Thank you for listening to the Seeking the Lost radio program today. I'm Ron Hutchison, and I appreciate the opportunity to study the Bible with you. God has been good to us to spare our lives through the night and to permit us to study together from His word today.
[Some introductory remarks are omitted here]
I have entitled our lesson today, "Why Did Jesus Die?" This is an important subject. There have been billions of people who have died since Adam. Some have died very tragic deaths. Some of them have died unusually sad deaths, trying to save the lives of others. Many have died on the battle fields around the world. But when Jesus died, He did not die a natural death.
Jesus only lived thirty-three years on this earth, with three years dedicated to His personal work. His death was a very tragic death. When Pilate the Governor signed His death warrant, preparation began to be made immediately for His execution. There was a crown of thorns placed upon His head, which was a crown of mockery; and a purple robe was placed upon His body, which was a robe of mockery. He was scourged. After this scourging, He bore His cross as far as He could. The Bible says that when He could carry it no more, they compelled Simon of Cyrene to bear it.
I know that some people have the idea that Simon took one end of the cross and came behind Jesus. But I rather think that the passage literally means that our Lord carried the cross as far as He could. That was the way they had the prisoners do it in that day, and when He fell under the weight of the cross, it was placed upon Simon, who bore the cross the rest of the way.
They reached the place of execution, and the cross was laid on the ground. Jesus was stretched on it, and the nails were driven into His hands and feet. Then the cross was lifted up, and one end of it was dropped into the hole in the ground. No one knows the agony that would come as the nails would tear into His flesh, with the exception of one who had been crucified.
Now the fact that Jesus died is sometimes denied, but for those of us who believe the Bible we know that He died. In Romans 5:8 the Bible says, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Did Christ die for us? The Holy Spirit, through the Apostle Paul, said that He did. In Hebrews 2:9 the writer said, "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man." Did Jesus die? Well, the Hebrew writer certainly teaches that He did. For those who believe the Bible, there is no doubt that Jesus died.
When Jesus died, He died for everyone. However, the Bible teaches that there are conditions that all of us must meet in order that we might benefit from His death.
In John 6:51, Jesus makes an amazing statement: He said, "I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." Jesus is telling us that He had to die that we might live for ever. We should not think it strange that Jesus would have to die in order that we might live. We live every day on death and suffering. The bread that we eat is ours as a result of death. The grain had to have the very life crushed out of it that we might have bread to sustain life. The vegetables which we eat must die before they are suitable for food. The meat which we enjoy is ours as a result of the shedding of blood. The animals must shed their blood in order that we might have meat to sustain life. The furniture that we have in our homes is there as the result of death. The trees had to die and give their lives in order that the furniture might be made.
Why did Jesus die? The first thing I would suggest to you is that Jesus died for our sins. In 1 Corinthians 15:3 Paul said, "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures..." The death of Christ is one fact of the gospel. The word gospel literally means good news, but there is no good news in the mere fact that Jesus died. A lot of people have died, and there is no good news in it at all. But the fact that He died for our sins -- that makes it good news.
If somebody should tell you that they deposited a million dollars into a bank account in one of the banks in Murray yesterday, you might say, "well, so what?" There might be that much deposited there every day as far as you know. But if someone should tell you that the million dollars was deposited into your bank account, and then handed you the deposit slip to prove it, then that would be good news! Because then you could go to the bank and begin to use that money for your benefit.
So it is with the death of Christ. The blood of Christ was shed for the remission or forgiveness of sins. When Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper as recorded in Matthew 26:28 He said, "For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." The blood of Christ was deposited as it were in the Bank of Heaven, and I can draw on it and receive remission of sins. Now, of course, you know that I'm speaking figuratively. But that is somewhat the way it is. But, now, there are certain conditions whereby I will be able to receive the benefits of the blood, and if I do not comply with those conditions, then, of course, I will not be able to receive the benefits.
First, a person must have faith. In Acts 10:43 the Bible says, "To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins." No one receives remission of sins without faith in Christ. But a person must also repent, upon confession of Christ as Lord, and be baptized. Peter stated in Acts 2:38, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins..."
There was one occasion when a man named Saul of Tarsus was traveling on the road to Damascus and the Lord appeared to him. The Bible says, "and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest:" Up until to this point Saul did not believe in Jesus being the Messiah. He no doubt thought that the disciples of Jesus had come and had taken His body away while the guards were sleeping. Thus, the Lord told him, "I am Jesus whom thou persecutest." Saul evidently at that point begin to believe in Jesus as being the promised Messiah. The Bible says, "And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do." Saul was afraid and he was astonished. We can appreciate his astonishment because he was convinced up to this point that Jesus was an imposter. Saul had been persecuting the church. He had been arresting Christians and taking them to Damascus for either imprisonment or death. But He no longer believed what he did before Jesus appeared to him. He had now changed his mind. He had now repented. So, the Lord in answering his question said, "Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do." Saul went to the city, and he prayed and fasted. He prayed for three days and nights. At least he fasted that long, and prayer and fasting generally went along together. The Lord sent Ananias to him, and Ananias came to him and said as recorded in Acts 22:13-16, "Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him. And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard. And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." Yes, he had to be baptized that he might received the benefits of Jesus' blood. In Mark 16:15-16 Jesus said, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned." I want you to think about this: Every place in the Bible (and there is no exception to this rule) where baptism and salvation are mentioned together, without a single exception, salvation always follows baptism. I know there are some who listen to this program who say that baptism is not essential. But I would just ask you, if it is not essential then why does the Bible mention it at all? And why does salvation always follow baptism?
The Bible also makes clear that Jesus' blood continues to cleanse us after we are baptized. In 1 John 1:7 John wrote, "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." The word "cleanseth" in this passage is in the Greek present tense, which carries the idea of a continuous process. But there is a conditional clause here. It continues to cleanse us "if we walk in the light." To walk in the light is to walk according to the teaching of Jesus' word. It is to live a life that is in harmony with Jesus' will. Therefore Jesus died for our sins. He died to provide a cleansing for our sins.
This gives us the second reason that He died. He had to die to fulfill Scripture. The Scriptures would not have been fulfilled unless Jesus died. The way that Jesus was to die was foretold in prophecy. Had He been stoned to death, which was the way the Jews put people to death, then He would not have fulfilled Scripture and would not have been the promised Messiah. He had to be crucified. In Numbers chapter 21, the children of Israel were traveling to Mount Hor by way of the Red Sea. They had to go around the land of Edom. The people became very discouraged and began to murmur against God and against Moses, saying, "Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread." As a result of this rebellion, God sent fiery serpents among the people and many of the people died. Then the people came to Moses and said, "We have sinned, for we have spoken against Jehovah, and against thee; pray unto Jehovah, that he take away the serpents from us."
You know, people of that day were no different than people today. There are some people today who whenever death begins to get near, they want the Lord, and that's the way Israel was. They were dying. They wanted God to deliver them.
It reminds me of the story I heard about the man who was working on the roof of a three-story building. There was concrete at the bottom of this building. He started to slid off the roof, and he prayed, "Lord, help me. Please help me." He knew that if he fell three stories to the concrete below that he was probably going to die. But then a nail caught him and stopped his fall, and he said, "Never mind now, Lord. The nail's got me."
Isn't that the way people sometimes are? They want the Lord when they are about to die. But when the crisis is over they forget all about their promises. How many people make great promises to the Lord about being faithful to Him if He would just deliver them from whatever they may be facing at the time, and then forget all about the promise that they made when the crisis is over? The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 50:14, "Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High..." When you make a promise to the Lord, you better keep it. The Lord expects it.
So, God sent the fiery serpents among them, and they were biting the children of Israel, and many of them were dying. They wanted Moses to ask the Lord to take them away. God told Moses to make a serpent of brass, put it upon a pole, and when anyone was bitten and he looked on the serpent of brass, he would live. Moses did what God told him to do. Well, this is a type of the way Jesus was to die. In John 3:14-15 the Bible says, "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life." Jesus had to be lifted up on the cross just as the Bible said. Jesus had foretold His crucifixion in John 12:32. He said, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." Then verse 33 says, "This he said, signifying what death he should die."
Jesus, in Matthew 26:53-56 speaks of the fact that His death was a fulfillment of scripture when He said, "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me. But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled." Jesus had to die to fulfill Scripture. He had to die like the Old Testament passages said He would. The death of Jesus was not an afterthought. It was not a mistake as the dispensationalists like to tell us. Jesus came to this earth to die. He didn't come here to set up a literal throne in the city of Jerusalem. There are a lot of people who think that. They think Jesus is going to come back the second time and do what the Jews caused Him to postpone the first time He was here. They think He's going to reign on the literal throne of David in the literal city of Jerusalem for 1000 years. But the Bible says in Hebrews 8:4, "For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law..." Jesus could not be our high priest if He came back to this earth to reign in Jerusalem because the Hebrew writer said He can not be priest on this earth. In Zechariah 6:12 and 13 the prophet wrote, "And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh Jehovah of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of Jehovah: Even he shall build the temple of Jehovah; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both." I want you to notice a few things from this passage: First, it is clearly speaking of Jesus. The "Branch" shows that this is speaking of Jesus. I don't know of anyone who would deny that this is speaking of Jesus. Notice that it says He "shall sit and rule upon his throne" and "he shall be a priest on his throne." Zechariah shows that Jesus is going to be both king and priest at the same time. Yet the Hebrew writer shows that Jesus could not be priest on this earth. The only conclusion we can come to is that Jesus is both King and Priest in heaven where He now is. In fact, the Hebrew writer says in Hebrews 12:2, "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." Zechariah said that Jesus would sit and rule upon His throne. He said that He would be priest at the same time He would rule. But the Hebrew writer says that Jesus is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Jesus is King and Priest right now, and He rules on the throne from heaven.
When Jesus was on this earth, He made it clear that His kingdom was not of this world. In John 18:35, Jesus told Pilate, "My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence." Now if you believe that Jesus is going to come back to this earth and set up a physical, literal kingdom, then you find yourself in disagreement with Jesus Himself. Jesus clearly tells Pilate that His kingdom is not of this world. My friends, the kingdom of Christ is not a literal, physical kingdom like the kingdom of David was. It is a spiritual kingdom. It is in existence right now. And you can be a citizen of it now. You don't have to wait until He comes again to be in His kingdom. Christ's kingdom existed back in the first century in the days of Paul the Apostle. This is why he could write the Colossians and tell them in chapter one and verse thirteen, "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son..." The word "translated" means "to transfer." The Colossians and Paul himself had been translated into the kingdom of the Son of God in the first century! That means that the kingdom existed in the first century. It is not something we look to come during or after the 21st century. It is already in existence and you need to be a citizen of it.
The idea of Premillennialism or dispensationalism is this: When Jesus came the first time He came to establish a physical, earthly kingdom. He was to set upon the literal throne of David. But the Jews rejected Him, and the church was set up as a substitute for the kingdom until Jesus comes again. When He comes again, then He will set up His kingdom. My question would be this: If the Jews could prevent Jesus from setting up His kingdom the first time, then what is to prevent that from happening again? No. The fact is that the church is the kingdom. The fact is that Jesus never intended to establish an earthly kingdom. The fact is that you must be a citizen of His kingdom now. The fact is that Jesus is now reigning from heaven over His kingdom as both King and High Priest. If you take the view that we have to wait for Jesus to come before He can reign as King (which is a necessary conclusion if His kingdom has not been established) then you have taken the fact that Jesus is now King away. If you believe that Jesus is now our High Priest, since He cannot be priest on this earth, then you take His High Priesthood away when He comes to set up an earthly kingdom. This doctrine of Premillennialism or Dispensationalism takes both the Kingship and the High Priesthood away from Jesus Christ. Who can support such a theory?
My friends, the Bible is very clear that the death of Christ and the establishment of the church was in the eternal plan of God. In Acts 2, beginning with verse 22, when Peter was preaching on Pentecost day he said, "Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain..." Peter makes clear here that Jesus was delivered up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. The Jews did not prevent Jesus from carrying out His plans. On the contrary, they played right into the plan of God. Jesus came to this earth to be crucified and slain, not to set up an earthly kingdom. And the church, which is the kingdom, was in this eternal plan. Paul wrote in Ephesians 3:8-11, "Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord..." The fact that the manifold wisdom of God was to be made known by the church was in the eternal purpose of God. Thus, the church must have been in the eternal purpose of God. The church is not a substitute that God made for the kingdom because the Jews rejected Christ. The church is the kingdom and the kingdom is the church. And it is spiritual in nature, not physical. If you're looking for Jesus to establish an earthly kingdom when He comes back again, you're making the same mistake that the Jews made and that caused them to reject Jesus as the Messiah. Please don't make that same mistake.
Jesus died to fulfill the Scriptures, and His death was not an accident. It was not an afterthought with God. It had been planned from eternity, and it had been pictured in the sacrifices of the Old Testament. And that leads us to our next point: Jesus had to die to fulfill the Old Testament and to take it out of the way. In Hebrews 10:9 and 10 the Bible says, "Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." In Colossians 2:14-17 Paul wrote, "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come..." What is the handwriting of ordinances that was against us? It was the Old Law. Jesus took that Law out of the way when He died on the cross, thus nailing it to the cross. In Galatians 3:23 Paul wrote, "But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster." The schoolmaster is the Old Law. If we are no longer under a schoolmaster, that means we are no longer under the Old Law.
So Jesus took away the Old Law and became a mediator of a new and better covenant, and Hebrews 9 beginning with verse 15 says: "And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth." Jesus had to die in order for the New Testament to be in force, so He had to die in order to make a new and better covenant.
In Hebrews 12, beginning with verse 22 the Bible says, "But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel." You see, Jesus came to give us a new covenant, and without His death we would still be offering those bulls and goats which cannot take away the sins of the world. In Romans 7:1-7 Paul wrote, "Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter." Now the first husband represents the Old Law or the Old Covenant. The second husband represents the New Covenant. The wife represents the Jews. Paul says that while the first husband lives, while the Old Covenant is still in effect, the Jews were obligated to obey that husband or that law. But when that first husband died (when the Old Covenant was taken out of the way and nailed to the cross), then the Jews were free to be married to (or to follow) the second husband (the New Covenant). The Jews became dead to the Law by the body of Christ. In other words they became dead to the Law when Jesus died on the cross.
Now some would like to tell us that this is all about the ceremonial law, and had nothing to do with the Ten Commandments. But look at verse 7, "What shall we say then? is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet." Now what law said, "Thou shalt not covet?" It was the Ten Commandments. So Paul is telling us that all the Law was taken out of the way and nailed to the cross including the Ten Commandments. However, all of the Ten Commandments are repeated and even expanded on in the New Testament with the exception of one. And that is "remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy." We don't keep the Sabbath Day today, it was taken out of the way and nailed to the cross just as the rest of the Old Law was.
There are some other points that we would like to make today about why Jesus died on the cross, but we don't have time to go in to them. My friends, Jesus died on the cross to die for our sins, to fulfill Scripture and to take the Old Law out of the way.
We all need the forgiveness of sins. Paul wrote in Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." Jesus died to provide that forgiveness through His blood. If you desire that forgiveness, then you must obey the gospel, for as Paul wrote in Romans 1:16, it is the power of God unto salvation. In order to obey the gospel one must hear it. When one hears the gospel that is what produces faith (Romans 10:17). Faith leads one to turn from his sins (Luke 13:3) and to confess Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9-10). Then it leads him to be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). When one takes these steps, he is added to the church by the Lord Himself (Acts 2:47). He then becomes a citizen of the kingdom of Christ and looks forward to an eternal home in heaven.
Until the next time we are blessed to be together, it is our prayer that God will bless you as you seek to learn and do His will.