Everyone seems to have a different opinion about why Jesus died. We believe that the Bible gives several reasons for Christ's crucifixion:
Jesus' death on the cross was the beginning of a great procedure to
eradicate sin from this world and from our hearts.
As a result of His death and resurrection, Jesus could enter into the
heavenly sanctuary to begin making atonement for our sins.
Jesus’ resurrection was only possible because of His life, not His
death. So many talk about His birth, and some talk about His death, but
what about the years in between? The entire time He was on Earth, Jesus
lived a sinless life. He lived it as a human, not as God. If we are
truly connected to God, we can do the same miracles He did while on
Earth (John 14:12). Jesus spent hours in prayer with His Father and nothing He did was on His own (Luke 6:12, 9:28, 11:20, 22:39-45).
He lived a life consecrated to God, and so can we. His life was an
example of how to live a sinless life with God’s power.
If Jesus had sinned even once during His entire life, if He had given
in to one wrong thought or the smallest temptation, He could not have
been resurrected. Jesus did not die to show us what we all
have to go through, or that death is “not an end,” as one letter to TIME magazine suggests. In fact, death was very much an end for us all. And it would
have been for Him too, if He had not lived a sinless life. Jesus was
constantly under severe attack by Satan, dogged at every step by
harassment and temptation. In the wilderness, through reviling
Pharisees, through ungrateful lepers, through angry mobs, even through Jesus’ own mother and brothers, Satan
constantly tried to cause Jesus to sin. During the last hours of Christ's
life, Satan tried the hardest. Every inhuman cruelty that Satan could
conceive was hurled against Jesus. His demons worked overtime to
cause Jesus to disbelieve in His Father, to give up, to speak one word
of anger or hatred towards those that so cruelly mistreated Him, to sin
in any small tangible way. But, thank God, Satan was unsuccessful.
God truly put everything on the line to save us. If Jesus had sinned in
any respect, He, who was God, would not only have failed in securing
our salvation, but also would have put the entire universe in jeopardy.
Think about what would have happened if God, in human flesh as Jesus,
had sinned? Satan would have had complete victory. No wonder the attack
upon Jesus was so fierce.
No other human, no matter how much they have
suffered on this earth, had such a heavy responsibility as Jesus. The
weight of the universe was on His shoulders. And as Jesus hung on the
cross, Satan dared Him to not love. Jesus could have come down off that
cross at any time. “He could have sent ten-thousand angels,” says the
song. And so he could. But He didn’t. It was His love that held Him
there. His love for you.
The truth is Jesus didn’t have to die. He chose to because that was the
only way you or I could have been guaranteed a chance at eternal life. His perfect life is a free gift to all who accept to be covered by it.
Sadly, although Jesus died for everyone, not everyone will be saved by
His death. We must each accept His death and life in our stead. Even
though we have sinned, God accepts the perfect life of His Son in our
place, and we are considered righteous, even though we knew no righteousness (1 Peter 2:24).
Romans 7:18 says that nothing good dwells in us.
We are all sinners and guilty of death (Romans 3:23; 6:23). This may
not be a popular thought, but it is true nonetheless. Television preacher Robert Schuller teaches that, "What we need is to positivise the
words that have only had a negative connotation. There is no greater
damage that can be done than to refer to the lost sinful condition of
man. I don't think anything has been done in the name of Christ and
under the banner of Christianity that has proven more destructive to
human personality and, hence, counterproductive to the evangelism
enterprise than the often crude, uncouth, and unchristian strategy of
attempting to make people aware of their lost and sinful condition."i
But Robert Schuller is wrong. We may not feel comfortable admitting our
sinfulness, but the Bible tells the truth about our condition, and
offers real solutions. If we aren’t lost or sinful, then we don’t need
Jesus and He came in vain.
Jesus’ life and death are ours if we choose to accept them. Then as
we walk in the newness of life that He offers, we are empowered to live
as He did. Slowly but surely, as we submit daily to His Holy Spirit,
our characters are changed into His image.
Because of sin, people are separated from God (Isaiah 59:2). No longer
could they and God talk together as Adam and Eve had done
face to face. Through the centuries since Adam and Eve’s time, Satan
has made desperate attempts to blind the human race. He presents God as
being severe and unforgiving—just waiting and watching for every wrong
move we make so that He can condemn us to eternal death. This picture
of God was especially prevalent during the Middle Ages when Catholicism
was the dominant religion.
But Jesus states that He came for the exact
opposite reason: "I am come that they might have life, and that they
might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). Jesus came to show us
God’s love, and the lengths to which God will go to save us (John
3:16). His life of loving kindness and patience served to reestablish
the character of God as one of goodness and mercy (Exodus 34:6).
hasn’t quit trying to get people to fear God and think Him evil and
vengeful. Every time something bad happens on Earth, we tend to blame
God for it. Satan has managed to get us to make God responsible for Satan’s own
evil fruit. Satan has many deceitful ways to attack God’s character and
this is just one of them. Another way is to make us think Jesus is just a nice
figure from the past that died tragically and taught us a few good
things about the “Christian spirit.” Satan doesn’t care how we misunderstand who Jesus is. He only cares that it happens.
It was because God's law could not change that Christ had to come
down to die for us. If the law could be changed, God could have done
just that in the Garden of Eden, and life could have gone on. But it
could not be. Once the law was broken, there was an impassable rift
between humanity and God, and we would continue to break the law from
that day on. If God could modify that law to correct the situation, He
would have. But the only way to reconcile us to God was to present
Himself as a sacrifice to atone for our sin. Jesus’ death allowed us to
be officially reconciled with God (2 Corinthians 5:19).
Before the cross, those that believed in the Messiah looked forward
to His coming, in faith that He would make the atonement for them and
win their eternal life. Abraham had faith that God would accomplish
this very thing. We are privileged to live after the cross, because
our salvation is an established fact of history. We have more
information than Abraham and all the Old Testament people had. But
still we fail to understand.
If Jesus' death on the cross does not change our lives
and our behavior, then He died in vain. We must not just acknowledge
His death; we must accept it and all its implications for us. It
requires of us a change of life: "Therefore we are buried with him by
baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by
the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of
life...Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the
body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve
sin" (Romans 6:4,6).
When we accept Christ's sacrifice in our stead, we are given a new
lease on life. Old habits and the thoughts and attitudes that held us
in bondage can be removed if we permit the grace of Christ to effect a
change in our life. God desires to give us a better life—a life of
joy, peace, and freedom from sin (2 Corinthians 5:17). Christ did not
make the infinite sacrifice to secure for us the privilege of
continuing to break the commandments of God. Sin is the transgression
of the law, and the wages of sin is death (1 John 3:4; Romans 6:23).
The law is not meant to be a burden of heavy rules. It is the way of
happiness. God does not say “thou shalt not...” because He wants to
restrict our happiness and make life a drudgery. He tells us these
rules because without them, we would truly be in misery. The endless pain and
sorrow on this planet is a result of broken rules.
When a child is hit by a drunk driver, or abducted and killed by
someone bent on murder, we suffer the pain and sorrow of broken rules.
If we learned to see God's guidelines as the door to happiness, we would be able to
experience more joy and contentment.
To those who desire release from the bondage of sin, Jesus is the
answer. Because He conquered death and sin in His life, death, and
resurrection, we have hope and confidence that He can do the same in
Jesus took on the form of humanity so that no one can
say that Jesus doesn’t understand. If God thought that we could get out
from under the devil's torture in our own strength, He would not have
sent His Son the way He did. If the Gospel is: “we sin, we die, we do
right, we live,” then we could solve everything by our
own good behavior.
Instead, He was born to unmarried parents so He could relate to everyone
conceived out of wedlock, born in a barn so He knows what it feels like
to be poor, went to Egypt so He knows what culture shock and living
as a refugee is like, and lived in Nazareth so that He experienced the
ghettos. He hung nailed to a cross unable to move so He
can tell what it feels like to be in agony, trapped and helpless. He knows what
rejection is (Matthew 27:46). He felt the burden of the sin
of our lives so we never have to wonder if there is anyone who knows
how we feel. He made a choice to feel our pain, so we would be safe to
share our pain with Him—so we can trust Him and know He cares.
Jesus’ death seemed like Satan’s final victory blow, but Jesus’
resurrection was the triumphal display of victory over Satan. When Adam
and Eve sinned, Satan won dominion of this world and his government
reigned. As long as the Messiah had not yet come, Satan was an
undefeated foe. Satan had hurled every possible cruelty upon
Jesus, after which Jesus cried "it is finished," and died. But because Jesus
resurrected from the dead, Satan became a defeated foe. The world that
Satan once claimed as his has been reclaimed by Jesus.
Jesus is the only one that could redeem us from sin. Jesus is God. Before He lived on Earth, He had lived and worked with the Father in heaven and He loved us
(John 1:1-3). When Jesus lived here on Earth, He linked Himself to the
human race with ties that will never be broken.
Because of all this, we now can TRULY be God's sons and daughters (Ephesians 1:5-6). That doesn't mean we are mini-gods. It does mean, though, that we are privileged to be viewed by God as though we had never sinned
(1 John 3:1).
The most important thing to remember, however, is that Christ’s work
is not finished! Just because He died on the cross to accomplish our
redemption does not mean that He leaves us on our own. There
are perhaps some that would prefer to keep Him as a tragic figure, a
good example, or a hero that did a great deed, but that isn’t how it
is. We need Him as much now as we ever did. He does not—He cannot—leave us
just because He has gained the victory over Satan's hold on Earth
and its inhabitants.
Satan, after all, is not yet gone. God promises to
strengthen us in all our difficulties (Isaiah 41:10). He promises to be
with us in the deep waters and fiery trails of life (Isaiah 43:1-2).
And He promises to finish the work He started and bring us to a new
place where there is no more sin (Philippians 1:6; Revelation 21:4).
Christ's job of atoning for our sin is not yet complete. We have not yet
been reconciled with God to the point of Adam and Eve before sin. We
don’t yet enjoy the company of God face–to-face in a world of peace
with no death, pain, or sorrow. That is still to come. Today Jesus
ministers for us in heavenly places, and His work in heaven is as
important as His death on the cross.
Have you accepted Jesus as your Saviour and Lord? If you haven’t given your life over to Him, don’t
waste another moment.
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