As we mark another season of Easter, it is important that we take time to reflect on why He died. Not why in the sense of cause, but why in the sense of purpose. The former leads to no good because we would only end with a blame game: “Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed” (Acts 4:27). The latter will lead us to who actually killed Jesus and why: “They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen” (Acts 4:28). God planned the death of Jesus and accomplished it by the hands of wicked men. What was His purpose in killing His only begotten Son? What benefits do we get from His death? That is the purpose of these meditations. While I have highlighted a few, it is my prayer that your heart will be stirred in this season to think, apprehend, and live in the reality of the blessings of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
1. TO BEAR GOD’S WRATH FOR SIN
The Bible is clear that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). What is the response of a Holy God to sin? “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men” (Rom. 1:18). Jesus came and delivered us from the curse of the law that we all have broken. Gal. 3:13 says ‘Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”’ The death that our sins deserved, Jesus took our place and died for us. In this way, He fulfilled the righteous demand of God’s wrath against sinful humanity.
2. TO BECOME A RANSOM FOR MANY
In Jesus’ own words: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mk. 10: 45). A ransom is a consideration paid or demanded for the release of someone or something from captivity. Because we broke God’s laws, we owed a debt. Jesus offered himself to God whom we had sinned against to ransom us from the condemnation of God. As the Son of Man, a mortal, he could die. And he died, giving His life for many. As many as believe in Him are freed because of His ransom.
3. TO RECONCILE YOU TO GOD
“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behaviour. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation” (Col.1:21-22). You were separated from God, an alien to him, an enemy. Those are strong words. The scripture however says “But now”. What has happened? God has restored friendship between you and him because of the death of Christ.
4. TO WIPE OUT THE DAMNING EVIDENCE OF BROKEN LAWS AND COMMANDMENTS
“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code, with its regulations that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross” (Col. 2:13-14). We could never hope to be made right with God by keeping his commandments. One, we can’t. We do not possess what it takes; we break the law of man, what more the law of God. We can’t get to a point where we have kept the law and hope to receive a pass mark for compliance. Two, our acts of righteousness are filthy before him. Someone has said “There is no salvation by balancing the records. There is only salvation by cancelling records.” And cancel the records did Christ accomplish. He has “utterly wiped out the damning evidence of broken laws and commandments which always hung over our heads, and has completely annulled it by nailing it over his own head on the cross” (Col. 2:14, Phillips).
5. TO DISARM THE POWERS AND AUTHORITIES
“And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Col.2:15). The powers and authorities referred to here are Satan and his cohorts. Satan is the accuser of God’s people. What arms did they have to use against us? It was the list of God’s laws and commandments that we had broken. Christ took that away, nailing it to the cross. That was how he disarmed them. Therefore, if God’s law no longer condemns us because Christ cancelled our debt, then Satan has no grounds to accuse us. “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies” (Rom. 8:33).
6. TO DEMONSTRATE HIS LOVE FOR US
“And live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph. 5:2).
We are familiar with Jn. 3:16 that talks about how God loved the world and gave his only son to die for us. The death of Christ does not only demonstrate the love of God, it also is a demonstration of Christ’s own love for us. That’s why he went to the cross. He didn’t die only because the Father asked him to; he died because he himself loved us. He said of his life: “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord” (Jn. 10:18). The Apostle Paul understood that Christ loved him when he wrote that “I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal.2:20).
7. TO SET US FREE FROM SIN
“To him who loved us and has freed us from our sins by his blood” (Rev. 1:5). Sin both makes us guilty before God and binds us with chains to continue doing its bidding. That is slavery. Jesus emphatically said “everyone who sins is a slave to sin” (Jn. 8:34). When you do the things you’d rather not do, and you are unable to do the things you desire to, it shows you are a slave (Rom. 7:14-25). No one can muster a willpower that is potent enough to break free from the bondage of sin. To make matters worse, the sinful mind desires the things that are hostile to God. Our only hope is in a power beyond ourselves. Christ’s death sets us free. And if the Son sets you free then you will be free indeed (Jn. 8:36).
8. TO MAKE US RIGHTEOUS
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). At least two great things happened according to this verse. Firstly, God took our sin and imputed it to Christ. He died on the cross as the consequence and became our pardon. Secondly, in Christ, we become the righteousness of God. That means the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us and he became our perfection. His complete obedience to the father by death, even death on the cross, was the height of his obedience. By his obedience, many will be made righteous. This righteousness is not “of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith” (Phil.3:9).
9. TO GUARANTEE OUR RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD
“If we died with him, we will also live with him” (2 Tim. 2:11). Death didn’t have the final word on Christ, he arose. On the day of Pentecost, Peter told the crowd: “But God raised him from the dead … because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him” (Acts 2:24). Because he lives, we will live. His resurrection guarantees that. He himself has declared thus: “I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades” (Rev. 1:18). He who holds the keys is our saviour. His death and resurrection were for us. He is the resurrection and the life (Jn. 11:25). “By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also” (1 Cor. 6:14).
10. TO TEAR DOWN RACISM
“You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:26-28). Racial and ethnic segregation, prejudice and demeaning attitudes have been around for long. The woman at the well raised that when Jesus asked for water to drink. Peter displayed this in Antioch when certain men came from James. Prior to their arrival, he ate together with the Gentiles but withdrew when they came. Paul was unambiguous in his rebuke: “They were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel” (Gal. 2:14). Hear this: Racism and ethnic discrimination is a gospel issue. The very walls that Jesus had died to tear down, Peter was rebuilding. All your biases, segregations, seclusions and prejudices based on race are contrary to the gospel. In Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek. Bring down those walls in your heart this Easter.