Wednesday, September 3, 2008
The reasons behind why Jesus died are a combination of God's plan and man's foolish sin in killing an innocent man. The foremost reason is the love of God, Rom 8:5; 1 Jn 3:16. Man had a desperate need for redemption, Rom 3:10; Mt 20:28; Heb 2:9; 1 Ti 1:15. Ultimately, a need for the remission of sins, Rom 2:5; Heb 9:22; Lk 24:46; Acts 17:3; 1 Cor 15:3. Jesus was that "acceptable sacrifice" to God, Mt 20:28; Eph 5:2; 1 Th 5:10. It was God's plan that Jesus died "vicariously" or in place of those who deserved it. This vicarious pattern was illustrated directly through the Old Testament antitype of the scapegoat, Lev 16:21-22. It was God's plan that an exchange be made: "the just for the unjust", Jn 10:14-18; Mt 26:53; 1 Cor 5:21; Gal 1:3-4; ; 3:13; 2 Cor 5:14,21; 1 Pe 2:24; 3:18; Rom 5:7-8; Isa 53:8-9. Without His death, Jesus could not have "qualified" as a high priest "with his own blood": Heb 9:7-12. These were the primary reasons from God's view why Jesus died.
It appears that in God's overall plan, there was some kind of time table in place to determine when Christ would die. Jesus was clearly appointed by God to die from the Garden, even before creation: Gen 3:15; Isa 53:6,10; Ac 2:23; Eph 3:11; 1 Pe 1:19-20. It seems that when the Gentiles started taking interest in Jesus, it was a signal to Christ that His death was near and His mission was accomplished: Jn 12:20-23; Jn 4:34; 17:4; 19:28-30. Although the death of Christ was part of a predetermined plan, Jesus was clearly not forced into dying, but volunteered his life as a gift, Isa 53:12; Mt 26:53; Joh 2:19; 5:26; 10:17,18.
Jesus death was not something hidden in a corner. It was staged by God during the most important festival of the Jews. There were people from "every nation" present there. It was an event openly displayed for all to see and talk about, Acts 26:26; Mt 28:11,15.
From Jesus' point of view, his death was primary a result of His selfless humility, Phil 2:5-8. Yet death was also necessary for the divine Jesus to "learn" obedience: Heb 8:5. This humble obedience is an eternal "pattern" for all creation to imitate.
On a grandeur scale, the death of Christ provided a foundational "model" and the most basic reference point that Christians are to focus upon. It sets the tone and outlook as Christians. The death burial and resurrection is perhaps the foremost of 5 metaphors of baptism. (New birth, clothing, circumcision, washing) Our very initiation into the family of God begins with baptism: Rom 6:2-6; Mt 16:24;; 5:24. The first requirement of becoming a Christian is "death" to self. Gal 2:20. This struggle continues throughout our walk upon the earth. Jesus death is our "ultimate" example of enduring wrongful suffering on a day to day basis as Christians, Heb 12:2; 1 Pe 2:21. So we can see that the death of Christ provides a foundation for every meaning, thought and action for the Christian. Without the death of Christ, our outlook would be very different indeed. The Christian's essence might otherwise be seasoned with pride rather than humility.
THE MOMENT OF CHRIST'S DEATH
The moment of the death of Christ accomplished much. It brought about the abolishment of the entire Law of Moses including the 10 commandments, simultaneously establishing the Law of Christ: Col 2:14; Heb 9:16. It established peace between Jew and Gentile, Eph 2:15 and in a most strange way even brought peace between two former political foes: Pilate and Herod, Lk 23:12. It even moved two formerly secret disciples of Jesus, Joseph and Nicodemus, to openly declare their faith in Jesus. Jn 19:38-39.
But the most dramatic images of the moment Christ died are captured at the climatic statement of the centurion who witnessed the death and proclaimed, "Surely this was the Son of God". Yes, he witnessed quite a show indeed! The sky had already been darkened for the three hours PRIOR to Christ's death, Mt 27:45-46. The earth quaked, there were dead raised, the veil ripped in two (symbolizing the abolishment of the law of Moses) Mt 27:51. As for the three hours of darkness, they ENDED the moment Christ died. To an onlooker, the "lights came on", ending the 3 hours of darkness, and all things returned to normal. Christ died, the event completed, the law fulfilled, the drama complete...then the "stage lights" came on indicating the "play" was over. The Centurion, who was in the "audience" that day, stood stunned by all he saw and made the soul saving proclamation! "Surely this was the Son of God!" Amen!