Summary: When we read the four Gospel accounts of the Life of Christ we try to think what it might have been like to have lived during the time of Christ. We know that Jesus was arrested and condemned to die on the cross, but we have a hard time picturing the suf

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Why did Jesus Die on the Cross?

Isaiah 53:1-9

When we read the four Gospel accounts of the Life of Christ we try to think what it might have been like to have lived during the time of Christ. We know that Jesus was arrested and condemned to die on the cross, but we have a hard time picturing the suffering and agony Jesus went through in our behalf.

In a sense that’s what producer Mel Gibson has done in his new film The Passion of the Christ. He allows you to be there and watch the final hours of the life of our Lord. The movie begins in the Garden of Gethsemane and traces what happens as Jesus is arrested, tried, flogged, and crucified. It ends with his lifeless body being taken down from the cross and a brief glance at the resurrection.

The introduction to the movie contains some familiar words from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah in chapter 53. Isaiah is called the messianic prophet because he wrote so much about the Messiah who was to come. Messiah is a Hebrew word that means “the anointed of God.” In the New Testament the same word rendered in the Greek is the title Christ. Christ also means “the anointed of God.” Messiah and Christ are actually synonyms.

On a television interview Mel Gibson said he began thinking about the Cross some 12 years ago, and the more he thought about it, the more powerful it became. He said, “I believed it; believed all of it, but at a certain point it became real.” A devout practicing Catholic, Gibson became convinced that this generation of filmgoers has no understanding of the suffering Christ who willingly endured suffering because of his love for us.

Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ is an action movie more stunning than any fictionalized fantasy. It is true. It happened. The film is not for the weak in heart. The sufferings of Christ are brutal.

The Rev. Billy Graham had a private screening with Gibson and said he was "moved to tears." Graham added, "It is our sins" that caused Jesus’ death, "not any particular group."

Have you ever been in a situation where you were unfairly accused? Has anyone ever said anything about you that was untrue? Have you ever found yourself in a situation in which another person took advantage of you or used you for their own personal gain? What is the natural and ordinary human response? We clench our fists. Our mind is suddenly filled with all kinds of sordid images in which we imagine ourselves performing unmentionable creative acts of retaliation. We look for ways to get even, committing ourselves to doing whatever is necessary to bring the offender down. We want to play the role of the enforcer.

That is precisely what makes the Passion of Jesus so incredible. Isaiah reminds us that during his final twelve hours on earth in which he was publicly embarrassed and personally humiliated, he restrained himself from responding in any sort of retaliatory way.

“He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7) Jesus had at his command ten thousand angels, but he willingly bore our sins and interceded for sinners in his last breath.

The New Testament quotes more from Isaiah than all the other prophets combined, with an amazing 308 references in the various New Testament books. For example, John quotes Isaiah in chapter 12 of his gospel and then adds this commentary, “Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him” (verse 41 ).

When one reads verses in the bible like Isaiah 53 it’s almost as though Isaiah was an eye witness to the flogging and the crucifixion . . . that he was there. But understand that time-wise, Isaiah’s long ministry was roughly 700 years prior to that of Jesus. Seven centuries separate them.

In the face of God’s love we chose to disobey God and to make self our No. 1 concern. “All of us have strayed like sheep. We have left God’s paths to follow our own” (Isaiah 53: 6, NLT). And the difference this has made in our personal world has been catastrophic.

So, in this movie, as you watch Jesus whipped, one awful blow after another, as you see him brutalized, bleeding profusely, and in terrible pain, then shamefully presented to the screaming mob that still clamors for his death, as you feel the sharp pain when the crown of thorns is pressed into his head, and then close your eyes or bodily recoil as the nails are driven into his hands and feet—bring to mind Isaiah’s words from this chapter: “We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord has laid on him the guilt and sin of us all” (verse 6, NLT). When you want to turn your head or close your eyes, instead keep watching and remind yourself that to God sin is a serious matter—deadly serious.

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