On this special Friday when we celebrate the death of Jesus it is good to look back and consider why He died.
The Apostle Paul said, “We preach Christ crucified” [1 Corinthians 1:23]. A few verses later, in his same epistle he said, “I determined to know nothing among you except Christ and Him crucified” [1 Corinthians 2:2]
The symbol of Christianity is a cross – an instrument of torture. Wherever you go you will the symbol of the cross – on jewellery, on graves and in churches, but the real cross is not so popular!
It was not popular to the Jews because it hurt their religious pride or the Greeks because it hurt their intellectual pride. It is certainly not acceptable to Muslims who say that it is impossible for a prophet to die in such a way.
However, neither religion nor intellectualism has the ultimate answer to man’s dilemmas and problems. Ask Solomon, the richest man of his generation. He wrote the story of his search for God in the book of Ecclesiastes. He sought answers in education and learning [1:12-18]; in work and business [2:12-26]; in philosophy [3:5-8]; in morally good living [7:1-12:12] but the result was failure! Thirty-seven times Solomon uses the words, “Vanity, all is vanity!”
We need to understand what happened on the cross – why is it so important? It is not the material of the cross but the Person on the cross that makes it so powerful.
Following his statement, “We preach Christ crucified,” Paul says, “Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God” [1 Corinthians 1:24]
THERE FOUR SPECIFIC REASONS WHY JESUS DIED UPON THE CROSS FOR EVERY PERSON
SUBSTITUTION – JESUS DIED IN OUR PLACE
Peter says, “Christ died, the just for the unjust” [1 Peter 3:18]
Here is the principle of substitution:
[a] We are all sinner – by nature and by deed
[b] Because God is both holy and just He must judge sin
[c] God wants to have fellowship with us, but cannot because of our sin – it has separated us from God
[d] Because God is just His justice must be satisfied – the penalty of sin must be paid.
[e] Only when the penalty of sin is paid can the sinner be set free and have a relationship with God.
On the cross Jesus took our place, bore our sin and satisfied God’s holiness and justice.
In the Old Testament a sacrificial lamb was killed so that a representative of sinful man could come into God’s presence. The sacrificial lamb pointed to Jesus and prompted John the Baptist to say, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” [John 1:29].
Jesus took the punishment for sin that we deserved and were due to receive. As the hymn writer wrote, “ In my place condemned He stood, Sealed my pardon with His blood.” Jesus was our SUBSTITUTE.
RECONCILIATION – JESUS DIED TO RECONCILE US BACK TO GOD
We understand reconciliation as the joining together of two parties who have been in dispute, and is often understood in the context of marriage.
Our relationship with God has been damaged by sin – we are alienated from God. The Bible says that outside of Christ a person is dead toward God and there is nothing that we could do about it, however much we may have tried. But took the initiative in bringing about reconciliation. Paul speaks about what were outside of Christ, lost, dead, controlled by fleshly lusts and passions, worldly, but God reached out to us [Ephesians 2:4]
God, was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself [2 Corinthians 5:19]
We have reconciliation…. and peace through the blood of His cross [Colossians 1:19-20]
“… we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son [Romans 5:10]
REDEMPTION – JESUS BOUGHT US BACK FROM SATAN AND SIN
The song sung about Jesus in heaven says, “You were slain, and have redeemed
us to God by your blood, out of every people” [Revelation 5:9]
To redeem something means to make a payment to buy it back. The word was appropriate in the slave market where a good man might by a slave with payment and then sign a document to release him and set him free. The same word,
“redeem” can be used of goods that have been pawned to make money but are then bought back.
Peter writes, “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect [1 Peter 1:18-19].
Jesus, speaking in the synagogue, quoted from Isaiah 61:1-3 and said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me… He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from the darkness for the prisoners.” Jesus paid the price to redeem us, heal us and give us freedom!
RESTORATION – JESUS DIED TO FORGIVE OUR SINS
Paul writes, “In Jesus we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” [Ephesians 1:7]
To forgive is the Greek word ‘aphiemi” which means “to send away.” God has taken our sins and put them on Jesus – He has sent them away from us! With this forgiveness we are released the guilt of sin, the penalty of sin, the mistakes of the past and the fear of death!
The Psalmist knew the meaning of this when he wrote these wonderful words:
“The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” [Psalm 103:8-12]
“From north to south is limited because there is a North and South Pole, but from east to west never comes to an end. That’s how far God has removed our transgressions from us.” [Corrie ten Boom]
The Lord says in Isaiah, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will remember your sins no more” [Isaiah 43:25]
The prophet Micah said, “You will cast our sins into the depths of the sea.” [Micah 7:19]
A young man had wandered far from home and had been deeply damaged in the world. He wondered whether his parents would accept him back. The train line to the station where his parents lived went past the bottom of their garden, and there was apple tree in the garden. He wrote to his parents and said that if they were happy to accept him home to put a white handkerchief on the tree at a time when he would be on a train going past the house. He continued by saying that if there was no handkerchief he would continue on his way and not come home. As the train neared the garden he could scarce bear to look. He asked a fellow passenger to look for him. The fellow passenger shouted with excitement and told the young man to look. The whole tree was covered with white handkerchiefs. That’s how much God wants us to come home!
“Praise my soul the King of heaven,
To His feet thy tribute bring;
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Who like me His praise should sing?
Praise Him, praise Him, praise Him, praise Him,
Praise with us the God of grace”