Monday, October 09, 2017

What Really Happened When Jesus Died?

This is one of the biggest questions of all. What sort of answer you would give? The Christian faith centres on Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection. It was he who died on that cross outside the old city of Jerusalem, and it is he who, three days later, God raised up, never to die again. To be brief, here is an answer is one verse from 2 Corinthians 5:21, 'for our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.' Let's unpack these words.
The apostle Paul wants to make sure the Christians at Corinth understand why Jesus died - and I don't mean the medical reasons, like loss of blood, or because Pilate, the Roman Governor, gave in to the crowd - yes, those are some of the outward circumstances. But here in a few words, we see God's purpose in Jesus' death. The identity of Jesus and what he accomplished by his death are of supreme importance.
Here we learn that God the Father placed his own Son in an awful position, not against Jesus' will, for he went freely to the cross. But that God did this to achieve something, that otherwise would never have happened. At the cross: two most amazing things took place: God 'made him to be sin'.
The first few words describe how God treated his own beloved Son as he died for sinners and carried their condemnation. Jesus was made to 'be sin'. That doesn't mean he was made to do something sinful - never. But he was made an offering for sin, a sacrifice, to endure God's holy wrath against sin. Jesus was willingly treated as a condemned sinner by God his Father.
In one sense these are terrible and shocking words, to see that this is happening to heaven's best - the eternal Son, who is the express likeness of the Father's glory - through whom God the Father made all things - but here also is glory - here is love 'vast as the ocean'! God so loved that he gave his only Son.
And the second expression about he 'who knew no sin' is God's estimate of the moral character of his Son, the Lord Jesus, as he offers himself to bear sin's judgement. These words mean no sin ever entered his heart or mind - his human nature was not tainted by any sin. He was sinless and morally righteous. This is a vital qualification of the one Saviour of sinners - that he was not one of them himself.
In these words we learn that God's action in Jesus' death was on behalf of others. We have seen that Jesus died, offering himself to pay the punishment for sin. Now we see how it is that we may be saved from God's just judgement of our sins. For whom did Jesus die? -For other's sins. He had none. The words are clear - Jesus died 'for our sake'.
He died for all of God's children - all of the people of God-given faith in both OT times and in this present age, from Jesus' resurrection right up until he comes again. That is all who turn in repentance and faith in him, all who are born of his Spirit - a huge number beyond counting. Many must still come - maybe you will be one of them. All are enabled to say 'he loved me and gave himself for me!'
Now this is important; while Jesus' death is sufficient for endless worlds of sinners, it is effective in saving only those who repent of their sin and turn and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. These become 'new creations in Christ', and are 'reconciled to God'. Make sure you seek the Lord and his great salvation!
These words are the result of Jesus who knew no sin being made sin for our sake - do you see the 'so that'? All who in are in this new position 'in him', become 'the righteousness of God'.
This is a wonderful blessing received by all who are 'in Christ' and 'new creations' (2 Cor. 5:17). This is how God now views all who trust in his Son. You see, if Jesus was treated as a sinner and carried the judgement we deserved, our sins were put to his account and he paid by dying for them, so we might go free. But there is more; this is why I said this righteousness is a wonderful blessing. For Jesus was not only without sin, he also kept God's law perfectly; he was perfectly righteous in God's sight. Now, as well as our sins being put to Jesus' account, HIS perfect righteousness is put to our account! This is a double blessing.
Jesus pays the great penalty we deserve for being sinners, and as if that wasn't enough, in his resurrection, he puts his righteousness to our account. This is the gift of right standing with God, a position in God's sight that we receive by being 'in Christ'.
So, in answer to the big question about what happened when Jesus died - he was made sin for us, so that we might receive the 'righteousness of God' and receive a perfectly acceptable right-standing with God. Salvation is a gift - he not only bears the penalty of sins, he also places his positive righteousness to the account of all who will turn to him!
Make sure you not only know the answer, but that you receive the free gift of salvation offered to all.

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