The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ (Christianity Explained Part 2) – by Brady Tarr
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.“
Historically, it is a fact that Jesus Christ was murdered on a cross, but why is his death on the cross an essential component of the Christian gospel, and what did the death of Christ accomplish?
Well, it is impossible to understand the meaning of the crucifixion and its importance unless we understand what sin is and what the consequences of sin are.If a person understands sin and the consequences of sin, he/she will understand his/her need for salvation.If a person does not understand the doctrine of sin, then they will not see any need for salvation from the wrath of God.When we share the gospel with people, the first thing that we must explain and try to make sure they understand is what sin is, that they are a sinner (Rom. 3:23), and what the consequences of their sin is before the holy and just God of the Bible.
So, what is sin?First, sin is something that every single person who has ever existed (except Jesus) is guilty of (Rom. 3:9-18, 23).The Bible says that sin is disobedience to God’s moral law, the commands that he has given mankind which define what is right and wrong.We must understand that God’s moral law is a universal and absolute moral law which applies to every person who has ever existed.No matter whether they live in the united states in a remote jungle tribe…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23).This biblical truth should compel us to do at least three things: 1) do missions at home and abroad by sharing the gospel, 2) support missions in whatever way we can, and 3) pray for those all across the world who do missions and for those who need the gospel.
When the Bible reminds us (if we need the reminding!) that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of god, we must understand that this disobedience to God includes not doing things we should, as well as doing things we shouldn’t.It’s important to note that sin is not simply about the big, outward infractions like lying, stealing, or murdering, but sin also includes wrong motives, lust, unbiblical anger, etc.Sin is more fundamentally about the very state or attitude of our heart in relation to God.
How should we see our sin in relation to God?Scripture teaches that sin is rebellion against God. This rebellion can be expressed in our attitudes, in our thoughts, in our words, or in our deeds.Psalm 51 explains that all sin is against God: “For I know my transgressions and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.” Sin can directly impact those around us, but we must humbly understand that our sin is first and foremost against our righteous God!The problem for all sinners is that even if we can “successfully” hide our sin from a boss, an employee, the government, a husband, or a wife, it is impossible for us to hide our sin from the one true God who is all knowing.
The Bible teaches that sin is a personal violation against God and against His holiness.And because God is holy and just, He must punish sin.We, as sinners, are deserving of this punishment.Just like we earn our deserved monetary wages at the end of a long day of work, the wages that a person’s sin earns him/her is death (Rom. 6:23a).And the implication of all this is that we have a desperate need.We need something that we are unable to earn through our works or effort (Eph. 2:8-9).We need God’s pardon from his terrible and eternal wrath that our sin has earned us.God’s pardon occurs when God declares us to be righteous in his sight and gives us the gifts of faith (Eph. 2:8-9) and repentance (Acts 5:31).
When a sinner is forgiven, it is a work of God which he accomplished through the perfect (sinless) sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ who was and is fully God and fully man.Jesus accomplished the salvation through Jesus Christ because Jesus died in the place (or as the substitute) for all those who would receive his gifts of faith and repentance.
Let’s look very briefly at some passages from Mark’s gospel which will help us understand the significance of what took place on the cross.
Mark 15:33 – Darkness – When Jesus was being crucified, it was the middle of the day, but darkness came over the whole land likely symbolizing God’s judgment falling on the land and people.
Mark 15:34-37 – Jesus Cries Out to God From the Cross Jesus says, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”This is remarkable because Jesus was the Son of God.He was the Holy One of God.He had done no sin.He had a perfect relationship of love and obedience to God the Father.And yet here He suffers “God-forsakenness.”He experiences the terrible wrath of God that is deserved by sinners.
Here we have Jesus fulfilling the purpose for which He came to earth.Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into the world and took on flesh in order to bear the burden and punishment of our own sin.He, who had no sin, took upon Himself the penalty of sin and died as a substitute for everyone who would trust in Him.God substituted Jesus, and Jesus willingly gave His own life, so that sinners could be forgiven and not bear the punishment we deserve.This forgiveness isn’t automatically conferred to anyone, but only to those who repent of their sin and put their faith, or trust, in Christ’s substitution for them.When a sinner is forgiven, it is a work of God which he accomplished through the perfect (sinless) sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ who was and is fully God and fully man.
Mark 15:38-39 – Tearing of Temple Curtain
But now we see in the Gospel of Mark, that when Jesus dies, this curtain, which represented the separation between God and sinful people, is miraculously torn in two from top to bottom (not the natural way a curtain would tear), and therefore we see that by his death, Jesus has provided free, unhindered access for sinful people to a Holy God.He did that once, and now Christ is our sacrifice (there is no longer a need for the sacrificial system of the Old Covenant) because he bore the ultimate consequence of sin (eternal separation from God in hell) for all those who would repent of their sin and put their faith in Him.
Mark 10:45 – Jesus Paid Our Ransom
Before we end, let’s look at one last verse in which Jesus states in his own words why he came.Jesus says that he came not to be served, but to serve and give His life as a “ransom.”What is a ransom? A ransom represents a payment to claim something or someone who has been lost, captured or enslaved.
The Bible tells us that all people apart from Christ are slaves to sin (Rom. 6:15-23).We are in bondage and held captive by sin in that:
- We can’t overcome our sinful hearts and our sinful behavior by ourselves.
- There is no way for us to escape the penalty of our sin in and of ourselves.There is nothing we can do ourselves to make up for our offenses against God (Eph. 2:8-9).There is a debt that we cannot pay.
But in Mark 10:45, Jesus says that he came in order to pay the price we could not pay.And by his death on the cross, he is therefore able to free us from our slavery to sin.He himself is our ransom.And notice that he did so willingly.He gave His life as a ransom.He wasn’t constrained, or forced onto the cross against his will.He laid down His life of his own accord.This was the greatest possible act of love that has been accomplished.
With a spirit of repentance and faith, have you laid down your life as a follower of Christ?If you have, who do you know that needs to hear about the hope that you have in the person and work of Jesus Christ?Pray with me for the Lord to give us all a boldness to love others (family and friends) more than ourselves by sharing the gospel with them…no matter how they respond to your love for them.
This six part series was developed from Christianity Explained Evangelism course: