"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path". Ps 119:105
THE DEATH OF JESUS
Reading: Mark 14 and 15
The problem of Sin
Sin [disobedience to God] is a major problem for mankind. It is a problem that even the most sincere man or woman is unable to solve. It is not possible for man to overcome his nature and conquer sin by his own efforts. The whole message of the Bible is about how God has provided the answer to the sin of man. God gave His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ to be the sacrifice that was necessary to break the hold of sin on man.
The Lord Jesus is the central pivot of this work of salvation. Jesus offered a willing, obedient sacrifice of himself, overcoming the power of sin and making it possible for his disciples of all ages to do the same by following him.
The sacrifice of the Lord Jesus makes it possible for both the Lord Jesus Christ and all his true followers to escape the consequences of the sentence of death inherited from Adam. And it also makes it possible for the followers of Jesus to have their sins forgiven. Jesus of course, although human, did not commit any sins.
A prophecy of the sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ
We can read about the sufferings of the Lord in the Gospels. But we gain a fuller understanding if we read some of the prophecies as well. For example if we turn to Psalm 22 it enables us to understand how Jesus felt during the crucifixion, we read:
"But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, despised of the people. All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him" (verses 6 - 8)
Not only the pain, but also the shame of being crucified and the ridicule of others weighed heavily upon Jesus. Read this Psalm very carefully for perhaps more than any other words in the Bible, these help us to appreciate what the Lord went through for us. Look again at verses 15 -16:
"My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet."
How did it came about?
The rulers of the Jews, the Priests, Scribes and Pharisees hated Jesus. Great crowds came to listen to Jesus, and brought the sick to be healed. The Jewish leaders could not see that the miracles he did were a proof that he really was the Son of God, but rather, resenting Jesus because he chastised them for their hypocrisy and being blinded by their jealousy and hate, they were determined that Jesus must be killed. They accused him of blasphemy, which had to be punished by death according to the laws God had given to them.
Of course, this was a false accusation, but justice was unimportant to them! Israel at that time was ruled over by the Romans, and although the leaders of the Jews, the priests and Pharisees' condemned Jesus to death, they could not put him to death without the consent of the Roman Governor.
The Jews brought Jesus to Pontius Pilate the Roman Governor demanding that he should be crucified. Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent and that the Jews wanted him killed out of jealousy. But Pilot was afraid that if he withstood their demands they would report him to Caesar and he might lose his position. So giving in to their demands he handed Jesus over to be killed by crucifixion - a painful and agonising death - although he knew Jesus was innocent. Thus both the Romans and the Jews were responsible for what happened to the Lord Jesus.
Why did Jesus have to suffer so much?
As we think of Jesus suffering the agony of crucifixion and remember that he was sinless we ask ourselves: "Why did this have to happen to Jesus?"
One thing is certain: it was the only way by which men could be saved from sin. Jesus had prayed three times to his Father, "If it be possible, let this cup pass from me" (Matthew 26:39) but submitted himself to God's will saying, "Nevertheless not my will, but Thine, be done" (Luke 22:42.) If it had been possible, we can be sure that God would have spared His Son from the agony of death. But it was the only way.
Why did Jesus have to die?
So why was it the only way? Adam sinned, disobeying God's commandment as a result Adam died. Death was his punishment. Paul writes: "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). This is the law of God, and it cannot be broken.
Jesus was tempted in all the ways that we are but never gave way to human nature, Jesus never disobeyed God's law, he never sinned. Thus in Hebrews 4:15 we read Jesus was:
"in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."
The Bible teaches that Christ had to die because he was of our mortal, sin prone nature. Yet Jesus, although exactly of the same nature as Adam and mortal, did not sin and so he did not deserve to die. For this reason although the law of sin and death said he had to die, he was undeserving of death and so God could justly raise him to life again. God was able to raise Jesus from the dead without breaking His own law that "the wages of sin is death".
Jesus willingly laid down his life both for himself, because as we read "flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God" and secondly as a perfect representative of man. If we believe and have faith in him, God is willing to count our faith as righteousness. We read in John 3:16 "God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life".
After his resurrection God gave Jesus a new nature one that was no prone to death because of Adam's sin and a nature that could no longer be tempted to sin. Life is a gift from God as a reward for faith, as that verse already quoted from Romans 6:23 goes on to say: "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord". So we can have our sins forgiven by confessing and repenting of our sin then being associated with the sacrifice of Jesus through baptism. When Jesus comes again we can also overcome death and receive the gift of eternal life.
The lessons of Christ's death
The crucifixion of the Lord Jesus was a terrible event. It showed men at their worst as they took the perfect, gentle Son of God and brutally killed him. The crucifixion showed the depths of evil to which men can sink and exposing the evil nature of man. It also shows the inability of man to save themselves. We have to realise that we are also sinners, and desperately in need of salvation.
We do well to think about the fact that only the Lord Jesus was an acceptable sacrifice. He was like a lamb without blemish; and God was willing to accept this perfect sacrifice as the offering for all those who believe in Jesus as "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29)
Another important lesson is this: the death of Christ shows the extent of God's love for us. Paul puts it like this:
"He spared not his own Son, but delivered up for us all shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32)
At one with God
Man was separated from God by sin. The repair of that division is called in the Scriptures "Atonement". If you look at the word you can see what it means:
This is what the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus can do for us. It can ultimately make us "at one" with God; in perfect harmony and agreement. This is achieved by our escaping from Adam to Christ and having our sins forgiven. David says in the Psalms:
"Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, while sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity" (Psalm 32:1, 2)
God has provided all that we need for salvation, blessed indeed is the man or woman that God has forgiven and whose sin is covered. God has indeed shown His love for us, as John writes:
If God has shown love and grace towards us, what then should be our response? God will not forgive us if we spurn His mercy and great love.
What about our part?
God has done all He can for us, God has given us the means of salvation through Jesus and Jesus gave his life for us. But unless we truly believe what God has done for us, the sacrifice of Jesus will not do us any good at all!
What must we do? Some of the Jews asked the Apostle Peter this question and his answer is just as true for us today as it was for them. We read Peter said:
"Repent, and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38)
Again, in the next chapter (Acts 3:19) the apostle says:
"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out."
The grace of God and our faith
So we come to the very heart of the gospel message. In the fullness of His love, God has given Jesus as a sacrifice for sin. This free love of God is often spoken of in the New Testament as 'His grace'. Thus in Ephesians 1:6-8 we read of grace:
We can reject God's grace and love. We can ignore it. But if we are wise, we will do neither of these things. We have a wonderful offer of life, God has demonstrated His willingness to show love and mercy to us. What shall our response be? Will we be among those of whom Jesus speaks in Mark 16:16:
"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved."
Baptism begins a new life
We are the children of Adam and, like Adam, we prefer our own ways to the ways of God. But Jesus, when he gave his life as a sacrifice for sin, made it possible for us to become the children of God and part of the family of Christ. Jesus said:
"If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me" (Luke 9:23)
We must be baptised according to his commandment and follow Jesus. This means that, instead of walking in our sinful ways, we must die to sin (that is, make every effort to stop sinning) and walk with Christ in a new life, preferring God's way to our own and striving to obey His commandments. The Apostle Paul tells us:
"They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (Galatians 5: 24, 25)
To get to know God's word properly we need to read the Bible for ourselves.
Study 14 Questions
These are for you to answer for yourself if you wish, or you can note the correct answer to each question and send via email to: Bible Light Please give the number of the study that you are sending the answers for.