More than 19 centuries 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?
To the arrogant and merciless Roman soldiers, He was just another criminal. To the pious and hypocritical religious leaders, He was a threat that had to be eliminated.
But to those of us who are called by God, He was and is something far different!
Today you hear a lot about the sacrifice of Christ. There is no lack of churches telling you that He ‘DIED FOR YOUR SINS.’
But what, exactly does that mean? Is that all there is? What did the death of Christ really do? Could there be more to it all than you have realized?
The death of Jesus Christ has far more impact than even most professing Christians have understood (Heb. 5:8-11)! It has crucial significance for your life!
To grasp the meaning of the death of Jesus Christ, let’s begin by asking: Who was Jesus Christ? Was He simply a good person? Or was He something far greater?
The apostle John makes it clear: “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 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 was a member of the God Family. He was known as “the Word” (1 Joh 1:1). He became flesh and lived a perfect life – a life without sin (Heb. 4:14-15). He then died a horrible death by crucifixion, after enduring a brutal beating (Matt. 27:26, 35, 50).
But after three days and three nights in a tomb, He was resurrected – transformed from a dead human being to living spirit – to join His Father as a born-again member of the God Family (I Cor. 15:3-4).
Soon His doubting disciples became believing apostles, and the New Testament Church of God began.
With this in mind, let’s consider the benefits of the sacrifice of Christ. Let’s grasp what His death means to us.
God says that all have sinned, and that the wages of sin is death (Rom. 3:23; 6:23). Is there a way for us to avoid this penalty? Can we be justified?
Clearly, there is no way for us to justify ourselves. The penalty for sin cannot be erased or forgotten. Even if we keep God’s law perfectly from now on – which we can’t – the death penalty for our past sins remains (Rom. 3:20).
So what hope do we have? How can we be forgiven? Listen to these inspiring words: “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)
But how is this possible? How can Christ justify us? Here is 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 lived a perfect life so He could bear our sins by shedding His blood on the cross (stake): “Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His (Jesus Christ’s) own blood (shed on the cross –stake). 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. 9:12, 14)?
So it is the blood of 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 sins, which is eternal death!
Besides paying this eternal penalty, the sacrifice of Christ also made possible the end of a temporal penalty, through the healing of our bodies in this life. Christ was viciously beaten before being crucified. Because His body was broken we may be healed of physical illnesses and afflictions (I Peter 2:24).
Through His sacrifice, Christ made it possible for us to live as He lived. Before He died, he promised to make the Holy Spirit available to those God would call (John 14:26).
On Pentecost, at the beginning of the new Testament Church, He 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.
As Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ (he accepted Christ’s sacrifice and way of life so his carnal nature would no longer control him – see Romans 6:6): it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me (through the Holy Spirit dwelling in him – see Romans 8:9-11); and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).
What a wonderful blessing! We have the chance to have the character of Christ develop in us by the presence of the Holy Spirit in our minds.
When you feel discouraged, when life is unjust, do you consider the sacrifice of Jesus Christ? Do you look to Him for encouragement?
You should! No other example 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 sat 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).
The way Jesus responded to His tormentors should help you control your urge to strike back in anger. It should lead you to trust God, not your carnal responses (I Peter 2:21-23). Jesus Christ died for you. Because of that unselfish act, you can understand true love and be motivated to express it (I John 3:16)
By dying for you, Christ qualified to be your heavenly High Priest. He now sits at God the Father’s right hand, listening to your prayers, intervening on your behalf as you go before God. He knows what life in the flesh is like, and is willing to explain to God with first hand knowledge the trials you suffer, the sins you struggle against.
Before His death, Jesus said: “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).
Think about that: Because of the death of Christ, you have access to God the Father. No one else in the world, unless called by God, does! Actually, most of the world ignores God the Father.
Not only do you have access to God, you also have a High Priest who feels for your problems and intervenes for you: “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.4:15).
Knowing this ought to motivate you to seek contact with God and receive the blessings He can give you through answered prayer.
The ultimate benefit of the death of Christ is life! Consider that: Because He was resurrected; you can gain entrance into eternal life through Him. He is alive today at the right hand of God the Father, and 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, Jesus gained eternal life. That same eternal life will be imparted to all those who serve God (I Cor. 15:22-23). This process of salvation will ultimately extend to all humanity and bring billions into the God Family.
But make no mistake, even though salvation is a gift (Eph. 2:8), you must obey God’s law. God will have no one in His Kingdom who refuses to obey Him. Those who teach otherwise are wrong. They ignore what the Bible plainly says (I John 2:4-5).
Think about it: Where would you be without Christ’s sacrifice? Would you have a means of justification? Would you be miraculously healed of your sickness? Would you, as a mere human, be able to build Godly character? Would you have a perfect example to follow? Would you have access to God the Father? Could you be born into God’s Family?
In each case, the answer is no! But in Christ, each answer is yes. Yes, you can have all these wonderful benefits!
Continually focus your attention on Jesus Christ. His cross, symbolizing His death and all it means, is a symbol of glory, not shame (Gal. 6:14).
But as you focus on Christ, don’t make the mistake so many millions today make by overlooking God the Father, Jesus didn’t. He stated: “My Father is greater than I” (John 14:28). God the Father is in supreme authority in the government of God, and in carrying out the plan of God.
Think about Christ. Talk about Christ. Act like Christ. Be like Him in every way (Eph. 4:13). If you are ashamed of Him, He will be ashamed of you (Mark 8:38).
Take the time to devote much thought and thanksgiving toward Christ’s sacrifice, commemorated by the Passover (I Cor. 11:23-26). Let Christ’s tremendous sacrifice motivate you to emulate Him in every way. As Paul said: “For to me, to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21)!