My life alongside God's word, vol. 3. Theology of the Lord Jesus and our salvation section.
Christians believe our Lord Jesus Christ died in our place on Calvary’s cross.
The already alive Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, was born a baby boy. He did not stop being God. He has always been and will always be God. In Mary’s womb He took on full human nature. The incarnation, when He was born in Bethlehem, enables human beings to recognisably view, “the image of the invisible God”, Colossians 1:15.
During the legal hearing before governor Pilate, Jesus was said to be innocent by the political leader of Judea four times:
· “I find no basis for a charge against this man”, Luke 23:4
· “I have found no basis for your charges against him”, verse 14
· “Neither has Herod … he has done nothing to deserve death”, verse15
· “I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty”, verse 22
Preaching much later in the synagogue of Pisidian Antioch Paul summarised this, “Though they found no proper ground for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him executed”, Acts 13:28.
When our Lord Jesus was dying on the cross one criminal being crucified beside Him observed, “This man has done nothing wrong”, Luke 23:41.
A Roman centurion guarding the execution, as soon as he watched Jesus die concluded, “Surely this was a righteous man”, verse 47.
This theme of ‘holy, right and pure' was carried on by the first Christians as they witnessed to our Lord’s resurrection:
· “You (Jews) disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this”, Acts 3:14-15
· “Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him”, Acts 7:52
As an innocent person Jesus was not guilty of a crime, or of anything bad.
Because our Lord Jesus was totally innocent there was no need for His human life to ever end. Death is ultimately due to sin and Jesus never, ever sinned. His nature was holy and pure. He was (and is) the only person – man or woman – who lived perfectly in the sight of God His Father in heaven. His human life and death gave God pleasure, made Him feel happy and satisfied:
· At His baptism, “A voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased””, Matthew 3:17.
· On the mount of transfiguration, “a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him”, Matthew 17:5.
So, why did our Lord Jesus die? The clues are given to us in Luke 24, the chapter after Jesus’ trial by Pilate, His crucifixion, death and resurrection. By then the risen Lord Jesus had already done what He came to earth to do.
He joined two disciples walking the 7 miles from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They did not understand the significance of Jesus’ crucifixion, nor were they sure that He had risen from death. He asked them a question to make the truth dawn in their minds as they answered it:
· “Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory? And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”, Luke 24:26-27.
At the meal table, as if a blindfold was removed from their eyes, they recognised their guest was Jesus. Immediately, truth revolutionised their lives. They possibly ran the 7 miles back to the city! They found the assembly of disciples, and shared with everybody their personal belief in the risen Saviour.
Everyone was surprised and not a little frightened when Jesus suddenly appeared standing among them! He showed them His scarred and bloodied hands and feet. They all knew this was the same Jesus as before.
· “Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.””, Luke 24:45-47
To repent means to sorrowfully change your mind about something very serious, and then resolve to live differently as a result.
Nobody else but Jesus is innocent before the one Holy God. Yet Jesus’ death in our place means none of us has to face on our own the wrath of God against the personal sin we all have. Jesus’ substitution for us means He can legally become our Saviour. He has taken our guilt and will exchange it for God’s grace and forgiveness in our lives, when we repent in His presence.
Thank God every day for our substitute Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ!