Thursday, April 1, 2010

Why did Jesus have to Die?

Jesus had an amazingly productive ministry, teaching and healing thousands. He attracted large crowds and had potential for much more. He could have healed thousands more by traveling to the Jews and gentiles who lived in other areas.
But Jesus allowed this work to come to a sudden end. He could have avoided arrest, but he chose to die instead of expanding his ministry. Although his teachings were important, he had come not just to teach, but also to die — and he accomplished more in his death than in his life.
Death was Jesus’ most important ministry. This is the way we remember him, through the cross as a symbol of Christianity or through the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper. Our Savior is a Savior who died.
For the transgression of my people he was stricken.... Though he had done no violence ... it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer ... the Lord makes his life a guilt offering.... He will bear their iniquities.... He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors (verses 4-12).
The Jewish leaders probably thought that Jesus’ disciples would give up after their leader was killed. And it happened just as they hoped — the crucifixion shattered the disciples’ hopes. They were dejected and said, “We had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21). But their hopes were dramatically restored when Jesus appeared to them after his resurrection, and at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit filled them with new conviction to proclaim salvation in Jesus Christ. They had unshakable faith in the least likely hero: a crucified Messiah.
Peter told the Jewish leaders, “The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead—whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree” (Acts 5:30). By using the word tree, Peter reminded the leaders of the curse of crucifixion. But the shame was not on Jesus, he said—it was on the people who crucified him. God had blessed him because he did not deserve the curse he suffered. God had reversed the stigma.
Paul referred to the same curse in Galatians 3:13: “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.’” Jesus became a curse on our behalf so we could escape the curse of the law. He became something he was not, so that we could become something we were not. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor¬inthians 5:21).
He became sin for us, so that we might be declared righteous through him. Because he suffered what we deserved, he redeemed us from the curse or penalty of the law. “The punishment that brought us peace was upon him.” Because he suffered the penalty, we can enjoy peace with God.
Some have said that Jesus died to pay the legal demands of his Father—but it can also be said that the Father himself is the one who paid the price, by sending his Son for this very purpose (John 3:16; Romans 5:8). In Christ God absorbed the penalty himself, so that we did not have to. “By the grace of God he might taste death for everyone” (Hebrews 2:9).
Christianity is not a list of things to do—it is faith that Christ has done everything we need to be right with God—and he did it on the cross. “When we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son” (Romans 5:10). God reconciled the universe through Christ, “making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” (Colossians 1:20). If we are reconciled through him, all our sins are forgiven (verse 22)—reconciliation, forgiveness and justifica¬tion all mean the same thing: peace with God.
What looked like a shameful death for Jesus was actually a glorious triumph for God’s plan, because it is through the cross that Jesus won victory over enemy powers, including Satan, sin and death. Their claim on us has been fully satisfied in the death of the innocent victim. They cannot demand any more than what he has already paid. They have nothing further to threaten us with.
“By his death,” we are told, Jesus was able to “destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14). “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (1 John 3:8). Victory was won on the cross.

Peace and love,

"Be still and know that I am God"(Psalm 46:10)

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