Christ Himself did not say so much about His death. He was making the sacrifice; He left to others the privilege of explaining it. For two thousand years now the church has been glorying in His cross and exploring its wondrous meaning.
God did not demand that we first demonstrate our allegiance to Him before Christ would agree to die in our place. To demand that we somehow show ourselves deserving of forgiveness in order to regain our status as His children would have been futile. What can ungodly, rebellious sinners offer God that would move the holy Creator of the universe to sacrifice His only Son on their behalf? So God acted first, motivated solely by his own sovereign love, to grant mercy to His people as the ultimate expression of His grace (Ex. 33:19; Isa. 63:7; Rom. 9:15-18; Eph. 2:4; Titus 3:5; 1 Pet. 1:3). Christ died for us because the Father and the Son loved the unlovable.
The real and true work of Christ’s passion is to make man conformable to Christ, so that man’s conscience is tormented by his sins in like measure as Christ was pitiably tormented in body and soul by our sins.
Christ died not in order to make God love us, but because He did love His people. Calvary is the supreme demonstration of Divine love. Whenever you are tempted to doubt the love of God, Christian reader, go back to Calvary.
The supreme example of controlling, directing influence which God exerts upon the wicked is the Cross of Christ with all its attendant circumstances. If ever the superintending providence of God was witnessed, it was there. From all eternity God had predestined every detail of that event of all events. Nothing was left to chance or the caprice of man. God had decreed when and where and how His blessed Son was to die… Not a thing occurred except as God had ordained, and all that He had ordained took place exactly as He purposed.
Gospellers have much to say about what Christ’s death accomplished for those who believe in Him, but very little is said about what that Death accomplished Godwards. The fact is that the death of Christ glorified God if never a single sinner had been saved by virtue of it.
God is not content to leave all people under His wrath. Nor can he simply sweep sin under the rug of the universe. Therefore His love and His justice conspire to make a way for sinners to be saved and God’s justice to be vindicated. The answer is the death of Jesus Christ.
The Bible says Judas delivered Him over (Mark 3:19), and Pilate delivered Him over (Mark 15:15), and Herod and the Jewish people and the Gentiles delivered Him over (Acts 4:27-28), and we delivered Him over (1 Corinthians 15:3; Galatians 1:4; 1 Peter 2:24). It even says Jesus delivered Himself over (John 10:17; 19:30). But Paul said the ultimate thing (in Romans 8:32a). In and behind and beneath and through all these human deliverings, God was delivering His Son to death. “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all.” In Judas and Pilate and Herod and Jewish crowds and Gentile soldiers and our sin and Jesus’ lamblike submission, God delivered over His Son (for our salvation). Nothing greater has ever happened.
The gruesome death of the all-glorious, innocent, loving Son of God for my sin is the most radical indictment of my hopeless condition imaginable. The crucifixion of Jesus is the open display of my hellish nature.
The purpose of Jesus’ death was to glorify the Father. To be willing as the Son of God to suffer the loss of so much glory Himself in order to repair the injury done to God’s glory by our sin showed how infinitely valuable the glory of God is. To be sure, the death of Christ also shows God’s love for us. But we are not at the center.
We all admire and adore the baby Jesus born in the manger, but what we must mainly admire and adore is the Man on the cross – the fact that Jesus was born ultimately to die. He didn’t die because the Jews and Romans finally we able to put an end to this supposed troublemaker. He didn’t die because God wanted to show us an example of commitment to a cause or how to pay the definitive sacrifice or how to demonstrate humility or show love that is willing to suffer for friends. In a sense these are all true, but the ultimate reason Jesus died on the cross is because that was His primary mission to take away the sins of the world. 1 Peter 2:24, “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross.”
I find myself frequently depressed – perhaps more so than any other person here. And I find no better cure for that depression than to trust in the Lord with all my heart, and seek to realize afresh the power of the peace-speaking blood of Jesus, and His infinite love in dying upon the cross to put away all my transgressions.
I do implore you, do not look upon the sacrifice of Christ as an act of mere vengeance on the Father’s part. Never imagine, oh! never indulge the idea, that Jesus died to make the Father complacent towards us. Oh, no, dear friends: Jesus’ death is the effect of overwhelming and infinite love on the Father’s part; and every blow which wounds, every infliction which occasions sorrow, and every pang which rends his heart, speaks of the Father’s love as much as the joy, the everlasting triumph, which now surrounds His head.
A person’s life is his most precious possession. Consequently, to rob him of it is the greatest sin we can commit against him, while to give one’s own life on his behalf is the greatest possible expression of love for him (1 Jn. 3:16). This, then, is the ultimate contrast: Cain’s hatred issued in murder, Christ’s love (issued) in self-sacrifice.
The death of Jesus Christ is not the end of the story; it is the theme of the story – beginning to end.