#790. WHY DID JESUS DIE? (11/4/23)
In light of the Easter season, I would like to draw attention to John Stott's book, ‘The Cross of Christ.; This essential piece of literature explores the significance of the cross in Christianity, delving into various aspects such as its importance in the Old and New Testaments, the challenge of forgiveness, the satisfaction of God, and the self-substitution of God. I strongly recommend reading this book, and I hope that these devotionals, which are based on its content, will motivate you to contemplate more deeply the centrality of the cross in our faith. Today's devotional is centred on chapter two, ‘Why Did Jesus Die?’
1. CHAPTER SUMMARY
Chapter 2, Why Did Christ Die? is broken down into its four sections:
1. The Roman soldiers and Pilate:
In this section, Stott discusses the role of the Roman soldiers and Pontius Pilate in the crucifixion of Jesus. He highlights the fact that although they were the ones who physically carried out the execution, they were not ultimately responsible for it. Instead, they were merely instruments in the hands of God, carrying out his plan of salvation.
2. The Jewish people and their priests:
Here, Stott examines the responsibility of the Jewish people and their religious leaders in Jesus' death. He argues that while they were certainly culpable, they too were not ultimately responsible, as their actions were also part of God's plan.
3. Judas Iscariot the traitor:
In this section, Stott looks at the role of Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus. He argues that while Judas was certainly responsible for his actions, he too was not ultimately to blame, as his betrayal was part of God's plan to bring about salvation.
4. Their sins and ours:
Finally, Stott explores the idea that it was the sins of all humanity that necessitated Jesus' death on the cross. He argues that our sinfulness has separated us from God, and that only through the sacrifice of Jesus can we be reconciled to him.
Throughout the chapter, Stott emphasises the idea that although many different people and factors played a role in Jesus' crucifixion, ultimately it was all part of God's plan to bring about our salvation. He reminds us that the cross is not a tragic accident, but rather the central event of human history, through which God demonstrates his love for us and makes a way for us to be saved.
‘Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.’ (Isaiah 53:10)
If you were to ask the average person about the reason for Jesus’ death my guess is that the main answer would be something around his being a martyr because he taught what was good. I don’t think that many would see Jesus’ death as being, principally, as a result of the will of God! This sounds outrageous!
Isaiah 53:10 speaks of the purpose of Christ's death, which is also the focus of Chapter 2 in John Stott's book, "The Cross of Christ."
In the chapter, Stott discusses the different players involved in Jesus' death - the Roman soldiers, Pilate, the Jewish people and their priests, and Judas Iscariot. However, Stott makes it clear that it was ultimately God's will that Jesus be crucified, not the actions of any human being.
Isaiah 53:10 affirms this truth. It was God's will to crush Jesus, to put him to grief, and to make him an offering for guilt. This was not an accident, but a deliberate plan. Why would God do this? The verse goes on to say that through Christ's death, he would see his offspring and prolong his days. In other words, through his sacrificial death, Jesus would bring new life and hope to many.
As we reflect on this passage and Stott's teaching, we are reminded that the death of Jesus was not in vain. It was not simply a tragic event, but a purposeful act of love and sacrifice. Through his death, we can find forgiveness, hope, and new life. It is through the cross that we are reconciled to God and can experience the fullness of his love.
Let us then approach the cross with reverence and gratitude, knowing that it was through the death of Jesus that we have been saved. May we never take for granted the immense love and grace that God has shown to us through Christ.