THE DEATH OF CHRIST
There is an element of the death of Christ that should have us pause for lack of understanding;
We have already spoken of Jesus being God manifest in the flesh, he is God, not “like God”, not ‘ a god’, but God himself.
We have seen how Jesus himself testified to this in his own declarations; to the woman at the well, to Phillip who sought for the father, to the blind man seeking Christ, to the pharisees who questioned him.
We witnessed the behaviour of the jews concerning him, desiring to stone him to death for he “being a man, makest thyself God” they said, this they did several times. The belief he committed blasphemy for claiming he is God was the very reason they put him on the cross, all this testified to his own claim.
We spoke of Jesus being Preeminent, before all things.
We saw him Pre-eminent By Motion, that is, he was “specifically Promised” to come and to be both for and above all.
We recognised him as Pre-eminent by Merrit, not just by a noble birth (born as a king), but he earned his preeminence in all that he did and said.
We saw him Pre-eminent In Majesty, he was greater than all. The men of Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonas, the Queen of the south came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, but Christ is greater, greater also than all the prophets that went before him.
And finally Pre-eminent In Might, Jesus and Jesus alone is the Saviour of the world, only Christ can rescue man from the punishment of his sin, none other are given such might, such power, Christ alone is pre-eminent.
Last time we also spoke of him as The Son of David,
We dealt with The Incarnation of Christ, how it was that a child would be born, a son would be given, who’s “name shall be called” even “The mighty God, The everlasting Father” (Isa 9:6). And so we asked the question “What Think Ye of Christ? Whose son is he?”.
The challenge Jesus gave to the Pharisees was your challenge.
Promised to come through a virgin birth; we looked at the ancient prophecies concerning him, and see indeed that this is Emanuel, which being interpreted is God with us (Matt 1:23).
We were astounded as to how the only two Gospel accounts that present a genealogy of Christ, were also the only ones that referred to him as “The Son of David”, but were strangely dramatically different in their respective genealogical record after they came to King David.
Wonderfully the Lord led us to understand why, as we discovered that incredible blood curse pronounced on the line of David just before the final King of Judah (Jechonia) was taken into captivity, “write ye this man childless” said the passage of that final King, “for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah” (Jer 22:28-30).
In this we witnessed the genius of the Lord, that though the Virgin birth, Jesus could be both of the LEGAL and ROYAL line of David through Solomon and down through his adoptive father Joseph, BUT ALSO of the BLOOD LINE of David through Nathan, the second son of Bathsheba down to Mary.
Due to the Virgin Birth, we saw that Jesus is the ONLY PERSON in History that could indeed be both the Son of David, AND the RIGHTFUL king of Israel, and that ONLY through the Incarnation.
But now we do come to a challenge;
It is about the death of Christ, the death of God the Son, the death of he who is Pre-eminent, the death of the one born to be the King of Israel…. and it should indeed be a challenge, no rest should be given until we can understand WHY?
Why ought Christ to die? This question should trouble us and so too should our response.
The people who followed Jesus were perplexed when he spoke of himself being “lifted up”, (‘Crucified’), who asked,
34 …. We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? …”
There is no doubt that the sufferings and death of Christ is spoken of in the Old Testament, but how is it that he is also spoken of as reigning for ever?
On the Emaus rd when he appeared to those two disciples walking after his resurrection, they had not recognised him because the Bible says “their eyes were holden” (Lk 24:16), Jesus however chastised them saying;
“…O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: 26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?”
Why was his death necessary and how ought we to respond?
Ought, it’s a fascinating word ‘OUGHT’, it suggests something absolute, something that is not a matter of personal preference, but that which must be. It’s not a word that an atheist can rightfully use, because, again, it suggests an absolute standard of purpose.
“Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?
How “Ought” we to respond?
This not a suggestive question, its not one based on a personal preference, you cant use the word when choosing what flavour gelato you like, “which flavour ought I like best?” Doesn’t really work does it?
There was a purpose for the death of Christ just as there was for his Incarnation, for his Pre-eminence, for our knowledge that he is “God manifest in the flesh” , and that purpose ends at our response.
How OUGHT we to respond? What is the eternal value of the choice/s we make concerning the death of Christ?
The Death of Christ is Purposeful
Turn in your Bibles to Isaiah 53
It is difficult not to read the chapter in its entirety, so incredible is what it says concerning Christ, concerning this “servant” of the Lord that begins late in the chapter before it. But we will restrict ourselves to verses 4 to 10 as it provides evidence enough for the claim that “THE DEATH OF CHRIST IS PURPOSEFUL”.
700 years before the child that is born and the son that is given, this ancient text was written, consider its clarity;
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. 9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
Do you see in the text the purpose for the death of Christ? So plain that it would take a determined effort to miss it;
From the first line;
“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows…”
This can ONLY make sense in the light of Christ as GOD manifest in the flesh, it only makes sense that there is no other that can attend to this.
Jesus is Pre-eminent, and it is clear that for him to do so he must have himself taken on flesh, he must have been indeed Incarnate, God must have become man to bear both the griefs and sorrows of man.
All we have studied before come back to this!
We are a “movie-going” culture, and the best movies are those that make you feel like you are there, they make you feel as if you are laughing with those who are laughing, crying with those crying and even sometimes burdened by the sorrows of those showing to be burdened.
The lighting, the tone, the music, the silence, all of it designed to perfectly draw you in to make the experience almost VICARIOUS.
That is, you experiencing the experience of the individual.
But no matter how much we might feel the suffering of a character on the set, or feel the suffering of a loved one, or experience the same pain they experience from time to time, NONE OF US CAN SUFFER IN THEIR PLACE, none of us can bear their griefs so they don’t have to bear it, none of us can carry their sorrows to the extent they are comforted….
But that is what Jesus did!
That is precisely what the text tells us;
Look at verse 5;
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
The greatest grief we have is our sin, the greatest sorrow we have is the guilt of sin, the greatest consequence to sin is the punishment of its transgression.
O you may say for just a moment that sin not your greatest grief nor your greatest sorrow, but let me tell you that crushing your conscience for your sin builds up its consequence like the inflating of a ball to bursting.
The more you ignore or excuse your actions, the more air is pumped into the ball, and time is NOT your friend. If you do not suffer the consequence gradually (a little leaking in the ball), you will store that air until the threat of it bursting is frightening, AND imminent;
I received a game a few years ago where a ballon is placed in a bracket and each player takes it in turn to push his rod in a click or two against the balloon. The game ends when the balloon bursts. But the anticipation of its imminency is what scares us most.
How much more with sin?
5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; 6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds:
But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself
That word, that refers to “treasuring up” is sin in storage!
Each is as a puff of air in the ball, or better still, a grain of gun powder awaiting ignition!
It is the hardness of our hearts that store it up and it will be “bitterness in the latter end”.
But the passage in Isaiah does not stop there, look at verse 6
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Our griefs our sorrows, our transgressions and iniquities are LAID ON HIM!
O that you might see the purpose of his death!! That the word of God might speak to your heart today and see the greatness of what was done for you;
10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
The vicarious death of Christ had him die OUR DEATH, and therefore we CAN LIVE!
Do you see the purpose of his death?
Will you believe it was done for you?
The Death of Christ is Propitious
What does Propitious mean? It means that Christ died to provide all that was necessary to satisfy the judgement we were to otherwise to receive. Ill explain it more as we go.
Turn to Romans 3
This is a passage that seems difficult to understand on the surface, but when the text is clear it provides for you the greatest joy in understanding why Jesus died and what it accomplished;
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
First of all the passage admits to that which we all already know, “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”, you would be a fool indeed to not recognise this in yourself.
But the text goes on to declare those who have believed the gospel are “justified freely by his grace”, in other words, NOTHING MORE IS NEEDED TO BE DONE TO SAVE YOU, you are justified ‘FREELY’; what is the cost to something that is free to the possessor?
Yes indeed, someone had to pay, but not the one to whom it is “freely given”. The next portion of verse 24 tells us who paid;
“…Justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus”, clearly, it was JESUS who paid that which you receive “freely”, and given to you because of all your good works? No! “By his grace”. But how can this be?
Now we come to subject of this second point; The Death of Christ being PROPITIOUS;
25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood,..
A very rare five syllable word in the Bible, 12 letters six of which are vowels, and yet it is the ONLY word that can perfectly describe what Jesus Christ PROVIDED for you and I to be redeemed.
There are over 200 synonyms found to help with a definition of this word;
Placation, Appeasement, pacification, reparation, conciliation etc
Sometimes the antonyms are helpful, the opposite words are words such as;
Provocation, aggravation, antagonism, exacerbation etc
In short, Propitiation means that the fullest appeasement of the wrath of God was satisfied and settled, nothing more being required.
In other words, the shedding of the blood of Christ fully settled the wrath of God for the sins of mankind through faith.
Turn to 1 John
1 John 2:1–2
1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
Jesus Christ is our advocate before God the father; we sin but because we have believed the gospel, the PROVISION Christ made for our sin, keeps us free of condemnation; His Death is Propitious!
Notice; “he is the propitiation for our sins:”
That is why the Bible says in Romans 8 that “we are more than conqueror through him that loved us” (v37), in fact, the passage in Romans goes on in astonishment …turn there and take a look;
31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. 34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
What else is needed beloved? The Death of Christ Provided for all we need,
The Death of Christ is Purposeful AND PROPITIOUS!
THE DEATH OF CHRIST IS POWERFUL
We can understand how it is possible, potentially, for one man to save himself. In fact we see the Bible speak to this in the Old Testament respecting temporal judgements; speaking of the famine and judgment to come upon Israel, Ezekiel wrote;
14 Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord GOD.
He confirms this in verse 20 of the same chapter saying;
20 Though Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver their own souls by their righteousness.
If it were possible for man to be perfectly righteous, he would have NO POWER TO SAVE ANYONE ELSE BY HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS. Though the text is speaking of the temporal judgment on Israel, it sets forth a logical consideration when it comes to the eternal.
No man could have the power to save any but himself if it were possible. And we don’t even have the power to do that.
The Bible teaches we “were dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:1), Colossians says;
13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
Dead men don’t have the power to save themselves let alone anyone else.
But The Death of Christ is Powerful to save the whole world.
If all the world today came to believe the Gospel, all the world would be saved! Nothing more is needed, the death of Christ was PURPOSEFUL, PROPITIOUS AND POWERFUL.
“GOD so loved the WORLD that he gave his only begotten Son, that WHOSOEVER beleiveth in him should not perish but have everlasting life”. His Death is Powerful enough to SAVE THE WORLD.
BUT That power also refers to KEEPING you to the END.
Remember, salvation speaks of the END of man, not his journey.
2 Timothy 1:12
12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
Christ “KEEPS” us to the end: turn to the gospel of John and hear it from the lips of Jesus himself;
39 And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. 40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
Look at the Lords prayer (the real Lords prayer) in John 17;
12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.
So plain we see the text and the power of Christ to keep those who are given him. Verse 20 confirms that it was not only the disciples Jesus was praying for, but also for those that believe hereafter;
20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
You and I and all those who believe this message and that gospel preached around the world, multiple generations down the line of them who believe on Christ through their word!
We are essentially held in the hands of Christ and kept, but not only Christ the Son, but also God the father.
Turn finally to;
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and my Father are one.
The Death of Christ is PURPOSEFUL, PROPITIOUS AND POWERFUL.
THE DEATH OF CHRIST IS PIVOTAL
30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
44 And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. 45 And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.
39 And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.
This is the most pivotal event in history.
The Old Testament and all its history culminate at this junction.
From hear-on everything changes, God is no longer the God of the Jews only, but has become the God of the gentiles also, and every where the world over the Gospel is preached.
Within only a few short years the world is left astounded by the speed with which the good news came.
It was not forced on mankind by the sword, it did not come by cohesion, not by mandate, but by love.
Men and women around the world gave up all their vain pursuits and followed after Christ.
They sold their goods and possessions for the purpose of the Gospel, they gave up all earthy goods to set their treasure in heaven and all the world heard of the wonder of Christ:
his death changed everything and his resurrection brought the hope the world needed.
In that first century the rulers of one of the largest metropolitan cities in Greece said “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; (Acts 17:6)”.
The events concerning Christ was pivotal, it “TURNED THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN”.
It marked a change in how God deals with a fallen world.
Paul testified to that when he wrote;
25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
Though the death of Christ was the greatest tragedy of all, the rejection of him by the Jews opened the opportunity of salvation to all the world.
And there is a fullness that is to come in, after which God will again open the blind eyes of his people Israel.
The Death of Christ is the Pivotal event marking the beginning of hope for the world.
Now you can’t even write a date on a piece of paper without reference to that point in history.
Every birthday has the death of Christ in view, every new years celebration marks his tomb, every business contract signifies how long ago it was that Christ died and every gentile saved is one more closer to their fullness being “come in”
O, they can change the referencing, but they can’t change the reality.
We live in the year 2023 since the death of Christ, we are in the Year of Our Lord, Anno Domani, A.D. more commonly referred to After Death.
The hinge of the door of all history swings upon that pivotal event.
But how else is the death of Christ Pivotal?
We see that his death is the Pivot of time, but Believing that Jesus Christ died for our sins is also the pivot of eternity.
You see each of you who have believed the Gospel of Christ have gone from death to life, you have, from that moment forward, become spiritually born! You have now ETERNAL LIFE.
When John the apostle wrote his letters, his purpose in 1 John was given at the end of the letter saying;
1 John 5:13
13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
The moment you believed the Gospel, the hinge of the door of history opened to the eternal, and “…neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 
If however that is not you, HOW OUGHT YOU TO RESPOND?
You have seen there was a PURPOSE for the Death of Christ.
You saw that it was PROPITIOUS, that made sense to you.
You can see that God is either to be satisfied with the provision made for you OR by his wrath poured out upon you. Your storage of wrath against the day of wrath like the compacting of gun powder in a keg that awaits only the immanent flame of your death, BUT Jesus death paid the price you would otherwise pay.
You recognise that his death is POWERFUL to save you to the uttermost if you come unto God by him. I love that passage in Hebrews 7:25
25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.
Today might be the most pivotal time in your life.
You’ve come to the point where a choice OUGHT to be made, and make no mistake that not making the choice to believe the Gospel is a choice.
My friends I do not need to plead for you to believe the Gospel, you are now dead in sin, you have no life in you, Jesus offers you life eternal, he died that you might live, it is a ‘take it or leave it’ choice, but mark my words, for some of you who hear this message, that choice will be pivotal.
To Those of you who have believed and have been GIVEN life eternal, THERE IS ONLY ONE APPLICATION, AND IT COMES IN THE FORM OF A QUESTION TO CONSIDER;
He gave his life for you, what are you giving him?