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There they crucified him.” These four words describe unbelievable agony. Never having witnessed a crucifixion, we can only imagine it. Passion plays and movies help us see it. If you’ve never seen one of these, watch Mel Gibson’s, Passion of the Christ. Believe me, it is gory, and is not for children. The Scriptures never dwell on the blood and gore of flogging and crucifixion, perhaps because in the 1st century everyone knew exactly what crucifixion was.

Scripture focuses, instead, on why he died; saying he was crucified conveyed all necessary to convey the agony of the event.

Why did he die?

The human purpose is evident. The Jews delivered him to Pilate out of envy. Then, Pilate and the Jews each manipulated the other into getting what each of them wanted: Pilate wanted the Jewish leaders to acknowledge Caesar as king; the Jews wanted Jesus crucified as an imposter king. Neither was interested in justice – or Truth.

The divine purpose is more complex. He died for our sins according to the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:3). But how are we to understand this? He died:

  • Because of sins; it was sinful men who actually nailed him to the cross (Acts 2:23).
  • Bearing our sins in his own body, so we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24).
  • To heal our brokenness before God by returning us, like straying sheep, to the Shepherd (1 Pet. 2:25).
  • To redeem us as God redeemed Israel from Egypt, by his blood as the Lamb of God (Eph. 1:7).
  • To reconcile us to God in Himself, making peace through the cross (2 Cor. 5:18; Col. 1:20).
  • As a propitiation or atonement by his blood (Rom. 3:29). Note: This differs from both the pagan propitiation of the gods and the Jewish sacrifice of atonement, for God provided the atoning sacrifice.
  • As a ransom from him who held us captive, so we can become willing servants (Mark 10:45; Heb. 9:14).
  • To bring the blessing of Abraham to the Gentiles (Gal. 3:14).
  • To take the curse of the Law on himself (Gal. 3:10-13).
  • As obedience to God (Phil. 2:8).
  • To bear much fruit by dying (John 12:24).
  • To draw all men to himself (John 12:32-33).
  • To justify sinners, making them righteous (Rom. 5:9).
  • To purchase the church (Acts 20:28).
  • To give us hope that those who have died in Christ will return with him (1 Thess. 4:14).
  • So we can live with him (2 Tim. 2:11).
  • To teach us to live righteously now (Tit. 2:11).
  • To give us confidence to enter God’s holy place (Heb. 10:19).
  • To sanctify us (Heb. 10:29; 13:12).
  • For his own ultimate joy (Heb. 12:2; Phil 2:8-11).
  • To ransom us from the empty, futile ways of our old life (1 Pet. 1:18-19)
  • To bring us to God (1 Pet. 3:18).
  • To cleanse us from all sin (1 John 1:7).
  • To empower Jesus to open the scroll (Rev. 5:9).
  • To destroy the devil who has the power of death (Heb. 2:14).
  • To deliver all who were enslaved through fear of death (Heb. 2:15).
  • To empower us to conquer the Satan (Rev. 12:11).
  • As an example for us when we suffer unjustly (1 Peter 2:20-23).

We could add more, but this is sufficient to show that Jesus’ death is for much more than removing guilt. It empowers us to have victorious lives filled with his power.

Though many see it only as forgiveness of guilt, God’s STORY is about more than guilt. It is about transformation. Also essential to this is the next part of the STORY: resurrection!


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