One of the most central doctrines of the Christ have to do with His cross and death. While there is nowhere near enough room to give this topic a just discussion, here are a few important teachings about it.
Absolutely necessary. One of the fist things that we should know about the cross and death of Jesus Christ is that it was absolutely necessary. There was no other way for God to save mankind. To many, this seems impossible: “Surely, there was some alternate means besides a bloody cross!” But again and again the Bible stresses the “only-ness” of Jesus’ suffering and death for the redemption of man.
- Matthew 26:39 “And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible (my emphasis), let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”” (and yet we know what happened)
- Luke 24:25, 26 “And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! “Was it not necessary (my emphasis), for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?””
To Satisfy Justice. Sin, wrongs we do to others and wrongs we do to God, must be punished. Otherwise, justice is never satisfied. And God has told mankind, since the beginning, that the wages of sin is death (Genesis 2:17 and Romans 6:23). The cross of Jesus is the satisfaction (atonement or propitiation) of the justice of God. 1 John 4:10 says, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” You may ask why.
To Be Our Substitution. To satisfy justice, the sinner must suffer death. Yet that is not what our merciful God has ever wanted for us. Instead, what God has mercifully done is provided a substitute. The blood sacrifices of ancient Israel always began by the offerer placing his hands on the head of the animal to be sacrificed, to indicate that this animal was in his place. Now the book of Hebrews tells us that the blood of bulls and goats could never really pay for our sins, for while the animals are innocent, they are not willing. Jesus’ substitutionary offering of Himself in our place, however, provided both an innocent and willing sacrifice. Jesus takes my place. 2 Corinthians 5:21 “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
Reconciliation. One of the outcomes of our sin is separation from God—just like an offense toward a friend or neighbor will estrange us from them. Separation from God (the source of life) is, in fact, the primary way in which we “die” in our sin. Unlike many human relationships, when an offense has occurred, God (the very One who has been offended) has actively sought to reconcile with us. Jesus’ cross and death is the means by which we are reconciled to God: 2 Corinthians 5:18, 19 “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”
Redemption. The idea of redemption is essentially to buy someone out of poverty or slavery. Christ’s death on the cross was the price by which we are freed from sin, Satan, and Hell itself. Galatians 3:13 “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us–for it is written, ‘CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE’–”
Salvation. Rescue came to mankind through the cross. Good works are not enough. Peter tells us (Acts 4:12) “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”