More than 1,900 years ago, Jesus Christ died a cruel, agonizing death in Roman-occupied Judea. But what did that death accomplish? Does it have any effect on you personally?
The Roman government and its soldiers were arrogant and they were merciless. Jesus Christ was just another common criminal to them. To the pious and hypocritical religious leaders, Christ was a threat that had to be eliminated.
But to you and me and those that God has called, Christ was and is something far different. You can turn on any religious service on Sunday morning, and there isn’t any lack of these religious people telling us that Christ “died” for our sins.
The question is – what exactly does that mean? Is that all there is? What did the death of Jesus Christ really do? Is it possible that there could be more to it all than we have realized? In fact, the death of Christ has far more impact than even modern Christianity has understood.
Notice Hebrews 5:8-11, “Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, Called by God as High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek. Of whom we have much to say; and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing”.
Now this word dull from the Greek is No-Thros which means sluggish, lazy, stupid or slothful. This word No-Thros is a derivative from another Greek word Nothuos and that word means a spurious or illegitimate son. So we can see that Christ’s death is crucial for our life.
Now to really understand or grasp the meaning of Jesus’ death we first must ask: “Who was Jesus Christ”? Was He simply a good person? Or was He something far greater?
To understand just who Christ was; let’s let the Bible tell us: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among (or tabernacled) among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1: 1, 14).
Before His human birth, Jesus Christ was a member of the God Family. He was known as the Word. He became flesh and lived a human life, a life without sin.
“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:14-15).
Jesus Christ died a horrible death by crucifixion, after enduring a brutal beating. You can read about some of it in Matthew 27: 25-50.
Now the religious people and even Christ’s disciples thought that was the end of Him. After Christ’s death, Peter said he was going fishing. But after three days and three nights in a tomb, God resurrected Christ, transformed from death to living spirit, to join His Father as a born-again member of the God Family.
“Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand. By which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures and that he was buried, and that He rose again the third-day according to the Scriptures” (I Cor. 15:1-4).
What happened next, the doubting disciples became Apostles and believers, and the New Testament Church of God began. Now, having said that, let’s consider the benefits of the sacrifice of Christ. Let’s grasp what His death means to us.
In Romans 3:23 and 6:23 we read that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and the penalty of sin is eternal death.
Question: Is there a way for us to avoid this penalty? Can you and I be justified? Now, one thing is for sure, there is no way for us to justify ourselves. The penalty for sin cannot be erased or forgotten. And that includes even if we keep God’s law perfectly from now on, which we can not do, the death penalty for our past sins remains.
“Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:20). So what hope do we have? How can we be forgiven? Paul tells us: “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren that through this Man (Jesus Christ) is preached to you the forgiveness of sins: and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the Law of Moses” (Acts 13:38-39).
The question is – how is this possible? How can Christ justify us? Again the Apostle Paul gives us the answer: “For He (God the Father) made Him (Christ) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (II Cor. 5:21). Jesus Christ lived a perfect life so he could bear our sin by shedding His blood on the stake.
“Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His (Christ’s) own blood. He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the Living God” (Heb. 9:1-14).
In other words, it is the blood of Jesus Christ representing His death that pays the penalty for our sins. It reconciles us to God and eliminates the need for us to pay the penalty of our own sins, and as we all know it is eternal death.
Besides paying this eternal penalty, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ also made possible the end of a temporal penalty, through the healing of our bodies in this life. Jesus Christ was viciously beaten before being put to death, and because His body was broken, we may be healed of physical illnesses and afflictions.
“Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness, by whose stripes you were healed” (I Peter 2:24). Christ’s sacrifice made it possible for us to live as Christ lived.
Now, before Christ died, He promised to make the Holy Spirit available to those God would call. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26). So, on the day of Pentecost Christ-- at the beginning of the New Testament Church – Christ fulfilled this promise.
“Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear” (Acts 2:33).
What those people saw and heard was a power that began to transform the carnal minds of Christ’s disciples into spiritual minds, enabling them to take on the very nature of Jesus Christ. This is why Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ,” Paul accepted Christ’s sacrifice and way of life so his carnal nature would no longer control him.
“Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin”. Paul continued: “It is no longer I who lives, but Christ lives in me through the Holy Spirit dwelling in him” (Gal. 2:20).
What a great blessing God has given us; we have the chance to have the character of Christ developed in us by the presence of the Holy Spirit in our minds.
When we feel discouraged, when life is unjust, do we consider the death of Christ? Do we look to Him for encouragement? If we don’t, we should. No other examples can have such a positive effect:
“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls” (Heb. 12:2-3).
In other words; the way Jesus Christ responded to His tormentors should help us control our urge to strike back in anger. It should lead us to trust God, not our carnal responses.
“For to this you were called (what is Peter talking about), because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps; (what steps) who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth. Who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously” (I Peter 2:21-23).
Jesus Christ died for us, and because of that selfless act, we can understand true love and be motivated to express it. “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (I John 3:16).
Having this powerful example before our very eyes can put our life in proper perspective and help us radiate right attitudes. Christ dying for us qualified Him to be our heavenly High Priest. Christ now sits at the right hand of His Father listening to our prayers, intervening on our behalf as we go before God.
Christ knows what life in the flesh is like, and is willing to explain to God with firsthand knowledge, the trials we suffer, and the sins we struggle with. Notice what Christ said before His death:
“And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name he will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:23-24).
Now, let’s think about what we just read – because of the death of Jesus Christ, we have access to God the Father, in which no one else in the world, unless called by God does. Actually, most of the world ignores God the Father (This is because of the false doctrine of the Trinity.)
Not only do we have access to God, but we also have a High Priest who feels for our problems and intervenes for us: “ We have not a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).
This should motivate us to seek contact with God and receive the blessings He can give us through answered prayer. The ultimate benefit of the death of Jesus Christ is life! Because Christ was resurrected we can gain entrance into eternal life through Him.
Jesus Christ is alive today at the right hand of God the Father. Christ is in the process of saving those who the Father calls: “For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Rom. 5:10).
Through death Christ gained eternal life. And that same life will be imparted to all those who serve God: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive but each one in his own order; Christ the firstfruits, afterwards those who are Christ’s at His coming” (I Cor. 15:22-23).
This process of salvation will ultimately be extended to all humanity and bring billions into the God Family. We must not forget, even though salvation is a gift, we must obey God’s laws. God will have no one in His Kingdom who refuses to obey Him. And those who teach otherwise are wrong. They simply ignore what the Bible plainly says:
“He who says, I know Him, and does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whosever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know we are in him” (I John 2:4-5).
Where would you and I be without the sacrifice of Jesus Christ? Would we have means of justification, would we be miraculously healed of sickness? Would we, as a mere human, be able to build godly character? Would we have a perfect example to follow? Would we have access to God the Father? Could we be born into God’s Family? In each case, the answer is no! But in Christ the answer is yes. We can have all these benefits.
The cross (stake), symbolizing His death and all it means, is a symbol of glory, not shame: “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world had been crucified unto me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14).
Now as we focus on Jesus Christ for what He did, we must not forget or overlook God the Father, remember Jesus didn’t forget Him: “My Father is greater than I” (John 14:28). The Father is in supreme authority in the government of God, and in carrying out the plan of God (If you would like to learn more about The Plan of God enroll today in our new series “God’s Master Plan”).
We need to think about Christ, talk about Him, be like Him in every way (Eph. 4:13).Let Christ’s sacrifice motivate us to emulate Him in every way – as the Apostle Paul said “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21).