God’s Supreme Sacrifice for You
Author: Wendy Goubej
Publish date:
Summary: How will we choose to live in light of God's sacrifice for us, which is larger than we can ever understand?

The Cross

The Phoenicians invented the cross as an execution tool approximately 600 years before Christ. It was then adopted by the Egyptians, and later the Romans refined it and used it to execute runaway slaves and their worst criminals.

CC magdalena on Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/25182350@N03/2981062354/in/faves-133359478@N05/

Crucifixion was the most painful and shameful instrument of execution ever practiced. The book Watch With Me gives a detailed description of Roman execution. It takes between three and seven days to die on the cross.

Gangrene is formed in your hands and feet where rusty nails have pierced. You have splitting migraine headaches. Every joint of your body feels torn apart and the pain is excruciating. You have cramps everywhere. Air is forced out of your lungs so that you are suffocating. In the night you are exposed to the cold and in the daytime you are exposed to the heat.

But what is it that makes Christ’s death the supreme sacrifice above all other deaths? Many martyrs have suffered horrible deaths, some in ways that seem more agonizing than Jesus’ death on the cross.

The Curse

It was the chief priests and officers who cried out “crucify Him” (John 19:5-7) when Pilate presented Christ to them. Pilate, an official of Rome, found no fault in Jesus, so the Jews had to give a reason why they were demanding Jesus’ crucifixion. They said that they had a law that condemned Christ to death. The law they were referring to was the law of blasphemy.

According to the law of blasphemy, Jesus was to have been stoned, not crucified. In John 10:30-33 we see the Jews trying to stone Jesus after He said, “The Father and I are one.” This proves they were aware that stoning was the method of death for blasphemy.

Source: Peter Mulligan on Flickr.

The Jews demanded Christ be crucified because they wanted him to be cursed of God. In Deuteronomy 21:22-23 we learn that if a man committed a sin deserving of death and hung on a tree as a means of execution, he was accursed of God (see also Acts 5:30; 10:39; 13:29).

When the Jews cried out “crucify Him” they were not only demanding that Christ be put to death, but they were demanding that God’s curse be upon Him. To a Jew, when one is hung on a tree, they could not offer a prayer of forgiveness for all the sin they had committed because they were forever separated from God. They were accursed. This is what they wanted for Christ.

The Cost

Galatians 3:13 tells us that Christ redeemed us by becoming a curse. Christ felt the guilt of the whole world. And He chose to do this for us. God could not remove the curse from Christ because He loved us and that was the only way He could save us. “He spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all” (Romans 8:32). He did this because the Son Himself had willingly chosen this path because of His love for us.

Some have accused God the Father of being evil because He allowed His own Son to die. They ask, “what kind of a Father would do that to His Son?” These people forget that God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—Three in One.

What the Son wants, the Father and Holy Spirit want, and what the Father wants, the Son and Holy Spirit want. They think alike. They love us alike. It was not easy for the Father to see His Son suffering. The Father suffered with the Son, and because they are all God, God Himself offered Himself as the substitute in our behalf. So, it wasn’t really a far-away Father watching and allowing His Son to suffer. It was a very near Father suffering with His Son, for both were giving of themselves for us because they loved us.

It was God the Father Himself who raised Jesus from the dead (Acts 5:30; 1 Corinthians 6:14; Galatians 1:1). Jesus did not raise Himself. Jesus was totally dependent on His Father while in this world, and He was no less dependent on the Father for His resurrection also. This was a remarkable condescension on the part of Jesus, who had all power before He came to earth. But He willingly laid aside His power to be dependent on His Father in all things.

When Jesus was dying on the cross, He exclaimed, “My God, My God, why has Thou forsaken Me?“ (Mark 15:33-37).

The plan was that Jesus would die for the human race and then the Father would raise Him up. But Jesus is crying out to His Father that He feels abandoned. He does not feel His Father’s presence any longer. The hope of the resurrection went with that abandonment. He could not save both the world and Himself. He had to choose between the world and Himself, and He still goes through with it!

Do you know what He is saying in this act? He is saying that He loves us more than He loves Himself—that He was willing to die eternally without the hope of resurrection so that we could live; that He was willing to be eternally separate from His own Father whom He had been together in fellowship with since the beginning of time; that He was willing to sacrifice never being able to see His Father’s face again in order that we would be saved. This is how much He loved us. This is the depth of His supreme sacrifice for us.

In Psalm 22, we read the remarkable account of a crucifixion and the very words that Jesus uttered before He died. This account gives us a clue into the deep emotional pain that wracked His heart while on the cross.

In verse 6, Jesus describes Himself as a worm. Jesus, and in other words, God, laid down His life (1 John 3:16) and was willing to be blotted out of existence that we might live in His place. This is how much the cross demonstrated God’s love for us sinners. By this supreme sacrifice, Jesus was telling us that He loves us more than Himself.

Our Choice

When we truly understand what Jesus has done for us, it inspires us to love Him (John 4:19) and to want to live for Him (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). When we see the love that Christ had in choosing us over Himself, it awakens love in us. This is the right motivation for accepting Christ. Because He has shown us how much He loves us, we can begin to slowly start to trust Him with our hearts and lives.

When love is awakened in us, then living for Him and choosing His ways becomes not a chore or a duty, but an act of loving honor and praise to the One who did so much for us. In this way, obedience to God’s laws and ways is never an act of “good works” done to “save ourselves” but an outpouring of our gratitude and love for God for everything He has done for us.

Read more about God's saving grace and our role in the relationship in Conversion and Repentance

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