Summary: “But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that bought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed. We all like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has l
Theme: The passion and death of Christ
Text: Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Heb. 4:14-16, 5:7a; Lk. 23:26-41
The entire message of the Gospel revolves around one unique historical event: the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the Cross at Calvary. It was sacrificial in every sense of the word as it involved the offer of God’s only Son in a most cruel and painful way. It was a sacrifice that went far beyond the sacrifice of Abraham who was ready to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac to the Lord. Abraham’s sacrifice showed certain similarities with the sacrifice of Christ. Isaac carried the wood for his own sacrifice up the mountain although they went with two servants. As a young man he could easily have resisted, yet he willingly accepted to be the sacrifice. After demonstrating his total commitment to God by his readiness to sacrifice his son God did not require such a price from Abraham and instead provided a ram for the sacrifice. In the case of His own Son, Jesus Christ, who also carried his own cross and was hang between two thieves, God could not provide a substitute because there was no one who could take His place. As in Isaac’s case, Jesus could have resisted. He could have declined to come into the world in the first place, and He could have resisted the cross. But He did not and God made the greatest sacrifice in the history of the universe because of His love for us. God’s sacrifice cost Him all that He had – it cost Him His only begotten Son. A single sovereign act of God brought together all the guilt and the suffering of humanity and offered one all sufficient solution. However, to receive God’s all sufficient solution we must all make our way to the same place: the cross of Jesus Christ. The passion and death of Christ was God’s chosen way of salvation planned from the beginning of the world to deal with every person’s sin, suffering and sorrow.
The cross has a different meaning for different people. According to Paul it is a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles. To the unbelieving Jew it is inconceivable that the Messiah, the Son of God, should die ‘on a tree’, that is under the curse of God. To the unbelieving Gentile it is ridiculous to suppose that a god, one who is immortal, should die. The cross is in reality the only way for Christ to accomplish His mission of redemption and it is the power of God to believers. Jesus had to be nailed to it and pour out His blood to deal with sin and its consequences to reunite God with man. Paul, the author of most of the New Testament, initially could not understand why the early believers would believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah because according to his understanding of the Scriptures being hung on a tree - that is on a cross - meant to be under the curse of God. He was so zealous for what he perceived to be the truth that he persecuted and killed those who believed that Jesus Christ, a cursed person, was God. But his life was radically changed when he understood clearly the reason why Jesus was made a curse. Do we understand that Jesus Christ became a curse because of us, because of you and me? Do we understand that Jesus Christ became a curse because He took our sin upon Himself? This was what was portrayed in the Old Testament by the sin offering. A person who had sinned was required to bring his sacrificial offering, a sheep, a goat, a bull or some other animal to the priest. He would confess his sin over the offering, and the priest would symbolically transfer the sin he had confessed from the person to the animal that would then be killed to pay the penalty for the sin. This was designed to foreshadow what was to be accomplished by the single, all sufficient sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. The cross, therefore, deals with the universal problem of all humanity, our rebellion against God. In Christ’s suffering and death, however, He bore more than our sins. If the penalty for sin is death then why did Christ have to suffer as He did to provide atonement? Isaiah tells us why He suffered. He suffered to bear our grief’s and sorrows, and He suffered for our peace and healing. Surely atonement for sin is our greatest need, yet God, sending His Son to suffer and die, provided more than an escape from judgement. He provided for our abundant life. Jesus had to take our place and endure all the evil consequences that were due by divine justice to our sin. It was the only way for God to offer us forgiveness without compromising His own eternal justice. If we have any need or problem in our life, there is only one place to go to find God’s provision or solution – it is to the cross of Jesus Christ.