ or a Yogananda, he or she is fully liberated and a great avatar sent by God to help millions.
Such a one lives his or her life seemingly like a human being, but still they have the power to withdraw their consciousness from the body and not really suffer or die as ordinary people do. It’s like an act or a drama happening, so that we can relate and learn from their examples — many deep and important teachings are offered to us in this way.
Finally, Jesus' body died, but he was resurrected in a new body. So it is with all the great ones (us too, for that matter). There really is no death at all. Just a change.