Meditations on the Death of Christ (1)
The death of Jesus Christ, the incarnate God-man, is the most important event in human history. It is for this reason it holds the central place in Christian theology. It sits at the heart of every Christian sermon (1 Cor 1:23). The crucifixion of the Son of God should occupy the mind, the heart, and the life of those who have received the benefits of this glorious work of our Triune God.
We learn of Jesus Christ and His sacrificial death from Him, who paid our debt of sin with His precious blood. It is Christ’s voice who preaches, and Christ, the Word of God, who is preached to us. God is declaring what God has done.
The Bible is the revelation of God about who God is and what God has done (Rom 11:36). When Adam and Eve lost paradise (Gen 3), they lost the true knowledge of God, but God did not forsake the people He chose to save before creation (Eph 1:4–5). Man’s fall into sin, however, created a separation between God and man.
God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (2 Cor 5:19), and He did what was necessary to close the gap of separation, resulting from sin. The justice of God, in alignment with all His perfections, required satisfaction. An infinite debt required an infinite payment of infinite value. No man could cover this debt for himself, let alone the debt of another. Every possible payment for atonement fell infinitely short of what justice demanded.
Jesus paid it all, in His atoning death, for all the sins of God’s beloved, elect people. His unblemished sacrificial offering of Himself, once for all His people, once for all their sins, was accepted by God, the Judge of all. The perfect God-man, lived the perfect sinless life, and then offered the perfect sacrifice, as the perfect Lamb of God, a perfect scapegoat for His people.
God’s love, God’s justice, and God’s mercy are all there at Calvary. The redeemed people of God rejoice in the mercy and grace shown to them; while those who do not believe in Jesus, scoff at such a story. To them, Jesus was probably a good man, who did good works, taught some good wisdom, and was unjustly treated in His trial and public execution. The death of Christ has too much in it for the unregenerate to seek for understanding. Guilty sinners have no interest in the Savior’s blood.
Those, however, who God the Spirit has caused to be born again of God see the kingdom of God (Jn 3:3; 1 Pet 1:3), and they seek first the kingdom of God (Lk 12:31), having entered this spiritual kingdom (Rom 14:6), not of this world. They have joy in Jesus and His salvation. They love Him, even though they have not yet seen Him. They delight in His promise that they will soon see Him face to face.
Jesus Christ died in the place of these humble saints, who revel in His imputed righteousness, by which they boldly approach the throne of God, a throne of grace for them. When Jesus took their imputed sin and suffered on their behalf, He was setting them free from captivity to sin and Satan, having made a public spectacle of the devil at the cross.
As the Holy Spirit indwells, abides, fills, and lives as Christ in the ones He has given Himself to, they walk by the Spirit in newness of life, a life of faith in Christ, who makes them witnesses to the uttermost part of the earth.
The witness is personal, “I have died with Christ, been buried in baptism, raised with Christ in the Spirit, and I am seated with Christ in the heavenlies (Rom 6; Eph 2:6).” His substitutionary death has made this new life a reality, and it is eternal life for those who believe the Word of truth — the Word of Christ, from the voice of Christ, preaching Christ and Him crucified…a tale of death worth telling, for all He has accomplished in it. The redeemed of the Lord say so.
Spokane Valley, Washington
August 28, 2021