September 13, 2017
Why the Cross?
The Cross and Redemption from the Penalty of Sin
Matthew 1:21 & John 19:30 (NASB)
“You shall call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins.”
“It is finished.”
One of the greatest joys in life is for new parents to name their baby girl or baby boy. Why did your parents name you the way they did? Have you ever noticed that Jesus parents did NOT name Him? Names in the Bible are given because of their meaning. For example, after God entered in a covenant with Abram (Genesis 17:5), God changed Abram’s name to Abra H am. A portion of God’s name (YawHeh) was given to Abram. So too, after Jacob wrestled with God, his name was changed to Israel, which means, “I have striven with God and been saved.” Jesus name in Hebrew is Yehushua (Joshua) and means “God will save His people.” Jesus came to save His people from what? From our sins?
To save us “from” our sins means He saves us from the penalty, power and presence of our sins. In this lesson, we will see how Jesus saves us from the penalty of sin – which is the curse of death itself.
Sin is defined as “missing the mark, or falling short, or transgressing a boundary.” God tells us how to live, and when we miss the mark, fall short, or transgress the boundary, then we sin. Jesus came to save His people from their sins. How does He do it? If you fast forward in Jesus’ life you find that He died at the age of 33. “No man takes my life from Me, but I lay it down of my own power.” (John 10:18). Jesus died on the cross to deliver you from the penalty of your sins (death). One of the last statements before He died was an utterance of one word: Tetelestai
In English this word is translated – “It is finished.” What is finished? Answer: Saving His people.
This word tetelestai was written on business documents or receipts in New Testament times to show indicating that a bill had been paid in full. You and I owed a debt (death) to God, and Jesus paid it in full.
- You can pay for your sins if you desire, but that means you will die.
- The evidence Jesus paid your debt is that you are unafraid to claim the receipt (the cross).
- If by faith you claim the payment Christ made for you, then you’ll stop living in bondage.
- The only way you will live free from your sin is to first how God freed you from your sin.
Could Jesus have died any other way? Could He have died by simple aging? Could He have died by drowning? Could He have died by any other way other than the cross? No. So why the cross?
Though I don’t hunt much, I do know there are many ways to kill a deer. There are also many ways to kill a man – by hanging, with the sword, stoning, drowning, etc... We celebrate Easter this morning by asking the simple question why did Jesus die on a cross?
- The cross is prophesied in Scripture as God’s means of redemption. (see Gal.3:13).
Peter said the prophets “testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ” (I Peter 1:11). Paul said to Agrippa in Caesarea “I say none other than those things which Moses and the prophets said should come, that Christ should suffer” (Acts 26:22). I have a book in my library written in 1728 by John Gill entitled The Prophecies of the Old Testament Respecting the Messiah Considered; and Proved to be Literally Fulfilled in Jesus. Gill looks at several passages from the O.T. and shows specific prophecies.
- Christ would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (Zech. 11:12).
- Christ would be forsaken by his disciples (Zech. 13:7),
- Christ would be and beaten and scourged (Micah 5:1).
- Christ would die on a cross (Ps. 22),
- Christ would be numbered among thieves (Is.53:12).
- Christ garments would be parted (Ps. 22:18).
- Christ would be given vinegar to drink (Ps. 69:21).
- Christ’s bones would not be broken (Ps. 34:20).
- Christ would die in public shame before men (Ps. 22:13).
- Christ would die abandoned by God (Psalm 22:1).
- The cross is God’s symbol of the curse of sin, which is death.
Galatians 3:13 is a quotation from God’s law to the Jewish nation given Moses’ time (Deut. 21:22-23). A Jewish man worthy of death is to be hanged on a tree. This is not the western Gunsmoke form of hanging, but the Jewish hanging of crucifixion. “They fix a beam in the earth, and a piece of wood goes out of it (near the top of it) and hang him; the hands are spread, and one hand is fastened to the one part of the cross-beam, and the other to the other end” (Jewish Rabbi Jarchi) as quoted by Gill. The person hanged on a tree in the Old Testament pictured a person “cut off” from God. This cursed person is hanged to demonstrate to others he is cursed by God (which is death). Throughout the centuries Jews have mocked Jesus calling him, “he who is hanged.” He who is “accursed of God.”
- The cross becomes God’s curse for us and thus I’m “redeemed” (my sentence is paid).
Have you broken the law of God? Are you worthy of the condemnation of God? Are you “cut off” from God, or abandoned by Him? Does the venom of sin flow through you? Sinners have only one hope – only one escape – from God’s wrath. We are in the same predicament the children of Israel were in thousands of years ago. Bitten by fiery serpents in the wilderness, facing imminent death, they needed relief. God instructed Moses to build a serpent on a brass pole and to “lift it up.” God then said, “Everyone that is bitten, let him look and live” (Numbers 21:8). Look to that (a pole in the ground with a cursed serpent hanging on it). Look! Look and live! Look and live! Look and live!
“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:14,15).
Jewish law required the cursed person be buried by sundown; the law had been fulfilled.
Christ bore on the tree the sentence for me!
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord”