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Intro: This morning we noticed the miracles associated with the crucifixion of Christ. We mentioned 4 supernatural events. Some lists include more than 4. John MacArthur count Jesus’ death itself on the list, because Jesus did not die a natural death, he gave up His spirit. He has a point.
But the preaching of the apostles spends little time on the physical events or even the miracles we mentioned this morning. What did the apostles preach about the crucifixion of Jesus?
They spoke about the supernatural consequences of the event. They answered the question, Why?
How did the apostles describe the cross of Jesus?
I. Jesus Died to fulfill God’s Plan – John 19:30 30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. John gives us two interesting insights into this event in this one verse.
A. Jesus gave up His spirit – no one took it from Him. He died when He was ready to die.
B. When He died something was finished. – completed. Jesus death was part of a plan. His death did not cut short his plans (like ours will) but it completed His plan.
C. Peter stated that Jesus, as our sacrificial lamb, was foreordained before the foundation of the world. 1 Peter 1:18-20 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you. Rev 13:8 identifies Jesus as ….the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
D. Turn to Isaiah 53 – this passage stands alone in its extensive description of the sacrifice of Jesus as the lamb of God. Isa 53:7-9 7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken. 9 And they made His grave with the wicked — But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth.
1. But the O.T. description went beyond just the fact of His death. It revealed the purpose of God in this event. Isa 53:6 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. V. 10 – Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. V. 12 Because He poured out His soul unto death,
2. The resurrected Jesus spoke about the O.T. foreshadowing of His death to the disciples on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24 – “slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Ought not Christ to have suffered..?”
3. Paul defended himself before King Agrippa by proclaiming that he had not spoken anything that the prophets of the Jews had not already revealed. Acts 26:22-23 22 Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come — 23 that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.” When Jesus died on Calvary an eternal purpose was finished or accomplished.
II. Redemption: The apostles described the effect of the cross as a redemption. In that it is declared that the death of Christ paid a spiritual price we could not pay. In a conceptual sense it was what we “owed” God. Even if we could begin today and live apart from sin we could not restore the perfect life that we stained with our past sins. Only the pure, unstained life of Jesus could do that. Rom. 8:14 says that Jesus’ death fulfilled the “righteous requirement of the law” in us. Paul told Titus in Titus 2:14 that Christ died to redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a special people…
A. In Hebrews Jesus was both the Priest who offered the sacrifice and the sacrifice that was offered. Heb 9:12-14 – 12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
B. In this context, God’s willingness to justify the guilty sinner through the propitiatory death of Jesus is what identifies our salvation as “by grace”. Unlike the sacrifices of the O.T., We provide nothing. God provides every element of our atonement. Rom 3:24-26 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
1. Consider a meaningful word used by the apostle Paul concerning the design of the death of Jesus – 1 Timothy 2:6 – “who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time,” The word ransom antilutron) here is compound word that indicates a price paid for a life or the release of a prisoner of slave. We are enslaved by the guilt of our past sins. We cannot release ourselves from actual guilt. The prefix to the word (anti – instead of) indicates that the vicarious nature of the ransom. Jesus was the ransom for others – Isaiah predicted…”Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried;…He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed” (Isa 53:4-5). It is interesting that Jesus used the same root word for ransom in Matthew 20:28 & Mark 10:45 – 5 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
a. Paul says the ransom was enough for the release of “all”. Does this mean that all sinners will be released from sin? Jesus said not many would be saved. H.E. Vines interprets Paul’s statement thus…”gave Himself a ransom for all,” indicates that the “ransom” was provisionally universal, while being of a vicarious character. Thus the three passages consistently show that while the provision was universal, for Christ died for all men, yet it is actual for those only who accept God’s conditions, and who are described in the Gospel statements as “the many.” The giving of His life was the giving of His entire person, and while His death under divine judgment was alone expiatory, it cannot be dissociated from the character of His life which, being sinless, gave virtue to His death and was a testimony to the fact that His death must be of a vicarious nature. (from Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words)
b. Consider this… If the number of sinners on earth were increased by a billion, Jesus would not have to provide any more than He provided by His solitary death. Yet if I were the only sinner of all of human history, it would take that same death to pay for my release from sin.
III. Forgiveness –As the death of Jesus constituted a ransom, it also provided the power for the individual forgiveness of our sins. The cross provided for both our past and future justification. Ephesians 1:7 – 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.
A. Thus the death of Jesus (spoken of in scripture as the effects of His Blood) is a continuing source of forgiveness. 1 John 1:7 – 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
B. The biblical description of this forgiveness is of a cleansing. Again we are reminded of the O.T. prefigure of the ceremonial cleansing of the tabernacle elements and the priests. As we read in Heb. 9, the blood of Jesus cleanses our conscience to serve the living God. None of the blood offered under the first covenant could cleanse one sin. But Jesus became the Mediator of a new covenant by the means of death (Heb. 9:15), and thus we can be cleansed. Revelation 1:5 5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, – What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus
IV. Reconciliation: The power of sin is the power of separation & alienation. When Adam and Eve chose to sin it ended in their separation from their garden and their God. The visual depiction of salvation in Revelation ends with a scene of restoration to the garden of God in the new city of God where God dwells with His people again. Salvation is reconciliation. Rev 21:3 – 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. Biblically speaking sin is the opposite of peace and unity. Paul told the Romans that the God of peace would crush Satan under their feet.
A. The blood of Jesus is the source of heavenly reconciliation. – Col 1:19-22 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. 21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight – But the spiritual reconciliation between God and man by the removal of sin was not all the cross provided. It also provided the basis for the unity of all men.
B. The blood of Christ is the source of an earthly reconciliation – Eph 2:14-18 – 14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. Jesus died for all men – therefore His death is a declaration of our mutual need for His sacrifice. All are saved by grace through faith.
V. Life: Ironically the apostolic view of the death of Jesus on the cross is a proclamation of life. Jesus Died to Give Us Life – Jesus Himself died to live again. His death presupposed His resurrection. It was not possible that death could keep Him. Acts 2:23-24 23 Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; 24 whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.
A. What seemed to be Satan’s finest hour was His greatest defeat. Heb 2:14-15 14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
B. Those who come to Christ in baptism share in the power of Jesus’ resurrection.Rom 6:4-5 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,
C. Paul personally applied Jesus’ crucifixion to himself. He claimed a solidarity with the event – Gal 2:20 – 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; 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 6:14 – But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. This is the spiritual side of the cross – it is more than a tragic historical event. It is the source of all that God provides for the sinner. The power of the event is accessed today through faith, and my identification with Christ in His death –
- Rom 6:3-7 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 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 of sin.7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.
Conclusion: There is one other word that is consistently applied by apostolic preaching to the event of the crucifixion of Jesus.
- Love: the why of the cross. Jesus did all of this because He loved us.
- Romans 5:6-8 – For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
- 1 John 3:16 – 16 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.
- 1 John 4:9-10 – In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.