NT Part 3, Jesus’ Death.
At the end of the first blog on the NT I shared this Bible verse:
“Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”
I then shared that all religions known to humanity acknowledge that a broken relationship exists between God and people. Every religion tells their method an individual must perform to fix the brokenness. I then said,
The GOOD NEWS (remember that is what the word ‘gospel’ means) is that our behaviors can’t take away our sins but Jesus the “Lamb of God” can and does. So, when I finally get to a point in life where I want a restored relationship with God who loves me (my definition of spirituality) I can achieve that by going through Jesus who takes away my sin and brings God’s Kingdom, God’s presence to my world.
The New Testament tells us not only that Jesus took away our sin but also how Jesus took away our sin. Each of the four Gospels tells us the story of the crucifixion of Jesus. This form of Roman capital punishment was gruesome. It was designed to intimidate conquered people and to cause any person or persons who might be considering rebellion against the occupying forces to pause and think about the consequences if that rebellion failed. Mel Gibson’s movie, “The Passion of the Christ,” is a graphic and I believe fairly accurate depiction of the events of Jesus’ last day and process through which he went ending in crucifixion.
Not only does the New Testament tells us how Jesus died but it also tells us the deeper meaning as to why Jesus died. At the end of the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses’ memoirs and summary of God’s covenant with Israel, he says,
“Cursed is anyone who does not uphold the words of this law by carrying them out.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!” Deuteronomy 27:26
Only Jesus has lived in total obedience to the law of God. The rest of humanity has not “carried them out.” This is the nature of sin, i.e., failing to carry out…live by the laws of God. Therefore we all fall under this curse of separation from God. Jesus came to remove that curse from us by taking the curse for us. Listen to what some of verses from the New Testament say.
11 Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, “The righteous will live by faith.” 12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, “The man who does these things will live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” Galatians 3:11-13 (NIV)
Jesus took our curse, our sin, on himself by dying on the cross…the tree. But why such a bloody and gruesome way?
22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. … But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. Hebrews 9:22-28 (NIV)
In the Old Testament way of forgiveness, shedding of blood was essential. For a new way of relationship with God to enter the stage of history, the old way had to be properly closed. Jesus was the last sacrifice that needed to be made. The process of Jesus taking on our curse, of Jesus being the final sacrifice, became summarized in an ancient formula of the earliest Christians. The Apostle Paul, not one of the original disciples, received this formula from them and passed it along to us.
3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (NIV)
Jesus went through the gruesome process of crucifixion to take away our sin so we might have a restore relationship with God. The key verse of the New Testament summarizes what happens for a person who is willing to accept Jesus sacrifice as being their own.
For God so loved the world that he gave (as an example of how to live and as a sacrifice on behalf of the world God loved) his only son that whosoever believes in him (understands and accepts that this is the only means of reconciling with a holy and loving God) shall not perish (live under ‘the curse” now and forever) but have eternal life. John 3:16
The way the early Christians talked about this a few years after Jesus’ resurrection was
But God demonstrates his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
God didn’t wait until we had self-perfected to demonstrate his love. God loved first. God offered first. As in the Old Testament with Adam and Eve God provided a way to reconcile us first.
Here is one final way of thinking about this gift from God through Jesus to us. We are all dying. The only hope we have to live is by receiving a blood transfusion. So, we admit our need, humble ourselves and receive that life-giving transfusion of blood into my body. Jesus offers that spiritual transfusion to us through the giving of his blood. Without it we die. Will you accept his gift?