My life (put) alongside God's word. Section on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Good Friday and Easter come around every year. Perhaps you will preach or speak about our Saviour’s death and resurrection? These are familiar subjects. I hope we do not miss the deep truths by our familiarity with them.
The cross, crucifixion and the atonement
In the Bible the cross is “pieces of wood that Christ was
crucified on”. It can mean “his death, crucifixion, the work
Jesus did on the cross, or the whole Christian message”.
Crucifixion is “putting persons to death by nailing or tying them to a cross and leaving them there until they die. It was the worst way a person was killed in the Roman Empire. This was the way Christ died”. “If a person holds right views about the Atonement, he will sooner or later get right views about every other question. But if he holds wrong views about the Atonement he is sure to go wrong about everything else”.
There are over 175 direct references to the death of Christ in the New Testament, plus many prophecies and types in the Old Testament. The atoning blood of Jesus Christ is the
heart and core of our Bibles. We will look briefly at seven passages, any one of which could be an atonement sermon next Passiontide or at any Communion service.
1. Hebrews 2:14 “Since the children have flesh and blood, (Jesus) too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil”. The major goal of Jesus’ incarnation was His death. Jesus became
human so that He could die in humanity’s place.
Notice it was chosen for Him to be a Jew. He was noSudanese, South Sudanese or English! He was human, therefore He was like every one of us. All people are similar and in His image. Every individual is to be highly valued.
2. Matthew 20:28 “…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many”. The purpose of Jesus’ death was to pay a ransom. I believe in the penal substitution theory, that Christ died, under God’s judgement, for our sin. This sin was not His own – He never sinned. Jesus substituted Himself instead
of you and me, dying vicariously for us on the cross. Jesus satisfied God’s holy and righteous anger at humankind’s sinful rebellion.
Notice every one ever born has sinned against God, except Jesus. We all too easily remember the sins of others against us, whilst we forget ours against God.
Remembering our own sins will put those of others into perspective.
3. Luke 9:30-31 “Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendour, talking with Jesus. They spoke about His departure, which He was about to bring to fulfilment at Jerusalem”. On the Mount of Transfiguration Jesus dazzled His watching disciples. The Old Testament Law and the Prophets were represented by the two men from the past.
Significantly, their conversation centred on the upcoming death and resurrection of Christ. His atoning death, the only “way of bringing God and believers back into a good relationship”, was what all three talked about. May our speaking focus on this too!
Notice, when Jesus Christ, His Person and work, gain our central attention, all other activities in life become less important. This is correct. It is the devil who wants us to put, and to keep, the secondary things first.
4. 1 Peter 1:12 “It was revealed to (the prophets) that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things”. Past prophets and present angels wanted so very much to see and to understand these Jesus-events we are thinking about. The surrounding verses urge us towards self-controlled and holy living, both marks of genuine Christianity.
Notice how easy it is to claim to be a Christian while ignoring the necessary godly, God-like, lifestyle. Christ’s ways are often challengingly different from the world’s ways. Be honest, who are you most like? Jesus or worldly people?
5. Revelation 5:9 “And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because You were slain, and with Your blood You purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation”. Heaven’s song also has the death of Christ as its central theme. Hundreds of thousands musically voice with majestic volume the greatness and wonder of Jesus – the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
Notice there are men and women “from every tribe and language”, meaning that even those who hate you will have some representatives there. We must accept all of those Christ has accepted. On the cross He paid in His own blood for them. Our duty is to
welcome all people with similarly open arms.
6. Isaiah 53:5 “But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed”. Verse 11. “After the suffering of His soul, He will see the light of life and be satisfied; by His knowledge myRighteous Servant will justify many, and He will bear their
iniquities”. The success of Christ on the cross was and is guaranteed. Jesus is satisfied. He is “pleased with what has been achieved”. Since God is happy with the results of the cross, we can be too.
Notice the wounds of Christ offer us healing. Where pain festers, we may apply the ointment of the blood of Christ for a spiritual antiseptic cream. Healing is a process back to wholeness. Broken relationships can be restored.
Verse 10 speaks of our Lord’s death as “a guilt offering” or “a sin offering”. Only on the grounds of Jesus’ death is forgiveness of sin possible. Only through Jesus’ sacrifice can forgiveness be offered to us by God. And it should be offered by us to all who have wronged us, showing we are true Christians.
7. 1 John 4:10 “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a propitiation for our sins”. According to Debbie Dodd propitiation is “the turning away of anger by an offering”. God’s love for us is so very big that He absorbed His own anger against sin by suffering Himself on the cross. Notice that we can show God’s love to others, by not retaliating when they hurt us. Instead we respond to their hostility by expressing the love of God. There is no human answer to such genuinely Christian action.