The Passion of Christ – Part Seven – Mark 15:1-47

 

Thus far in our consideration of The Passion of Christ we have seen Jesus’ passion flows from the love of God (Mark 9), Jesus’ passion for evangelism (Mark 10), Jesus’ passion for building faith (Mark 11), Jesus’ passion to give an answer (Mark 12) and Jesus’ passion for prophetic preparation and warning (Mark 13). In Mark 14 we saw Jesus passion to press on. Now in chapter fifteen we see Jesus Passion to Pay the Price. We will see in this chapter the extreme cost of our redemption. It is true that the salvation offered by God’s grace is free, but it is also true that it was not cheap; it was paid for with the blood of Jesus.

 

We also ought to mention that while individual types of sin are referred to in the price of Jesus passion in this chapter here, but not mentioning all types of sin we are not insinuating that the sins not mentioned are not covered by the blood of Jesus. Jesus died so that we could be freed from and forgiven of all sin. The apostle John was inspired to tell us this when he wrote:

 

  • 1 John 1:7 – “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

There are other verses which tell us that same such as:

 

  • Colossians 2:13-14 – “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”
  • Hebrews 1:1-3 – “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,”

The blood of Jesus, His death on the cross, paid the price for forgiveness of all and every sin for the one who receives that forgiveness for sin through faith in Jesus and His atoning work on the cross. That is a glorious truth and reality because Jesus had a passion to pay the full atoning price for sin, all sin.

 

There was a great price paid at the cross. Mark 15 tells us of the passion of Jesus to see that the price for forgiveness for sins, all sins, was fully paid; that was His passion. Let’s proceed prayerfully as we step onto the holy ground of the passion of Jesus Christ to fully pay the penalty for all sin.

 

Jesus had a Passion to Pay the Price for Hate

 

Mark 15:1 – “Immediately, in the morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council; and they bound Jesus, led Him away, and delivered Him to Pilate.” [1]

In the opening verse of Mark 15 we see the conniving, premeditated, manipulative, hateful workings of the religious leaders to orchestrate by any means the destruction of Jesus (Mark 14:53-65). The opening verse of this chapter tells us that the chief priests wasted no time in working their murderous plot, they “immediately, in the morning, . . . held a consultation” to bring it to pass. Jesus never sinned. He did countless miracles and taught from God’s word like no one ever had or ever will. And yet these religious leaders, (those who boasted in their positions to uphold their traditions and supposedly also Law) committed premeditated murder, first degree murder of the most heinous kind. Why did they do it?

Later in this chapter a comment is made about what was known by Pilate in regards to this situation. It states:

  • Mark 15:10 – “For he knew that the chief priests had handed Him over because of envy.”  [2]

The word “envy,” here is translated from the Greek term PHTHONOS (Strong’s # 5355) which conveys the meaning of, “the feeling of displeasure produced by witnessing or hearing of the advantage or prosperity of others.” [3] Jealousy is a synonym for this word.

Envy and jealousy often lead to hate. Now so great was this jealousy in the hearts of the religious leaders that they sought to eliminate Jesus from the picture so they could maintain their position of prominence and control amongst the people (Mark 14:55). Jesus knew the evil hearts of these men and even foretold their evil deed of murdering Him in parables such as the parable of the Wicked Vinedressers who kill the Son of the Owner so they can seize the inheritance  (see Mark 12:1-9; Matthew 21:33-46). The gospels testify to the intense hatred and rage produced in the religious leaders due to their envy of Jesus:

  • Luke 6:11 – “But they were filled with rage, and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.”  [4]

Hate is a very destructive force. Someone has said:

“Hate is like acid. It can damage the vessel in which it is stored as well as destroy the object on which it is poured.” [5]

Hate in people is the result of the selfishness of sin in full bloom. The hate the religious leaders held for Jesus brought condemnation upon themselves as they vented it on Jesus.

Jesus was well aware of the hatred of the religious leaders and the world toward Him as He told His disciples:

  • John 7:7 - “The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil.”  [6]
  • John 15:25 - “But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’”  [7]

What we need to understand is that hatred is rooted in evil and evil is under condemnation from God. In John’s gospel Jesus states:

  • John 3:19-20 - “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.20 “For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.” [8]

Because hate is an evil under the condemnation of God, this makes up part of the price paid by Jesus on the cross so that hateful evil people could be justified and saved. Because Jesus took the penalty for hatred on the cross, those who have hated can be justified and forgiven.

MARK THAT ACTION:  Jesus had a passion to overcome the hate of others, we should to. Do you envy someone? Has your envy developed into hatred? Do you have hate in your heart for someone? Do you have hate in your heart for any reason? Someone may have abused you or done something terrible to you and you have responded with hate in your heart. You say, “Yeah, someone abused me and I hate them and I always will.” Hate is like an acid, it destroys the container it is held in as well as that upon which it is poured. If you have hate in your heart for any reason consider the cross of Christ, because Jesus paid the price of hate on the cross. Hate never fulfills it only empties and destroys. Give your hate to Jesus and let Him deal with it on the cross.

Jesus had a Passion to Pay the Price for Injustice

Mark 15:2-15 – “Then Pilate asked Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” He answered and said to him, It is as you say.”3 And the chief priests accused Him of many things, but He answered nothing.4 Then Pilate asked Him again, saying, “Do You answer nothing? See how many things they testify against You!”5 But Jesus still answered nothing, so that Pilate marveled. 6 Now at the feast he was accustomed to releasing one prisoner to them, whomever they requested.7 And there was one named Barabbas, who was chained with his fellow rebels; they had committed murder in the rebellion.8 Then the multitude, crying aloud, began to ask him to do just as he had always done for them.9 But Pilate answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?”10 For he knew that the chief priests had handed Him over because of envy.11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd, so that he should rather release Barabbas to them.12 Pilate answered and said to them again, “What then do you want me to do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?”13 So they cried out again, “Crucify Him!”14 Then Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they cried out all the more, “Crucify Him!”15 So Pilate, wanting to gratify the crowd, released Barabbas to them; and he delivered Jesus, after he had scourged Him, to be crucified.” [9]

In the previous chapter we saw the willingness of the Sanhedrin to break the law in order to fulfill their premeditated plot to murder Jesus (Mark 14:53-65). Here in chapter 15 of Mark we see the willingness of the people, (incited by the religious leaders), to unjustly have innocent Jesus crucified instead of the rebel Barabbas (Mark 15:2-14). We also see the politically expedient Pilate, (representative of the Gentile Roman government), go along with the unjust choice of the others in order to gratify the crowd (Mark 15:15). Throughout all of this injustice, Jesus remained silent for the most part before Pilate (Mark 15:5). This is another of many fulfilled prophecies by Jesus (see Isaiah 53:7). Jesus could have turned all His enemies to rocks as a symbol of their stony hearts, but He didn’t, He chose to press on and pay the price.

This passage tells us that Pilate’s custom was to pardon a convicted felon as an act of kindness during the feast of the Jews (Mark 15:6). Knowing this and not believing that Jesus was deserving of death, Pilate presented the people with an option that he probably thought was greatly weighed in Jesus’ favor. Pilate presented a choice to the people of pardoning Barabbas, one who was, “chained with his fellow rebels; they had committed murder in their rebellion,” (Mark 15:7; see also Acts 13:14-15), and Jesus, one of whom Pilate said, “Why, what evil has He done?” (Mark 15:14). Matthew records Pilate as referring to Jesus as a, “just person” (Matthew 27:24). Pilate probably expected the people to choose Jesus over a rebelious murderer. He probably favored the release of the just rather than the troublemaker. A troublemaker is more likely to cause more trouble for Pilate than a just man. But the people chose Barabbas the criminal over Jesus the just (Mark 15:11-15; Matthew 27:15-21).

The account continues stating, “Pilate answered and said to them again, “What then do you want me to do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?” (Mark 15:12). That’s the 64 million dollar question that all humanity must respond to. What will you do with Jesus? Will you receive Him as your Savior? Will you turn away from Him, ignore Him? Will you kill Him again by trying to erase Him from your mind and consciousness philosophically? (See Romans 1:18-32). Will you give your heart to Him and follow Him as a disciple? What will you do with Jesus?

In Matthew’s account it states that while this decision was being made Pilate’s wife sends word to Pilate that she has had, “suffered many things today in a dream because of Him [i.e. Jesus]” (Matthew 27:19). Pilate knew Jesus was innocent (Mark 15:10, 14). Despite his wife’s warning, Pilate acquiesces to the people’s decision to free Barabbas and have Jesus crucified. IN Matthew’s account Pilate makes a public show of his sentiments toward their decision by washing his hands in a symbolic statement saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person” (Matthew 27:24). The people in response shout, “His blood be on us and on our children.” (Matthew 27:25). Understand, no amount of hand washing could cleanse Pilate from caving in to the political pressure of people who were calling for an unjust decision. And no amount of popular opinion could dismiss the gross injustice perpetrated by the religious leaders and the people against Jesus (Mark 15:11-15; Matthew 27:25-26). Only Jesus could pay that price, and He did on the cross so that the unjust that repent and put their faith in Him could be forgiven. That is the passion of Jesus to pay the price. Jesus died on the cross to pay the price of the sin of injustice.

MARK THAT ACTION: Jesus had a passion to pay the price for injustice. He willingly suffered unjustly so that forgiveness could be offered to those who act unjustly. We need to be willing to suffer unjustly too, not to propitiate our own sins; Jesus has done that, but to suffer unjustly to see the will of God done. If we have acted unjustly need to come to God through Christ for forgiveness.

 

Religion is not the answer

 

Don’t miss a very important underlying message bound up in the passion of Jesus to pay the price. What we see in part in Mark 15 is an act of religious hatred.  Religious people and religious leaders are not the answer to envy and hate because they do not address the needed new heart that only Jesus can provide. Religion, (which is used here to refer to those who focus on what a person needs to do to be right with “God”) often leads to violence and acts of hatred (see Acts 4:1-22; 5:17-42; 7:1-60; 8:1-3; etc.).  Throughout the world we see examples of injustices committed by religious Muslims against Christians and Jews. This is further proof that religion does not work. You could throw into this religious pile the Inquisitions and Crusades produced by religious pursuits of Christ throughout history. Religion is doomed to failure because it focuses on humanities efforts to be right before God. Jesus calls us to a higher and deeper spiritual reality (Matthew 5:20). There is power in the gospel (Romans 1:16-17). The gospel is good news that sinful people cannot work their way to a pleasing position before God, but God has provided the gift of salvation in Christ. Jesus died to pay the price of religious injustice. Anyone who repents of religion and injustice therefore, can find forgiveness and be born again to a new life in Christ (John 3; 2 Corinthians 5:17). Life in Christ is an experience of personal relationship with Him (Revelation 3:20). It is that personal experience and relationship with Christ that is able to empower a person to overcome envy and hatred. That is the only way (Mark 14:35:42).

 

Jesus had a Passion to Pay the Price for Cruelty

 

Mark 15:16-23 – “Then the soldiers led Him away into the hall called Praetorium, and they called together the whole garrison.17 And they clothed Him with purple; and they twisted a crown of thorns, put it on His head,18 and began to salute Him, “Hail, King of the Jews!”19 Then they struck Him on the head with a reed and spat on Him; and bowing the knee, they worshiped Him.20 And when they had mocked Him, they took the purple off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him. 21 Then they compelled a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, the father of Alexander and Rufus, as he was coming out of the country and passing by, to bear His cross.22 And they brought Him to the place Golgotha, which is translated, Place of a Skull.23 Then they gave Him wine mingled with myrrh to drink, but He did not take it.” [10]

When we read these verses we catch a glimpse into the dark heart of sinful humanity. It is hard to imagine the animal-like nature of such torturers of Jesus. Roman soldiers who served on the crucifixion detail were often selected because of their lust for blood and torture. Jesus knew this was His fate and yet His passion was to pay the price of cruelty so that even repentant torturers could be saved.

The King’s Game

If you were to go to Jerusalem today you could visit the Praetorium or Antonio Fortress where Jesus was cruelly treated by the soldiers. On the marble floor in the ground floor of the Praetorium is a type of game board etched into the stone. There was a game the soldiers used to play with each other in the time of Jesus; it was called The King’s Game.

The King’s Game was a game where the soldiers would throw dice and the loser would be dressed like a king and then cruelly executed. They would play this game with each other. This game led to so many soldiers being cruelly killed that the Roman army ordered it be stopped. The soldiers greatly protested the loss of their favorite game. In an effort to pacify them, the army allowed the game to be played, but not with other soldiers as the victims, only other civilians. Jesus was not the first to suffer in this way, but He was the first and only true King of kings and LORD of lords to be treated this way.

Human beings who live in sin can degenerate to extreme sinful behavior. The depth of sin of humanity was recently seen in the tsunami disaster when it was reported that Pedophiles were actually going to the devastated area and abducting orphaned children and then selling them as sex slaves. Such horrors are difficult to consider.

The account says, “Then they gave Him wine mingled with myrrh to drink, but He did not take it.(Mark 15:23). The wine mingled with myrrh was a type of pain killer. There is great significance that when Jesus was offered something to deaden the pain, he refused to take it. Jesus did not to be impaired in any way when on the cross. He wanted to experience the full brunt of the sin He would carry on the cross. Jesus took the full brunt of the pain of sin; He left no amount of sin unpropitiated. He satisfied and satisfies every required penalty for every sin. Whatever your sin, Jesus paid the price so you can be forgiven in Him. The cross was the perfect means for the full pain of the penalty of sin to be carried out.

MARK THAT ACTION: Jesus suffered cruelly at the hands of vicious men. He did this so that the sins of cruelty could be forgiven. If you have suffered cruelty or been cruel to others, bring it all to Jesus for healing and forgiveness. Furthermore, if Jesus was willing to suffer cruelty to see the will of the Father accomplished, so should we. We do not add to the atoning work of Jesus in suffering like Jesus, but we do come to learn humility and Christlikeness in doing so.

Jesus had a Passion to Pay the Painful Price of Crucifixion for Sin

Mark 15:24-25 – “And when they crucified Him, they divided His garments, casting lots for them to determine what every man should take.25 Now it was the third hour, and they crucified Him.”  [11]

What did it mean for someone to be crucified? It meant public humiliation. It meant pain and the Romans were masters of this painful punishment. The Expositors Bible Commentary describes crucifixion in the following way:

“What is crucifixion? A medical doctor provides a physical description: The cross is placed on the ground and the exhausted man is quickly thrown backwards with his shoulders against the wood. The legionnaire feels for the depression at the front of the wrist. He drives a heavy, square wrought-iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood. Quickly he moves to the other side and repeats the action, being careful not to pull the arms too tightly, but to allow some flex and movement. The cross is then lifted into place.

The left foot is pressed backward against the right foot, and with both feet extended, toes down, a nail is driven through the arch of each, leaving the knees flexed. The victim is now crucified. As he slowly sags down with more weight on the nails in the wrists, excruciating, fiery pain shoots along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain--the nails in the wrists are putting pressure on the median nerves. As he pushes himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, he places the full weight on the nail through his feet. Again he feels the searing agony of the nail tearing through the nerves between the bones of his feet. As the arms fatigue, cramps sweep through the muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps comes the inability to push himself upward to breathe. Air can be drawn into the lungs but not exhaled. He fights to raise himself in order to get even one small breath. Finally carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream, and the cramps partially subside. Spasmodically he is able to push himself upward to exhale and bring in life-giving oxygen.

Hours of this limitless pain, cycles of twisting, joint-rending cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, searing pain as tissue is torn from his lacerated back as he moves up and down against the rough timber. Then another agony begins: a deep, crushing pain deep in the chest as the pericardium slowly fills with serum and begins to compress the heart. It is now almost over--the loss of tissue fluids has reached a critical level--the compressed heart is struggling to pump heavy, thick, sluggish blood into the tissues--the tortured lungs are making a frantic effort to gasp in small gulps of air. He can feel the chill of death creeping through is tissues. . . Finally he can allow his body to die. [12]

There never will be any words to describe the painful price Jesus paid on the cross. There will only be the marks on His body for all eternity. The only manmade thing in heaven, are the scars of crucifixion in the body of Jesus.

Remember what Isaiah was inspired to write in chapter 53 of his book? He wrote:

  • Isaiah 53:4-6 – “Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted.5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”  [13]

Jesus took the pain of sin for humanity when He was crucified on the cross.

In the Psalms it states:

  • Psalm 25:17-18 – “The troubles of my heart have enlarged; Bring me out of my distresses!18 Look on my affliction and my pain, And forgive all my sins.”  [14]

Are you in pain? Are you going through the pain in your body due to the planetary effects of sin generally? Are you going through pain caused by some sin in your life? Have you been the one who has caused pain to another? If so, Jesus paid the price of pain in the crucifixion and so you can bring your pain to the cross.

MARK THAT ACTION: Jesus went to the cross for us, to atone for our sins; we ought to seek forgiveness for all our sins by faith in His cross work. Our salvation is free, but it wasn’t cheap, therefore we ought to lovingly serve the Lord in love for the price He so passionately endured (2 Corinthians 5:14-16).

Jesus had a Passion to Pay the Price for Murder and Blasphemy

Mark 15:26-32 – “And the inscription of His accusation was written above: THE KING OF THE JEWS.27 With Him they also crucified two robbers, one on His right and the other on His left.28 So the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And He was numbered with the transgressors.”29 And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who destroy the temple and build it in three days,30 “save Yourself, and come down from the cross!”31 Likewise the chief priests also, mocking among themselves with the scribes, said, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save.32 “Let the Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Even those who were crucified with Him reviled Him.” [15]

As Jesus hung on the cross crucified, those who passed by “blasphemed Him” (Mark 15:29). The word “blasphemed,” is translated from the Greek term BLASPHEMEO (Strong’s #987 - µ, blas-fay-meh´-o) which has the meaning of, “to vilify; to speak impiously, blaspheme,  defame, rail on, revile, speak evil.” [16] That is what they did to Jesus, that is the price He was willing to pay. He paid the price of murder and blasphemy so that those who had murdered and blasphemed God and later repented, could be forgiven for their sin.

Are you one who has taken God’s name in vain in word and deed? Have you treated the Lord’s name and His reputation casually and negligently? If you have failed to relate to God reverently and in awe of His mighty power and name, repent and see the glory of the Lord! Jesus died to pay even the price for those who blaspheme the LORD.

Have you murdered someone? Has someone you know been murdered? If so you need to repent and turn to Jesus who paid the price for the murder as well as for the pain caused by the murder. If you have murdered someone you need to confess your act to the proper authorities as well and trust God to administer justice in a gracious way. You can be forgiven for murder, but such a sin needs to be put under the God-ordained governing authorities as well (Romans 13).

MARK THAT ACTION: Jesus paid the price for murderers and blasphemers so that we can be forgive of these sins. He endured insults and was willing to die to see the will of God fulfilled, we should be willing to follow in the steps of Jesus even unto death (Philippians 1).

Who Put Jesus on the Cross?

During the Middle Ages and up until recent times some portions of “the Church” accused Judaism of deicide or the murder of Jesus who is God. The accusation of deicide led to inquisitions and the genocide of Jews by the Roman Catholic church. Later Martin Luther of the Protestant church also supported the anti-Semitic persecution of the Jew for deicide.  Such behavior was sinful and inexcusable. This sin was further compounded as others such as Hitler used the deicide accusation to fulfill a prejudicial blood lust against the Jews. It was not only the Jews who are culpable in the crucifixion of Jesus.

Who put Jesus on the cross? There were also Roman politicians and soldiers who were instruments of the sinful crucifixion of Jesus. These politicians and soldiers were Gentiles or non-Jews. So we answer the question of who put Jesus on the cross by saying, both Jews and Gentiles put Jesus on the cross.

But this question has a more personal answer. In reality, anyone and everyone who has ever sinned shares in the responsibility for Jesus going to the cross. That’s you and me. Who put Jesus on the cross? You did, I did, every sinner did; every sinner is to blame for putting Jesus on the cross. That’s what the Bible means when it says Jesus died for the sins of the world. Jesus died for all that all who come to Him for forgiveness could be forgiven and find new life in Him. A passage of scripture often repeated in these studies is found in 2 Corinthians 5 and it bears repeating again here:

  • 2 Corinthians 5:14-16 – “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died;15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.16 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer.”

Jesus died “for all” and this means all sinners have a share in putting Jesus on the cross. Yes Jews put Jesus on the cross, but so did Gentiles and all sinners. No one group corners the market on culpability in the cross of Christ.

Jesus had a Passion to Pay the Price for Separation

Mark 15:33-36 – “Now when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”35 Some of those who stood by, when they heard that, said, “Look, He is calling for Elijah!”36 Then someone ran and filled a sponge full of sour wine, put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink, saying, “Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to take Him down.” [17]

When Jesus cried out on the cross, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” He was experiencing the weight of sin and just wrath on Himself, He was experiencing the separation from God that sin causes and He was paying that price for you and me so that we could be reconciled to God.

The Bible states:

  • Isaiah 59:2 – “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.”  [18]
  • Habakkuk 1:13a – “You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, And cannot look on wickedness. . .” [19] (See Luke 16:19-31)

Jesus took that separation from God and paid that price so that those who repent and turn to Him by faith could be reconciled to God.

The words He spoke were quoted from Psalm 22, which is a Psalm that ends in victory. It was a common practice of rabbi’s of that day to quote the first verse of a psalm as a way of pointing the disciple to go and read the entire psalm. But just as those who heard His cry on the cross did not understand the significance of what was going on, so too today people do not understand the significance of the price Jesus paid on the cross. Jesus cry of forsakenness and apparent anguish was really a statement of victory!

Do you feel out of touch with God? Does He seem far away and unreachable? Jesus paid the price on the cross so that those who are afar off could come close to God in Him. Why not take the sin in your life that is causing separation from God and give it to Jesus. Ask Him to bring you close because He paid the price to do just that.

MARK THAT ACTION: Jesus paid the price of separation from the Father caused by sin so that we can come into the presence of God once we are forgiven of our sins by God’s grace through faith in Him. If we feel separate from God we ought to ask, “Why do I feel separate or distant from God?” We ought to search ourselves and ask God to search us out for sins that separate us from Him, then confess them to God and receive forgiveness for them (Psalm 139:23-24; 1 John 1:9). (We’ll discuss more about separation below).

Jesus had a Passion to Pay the Full Price for Death

Mark 15:37-39 – “And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last.38 Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.39 So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said, “Truly this Man was the Son of God!”[20]

The Bible states:

 

  • Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  [21]

The penalty for sin is death and because Jesus died, you and I do not have to die. We will die physically, but we do not have to die spiritually.

 

In Mark’s account it simply marks Jesus’ point of death by stating, “And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last.” (Mark 15:37). In Matthew’s account it more clearly demonstrates that Jesus didn’t die like any other man, He “yielded up His spirit” (Matthew 27:50). Jesus was in control even in death. His life was not taken from Him, He gave it up.  

 

In the gospel of John Jesus emphasizes this by stating:

 

  • John 10:17-18 -  “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.18 “No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”   [22]

But Jesus did die. This may seem obvious, but there have been a number of people from various backgrounds that have denied Jesus’ death saying that He only swooned on the cross.

 

Laying the Swoon Theory to Rest

 

In 1965 a book was published entitled The Passover Plot, in which the author, Hugh Schonfield proposed an explanation about the death of Christ contending that Jesus did not die on the cross but only swooned. Shonfield stated that Jesus planned the entire crucifixion/resurrection figuring that He would indeed be nailed to the cross but banking that He would be removed before the onset of the Sabbath and that He could hold out until then. Jesus supposedly availed Himself of a narcotic while on the cross (27:48) that would put Him in a trance. Joseph of Arimathea was Jesus’ accomplice with another unknown Jew. Jesus was then taken down from the cross in this swoon-like state, put in the tomb of Joseph only to be removed later giving the impression that He had risen from the dead. Therefore, according to the Passover Plot, Jesus resuscitated rather than resurrected.

 

Shonfield’s book merely echoed similar theories in circulation during the first part of the nineteenth century. When Shonfield’s book first came out it was hailed as masterpiece of intellect and investigation. But upon closer inspection it was thoroughly proven false.

 

In His book entitled, Resurrection, Hank Hanegraaf explains that this theory is more an urban legend than a serious possibility. Despite this there have been a number of others who have adopted this theory according to Hanegraaf. He refers to D.H. Lawrence who in 1929 claimed Jesus had not only survived the crucifixion but had migrated to live in Egypt where He fell in love with and married the priestess Isis. Donovan Joyce in 1972 promoted the idea that Jesus had been revived by a doctor and later as an eighty-year-old warrior died at Masada. [23]

 

In addition to individuals holding to this view larger groups such as the religion of Islam and the cult of Jehovah’s Witnesses hold to forms of the swoon theory. Muslims contend that Jesus was not crucified at all and therefore never resurrected. They believe that God made someone else who was crucified simply look like Jesus. Then Jesus presented Himself as resurrected after the death of the alternate on the cross. Jehovah’s Witnesses agree that Jesus was crucified, though not on a cross but on a stake. But rather than being bodily resurrected they contend that He was “re-created an immaterial creature.” JWs say that Jesus was “dissolved into gasses” (Charles Taze Russel).  JWs then say that Jesus’ body “materialized” temporarily to the disciples until He returned to His spiritual state. [24]

 

Did Jesus really die? [25]

 

Is there proof that Jesus really died? Yes, there is an abundance of proof; enough to show that any version of a swoon theory is totally preposterous. Many a medical observation has been made of the accounts of Jesus suffering which show that He did indeed die. 

 

In Luke’s account of Jesus suffering we see that it began in the Garden of Gethsemane. In Luke 22:44 it tells us that Jesus sweat drops of blood. Modern medicine refers to such a condition as hematidrosis. This is a condition that occurs when the sweat glands are ruptured mixing sweat with blood. This itself is a very serious physical condition. This was only the beginning.

 

All gospel accounts tell us that Jesus must have been under a great deal of stress being betrayed and disowned by His disciples and then arrested, falsely accused and condemned, mocked and spat upon. He was then beaten and battered until He bled. And all this before He was taken to the Romans (Mark 15:16-20; Matthew 26:57-68).

 

The Romans were master torturers. In the hands of the Romans Jesus was flogged. This was a brutal Roman practice where a whip with razor-sharp bones and lead balls were struck against the back carving the flesh of the skin into a raveled and raw bloody condition. The Romans soldiers brutalized Jesus by stripping Him, mocking Him, spitting on Him, striking Him in the head with a stick, and they stuck a crown of thorns into His head (Matthew 27:26-31). All this before He was crucified.

 

Crucifixion was a means of capitol punishment that may have been invented by other civilizations, but it was mastered by the Romans. So horrific was this means of bringing death that a word was created to describe it. That word is excruciating (Literally “out of the cross”). Crucifixion involved taking thick seven-inch spikes and driving them through the hands and feet so as to attach the victim to the wooden cross. The victim was nailed to the wooden cross in a contorted manner with knees bent to the side and arms outstretched. The victim had to push up on his nailed feet to take breaths. Each time the victim moved pain coursed throughout his body where the nails held him and where, in Jesus case, He had suffered the preparatory beatings. All this before final blow.

 

To assure that Jesus was dead on the cross. The Roman soldier, (who was an expert at determining death no doubt), took his long spear and pierced the side of Jesus (John 19:31-37). Medical examiners believe that such a piercing upward drove the spear into the pericardium or heart of Jesus. The account tells us that blood and water poured out of the chest cavity of Jesus which is proof that Jesus had been fatally wounded because the sack surrounding the heart had been ruptured which no one could survive, least of all One who had been torn the way Jesus had been.

 

Now think of all of this that Jesus went through and then think of how preposterous it would be for Him to have only swooned. Even if miraculously Jesus did survive the crucifixion, what would He have looked like? Would He hobble into the presence of the disciples on bloody feet and shake their hands with His bloody hands? Would such a sight inspire the disciples and lead them to believe He had risen from the dead? No, there is just no way Jesus didn’t die on the cross. He paid the price in full to redeem us from our sin. These incredible events shook through to the hard heart of many who experienced them, like the centurion who could only exclaim, “Truly this was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39). We can only hope that the Spirit uses the gospel account to break the hard hearts of modern day skeptics and cultists too.

 

But there is more to observe here. The description of the events that followed the death of Jesus is very significant.

 

The Veil of Separation Torn In Two!

 

When Jesus died on the cross, the gospel account states, “Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom,” (Mark 15:38) symbolizing that Jesus had paid the penalty for sin and there was now an accessibility to God through Him. In the Temple proper were two compartments, the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place (Exodus 26:31-35). These two compartments were separated by a thick (some say 18 inches thick!) veil. The room referred to as the Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant was kept and where atonement was made, was approximately a 20-cubit cub. The veil that separated this room was therefore approximately 20 by 20 cubits. A cubit is estimated to be about 18 inches.  Therefore the veil that was torn in two was thick piece of woven yarn-like material with embroidery on it measuring 30 by 30 feet. This was not something that could be easily torn.

 

The veil symbolized the separation from Holy God that sin had created. Before the cross only the high priest could go behind the veil and that only once a year on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16). But when Jesus died on the cross He satisfied the just requirement of the Law so that now through faith in Him we can come into the presence of Holy God. The Scripture puts it like this:

 

  • Hebrews 4:15-16 – “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  [26]
  • Hebrews 10:18-23 – “Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus,20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh,21 and having a High Priest over the house of God,22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”  [27]

Notice also that the veil was torn, “from top to bottom.” This is significant because it shows that God tore the veil opening the door to His holy presence. A veil torn from bottom to top is a veil torn by men. But a veil torn from top to bottom was torn by God. We now are at peace with God, the separation is removed. The apostle Paul explained this glorious provision offered through Jesus by saying:

 

  • Romans 5:1-2 – “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”  [28]

Jesus paid the price so we can have access to God. We can now have a personal relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ.

 

MARK THAT ACTION: Jesus really did pay the full price of death on the cross so that we could experience the presence of God. He died for us so that we could live for Him (See 2 Corinthians 5:14-21).

Jesus has a Passion to Die so That We Might Live

 

Mark 15:40-47 – “There were also women looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joses, and Salome,41 who also followed Him and ministered to Him when He was in Galilee, and many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem. 42 Now when evening had come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath,43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.44 Pilate marveled that He was already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him if He had been dead for some time.45 So when he found out from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph.46 Then he bought fine linen, took Him down, and wrapped Him in the linen. And he laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock, and rolled a stone against the door of the tomb.47 And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses observed where He was laid.” [29]

Upon His death the women who followed Jesus came to take care of His body when it was removed from the cross (Mark 15:40-41). Joseph of Arimathea, a disciple of Jesus too, went to Pilate and got permission to take the body of Jesus and put it in His own personal tomb after it was temporarily rolled in a large cloth (Mark 15:42-43).  Pilate marveled that Jesus died so relatively quickly as compared to his normal experience with crucifixions. Crucifixion was meant to prolong the agony of those being executed so that one crucified could take days to die. Jesus was crucified at 9 a.m. (“the third hour” – Mark 15:25) and died at 3 p.m. in the afternoon (“the ninth hour” – Matthew 27:46-50), six hours on the cross in all. This relatively rapid death of Jesus can be attributed to the weight of the physical punishment and weight of sin that He bore on the cross.

 

Observe that this was a particular tomb owned by Joseph (Mark 15:46) and that  “Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses observed where He was laid” (Mark 15:47).  This is important because some skeptics have stated that the women who saw Jesus alive after the resurrection really only saw a gardener and had in reality mistakenly gone to the wrong tomb. This is very unlikely if not preposterous, not to mention it totally contradicts the expressed stated truth of the gospel account. The ladies who saw Jesus after the resurrection knew exactly where they were going and where they were. It only goes to show that those who reject Christ will go to any limit to do so.

 

Victory Over Death

 

Just as surely as the large stone was rolled against the mouth of the tomb, Jesus died on the cross and paid the price of redemption on the cross. And because Jesus paid the price of death, the believer in Him can have victory over death. The Bible tells us:

 

  • 1 Corinthians 15:26,54-58 – “The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. . . 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”55 “O Death, where is your sting? 1 O Hades, where is your victory?”56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”  [30]

The “sting of death is sin,” means, those who live and die in sin suffer a stinging death, a death of darkness, hopelessness and uncertainty. When Paul says, “and the strength of sin is the law” he means that it is the breaking of God’s holy law that exposes a person’s sinfulness and God’s just decision to condemn to eternal darkness those who die in their sins apart from saving faith in Jesus Christ.

Another portion of scripture from Paul in which he discusses the impact of the cross on death is found in his last letter to Timothy where he is inspired to write:

  • 2 Timothy 1:8-12 – “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God,9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,10 but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,11 to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.12 For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.”

Jesus paid the price of death so that this final enemy could be victoriously overcome in Him. Jesus died that we might live. But there is something else to take note of here; Paul says in 2 Timothy 1:12 that “I know whom I have believed . . . .” How could this be true?

 

You Can Know You Have Eternal Life

 

As a pastor I have been asked on numerous occasions to do funerals and the one thing I can say is that the funeral of a born again genuine Christian is far different than other funerals. Those born of the Spirit know they are going to heaven, they know to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). Those who don’t “know” the Lord, face eternity with great uncertainty. To the unsaved death is a black hole, a dark abyss that creates fear and dread. Only the foolishly cocky or religiously misled dive into the darkness of death in such uncertainty. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can have an assurance  now of your eternal destiny. The apostle John devoted an epistle to teaching his readers that they could know they had eternal life. Below are a few of his inspired statements to this effect:

 

  • 1 John 2:3-6 –“Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.”
  • 1 John 3:14-15 – “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death.15 Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”
  • 1 John 3:24 – “Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.”
  • 1 John 4:13 – “By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.” (See Romans 8)
  • 1 John 5:12-13  - “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.”  (1 John 5:18-21)

How do we come by this glorious knowledge or assurance that we have eternal life? Through the cross of Christ! All of this is by the grace and provision of God. All of the new life and life changing, life altering holiness is Gods work in us (Philippians 2:13; Romans 8:26). All of this is rooted in the cross of Christ. John is inspired to say it like this:

  • 1 John 2:1-2 – “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”

Propitiation  means that Jesus satisfied the just requirement of God; and that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (2 Corinthians 5:19). Because of the cross of Jesus and His sacrificial substitutionary death for us on it, we can gain victory over death; death no longer is a black hole or bottomless abyss of uncertainty and dread, it is a door to eternal life in the holy loving presence of God. Glory to God!

 

MARK THAT ACTION: Jesus died that we might experience eternal life, that we might be certain about our eternal destiny and what will happen to us after we die. Do you feel spiritual dead and lifeless? God offers you new life in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 6:4). Jesus paid the price on the cross so that those who were dead in their sin could be made alive in Him (Ephesians 2:1-10). Jesus died to give us victory over the fear of death. Jesus has taken the sting of death away. Why not accept His offer and come alive in Him?

 

The Crux of the Cross of Christ

 

The movie The Passion of the Christ caused quite a stir when it was released for public viewing. Millions went to see the film and many were deeply moved by its depiction of the passion of Jesus. A movie that looks at the cross of Christ is going to be controversial. People who indulge in sin and self don’t want their comfortable state ruffled or rebuked by the thought of the pain, the price Christ paid and yes, the passion of the cross. The cross is offensive to those trying to hide from its convicting shadow (Matthew 11:6; John 6:58-63; Romans 9:31-33; 1 Corinthians 1:23). You can’t look at the sacrifice of Jesus and all it entails and feel comfortable about living in sin and that irks some people. It’s very interesting how film critics excuse violence as artistic expression in films with a secular theme, but when it comes to Jesus Christ and Him crucified, they act appalled. Satan has been working on the desensitizing of humanity through depicting violence for years now. That was for the most part okay with the secular world. But when  violence is used to show the depth of humanities’ sinfulness then the critics cry, “its just too much.” But the cross was a terror, it was gory, it was violent, not because God is sadistic, but because sin is so vicious and the cross was the only way to expose that in truth and defeat it effectively.

 

Still others pointed out accurately that the film was from the Roman Catholic perspective of its director Mel Gibson and as such, was more propaganda than passion of Jesus. While this is true, the film still brought the cross into the public square for consideration and that is a good thing. Once in the public eye, the opportunity presented itself for disciples of Jesus to point out the true Biblical details and truth about the cross.

 

Below are ten aspects of the cross that speak about the absolute necessity of Christ’s sacrifice on it. The cross was not optional, it was and is essential to salvation and defeating sin (See Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42). Furthermore, in the aftermath of The Passion of the Christ  solid Biblical teaching is needed to separate that based on conjecture and human traditions from the inspired revelation of God found in His word. Meditate on the crux or sum total of what the Bible says about the cross of Christ.

 

First, the Cross of Christ is indispensable to the Gospel. The New Testament states:

 

  • 1 Corinthians 2:2 – “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”  [31]

These words of Paul to the Corinthians demonstrate to us just how central and indispensable the Cross of Christ is to the gospel. Paul made the Cross of Christ is central focus and he explained why as we look at the verses that precede the above verse:

  • 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 – “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.19 For it is written:  “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom;23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness,24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”  [32]

You see, in the Cross of Christ we have the embodiment of God’s wisdom and power. Wisdom is the ability to solve a problem. God solved the problem of sin powerfully in the Cross of Christ. How did He do this?

 

Second, the Cross of Christ is the means God uses to deliver us from sin. Paul was inspired to write:

 

  • Galatians 1:3-5 – “Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ,4 who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,5 to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”  [33]

The Cross of Christ is the means by which God provided a way for sinful humanity to be delivered from the evil world in which we live. Apart from God, sinful humanity is caught in the clutches of sin and in bondage to sin. Sin causes pain. Sin is like a narcotic that although the user knows it will kill them in the end, they can’t stop in their own strength the using and abusing of it. How does God deliver sinful humanity from this evil world and sin through the Cross of Christ?

 

Third, the Cross of Christ is where Jesus became a curse for us. Later in Galatians Paul writes:

 

  • Galatians 3:10-14 – “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.”11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.”12 Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.”13 Christ has 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”),14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”  [34]

In our own strength, apart from God’s help, we are under His righteous law. Under this standard one offense, one misstep in regards to keeping God’s law is enough to put us under the cruse or penalty for the law. God is totally just and as a just Judge, He penalizes sin. The penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23). God’s wrath is on sin (Romans 1:18). At the Cross of Christ, Jesus took our place on the cross and became a curse for us. Here we see the substitutionary nature of the Cross. What is the significance and meaning of Christ’s substitutionary cross-work?

 

Fourth, the Cross of Christ is where Jesus satisfied God’s Holy Justice. In another epistle of Paul’s he is inspired to write:

 

  • Romans 3:20-26 – “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. 21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference;23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed,26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”  [35]

The law of God was given not to make one righteous, but to expose utterly the sinfulness of humanity (Romans 3:20). The law of God removes all excuses from sinful humanity because it shows that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:1-18,23). But God sent His Son Jesus Christ to the Cross to be a propitiation, or an atoning sacrifice that satisfies God’s holy justice. We cannot do anything that will satisfy God’s just standard; therefore, God sent His Son and in Him satisfied His own standard of holy justice. On the Cross of Christ Jesus took the sins of the world upon Him as well as God’s holy just wrathful penalty for sins upon Him and paid the price for all sin. God did this to demonstrate beyond doubt His righteousness. A Holy God does not simply dismiss sin without dealing with it, but justly made a way to deal with sin and remove it’s penalty. All sin is forgiven, past, present and future, on the basis of Jesus’ propitiation on the Cross. And what is even more incredible is that God is the, “just and justifier” BECAUSE GOD WAS IN CHRIST RECONCILING THE WORLD TO HIMSELF ON THE CROSS. As Paul was inspired to write:

 

  • 2 Corinthians 5:19,21 – “that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. . . 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  [36]

We have seen God’s justice, but what about God’s love?

 

Fifth, the Cross of Christ is God’s greatest and clearest demonstration of His Holy Love. Also in that epistle Paul says:

 

  • Romans 5:8 – “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  [37]

The Cross of Christ is God’s greatest demonstration of  “His own love.” God’s love held nothing back, not even His son, not even Himself. Greater love has no one than this, that God laid down His life for sinful humanity.

But what about after we have been forgiven through faith in Christ, is the Cross of Christ useful in living life?

 

Sixth, the Cross of Christ is the means to live a life of death to sinful self. In the letter to the Galatians Paul writes:

 

  • Galatians 2:20 - “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”  [38]
  • Galatians 5:24 – “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”  [39]

When we accept Jesus as our Savior and exercise God’s gift of saving faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) it’s as though our old sinful self is crucified with Him. From that point we are in a righteous position before God, sins forgiven, slate of recorded sins wiped clean forever. But where do we go from there? The above verses tell us that by faith now in Jesus we put fleshly desires in the wastebasket of the cross. The apostle Paul was inspired to explain this in the following way:

 

  • Romans 6:4-14 – “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”  [40]

Practically speaking, after we have experienced the new birth (John 3:3,5; Titus 3:5) we will experience fleshly lusts from within us to sin which are connected with the “old man,” or old sinful way of living. This is because we have yet to receive glorified bodies (Romans 8:23), and there remains a struggle with the “old man” who still rears his head to seek control of us. But in the Cross of Christ there is a means of victory. When the old man attacks with his lusts, then by faith we need to “reckon” or put to the account of, lay, place, those lusts and temptations in the casket of the cross, close the lid, and stand in your right position by faith before God in Christ by the Spirit. This is the sanctifying process of the Spirit in the believer (Ephesians 5:18).

But what about the temptations from the world outside of us?

 

Seventh, the Cross of Christ is the means to gain victory over a sinful world. Read what the New Testament states in this regard:

 

  • Galatians 6:14 – “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”  [41]

Here we see that the same process is used when temptations come from the world. By faith we maintain our position before God and cast the temptations in the casket of the Cross and close the lid.

 

But how do those who are unsaved react to the Cross of Christ? Will they joyfully respect the Cross of Christ?

 

Eight, the Cross of Christ is a foolish concept to the unsaved, but the power of God to the saved. That the cross is folly to the world is testified to in the following verse:

 

  • 1 Corinthians 1:18 – “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”  [42]

The world views the Cross of Christ as foolish, a barbaric notion of an imaginary religious belief system. But to those who have experienced the power of the gospel in the Cross of Christ, there is no need to explain, but only receive by faith.

Ninth, the Cross of Christ will bring persecution from the religious and worldly (i.e. fleshly; self-centered; self-absorbed; self-serving). The cross is the enemy of self and those who prefer to live for self battle against the cross and those who follow it as we see in the following verses:

 

  • Galatians 5:11 – “And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased.”  [43]
  • Galatians 6:12 – “As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.”  [44]
  • Philippians 3:17-19 – “Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.”  [45]

Those who depend on religious works (i.e. “circumcision” – Galatians 5:11), fleshly pursuits (Galatians 6:12), and “whose god is their belly” will all persecute those who live by faith in the Cross of Christ.

 

Tenth, the Cross of Christ eliminates prejudices and brings peace in the Spirit. Our world is wracked with division, even in the church. But the cross has an answer to such divisions. Read what the inspired words of the letter to the Ephesians states:

 

  • Ephesians 2:14-18 – “For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one [i.e. Jews and Gentiles], and has broken down the middle wall of separation,15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace,16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near.18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.”  [46]

The Cross of Christ is the answer to the divisions in the world caused by the sinfulness of humanity. Sin divides and destroys; but the Cross of Christ unites and brings us into the presence of the Father by the Spirit. THE CROSS OF CHRIST IS THE BRIDGE THAT ALLOWS THE SINNER TO CROSS OVER THE CHASM OF SEPARATION FROM GOD CAUSED BY SIN (Isaiah 59:2), AND STEP INTO THE PRESENCE OF GOD AND HIS PEOPLE PERSONALLY FOR ETERNITY.

The Cross of Christ is an incredible provision by God and is offered by His grace to us.  The crux of the Cross is that we can be forgiven for our sins (Colossians 2:13), indwelled by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9-14), and given eternal life (John 3:16) through faith in Jesus and His cross-work (Romans 10:8-10). We can come into the presence of God through the Cross of Christ.

The film the Passion of the Christ as an instrument depicting the cross of Christ, had one of three effects on those who saw it. It convicted some (sinners)  and moved them to repent and put their faith in Christ as Lord and Savior. Unfortunately, a year after the release of the film reveals that few fall into this category. Of those moved by the film many followed into further religious practices but even fewer into a deep personal saving relationship with Jesus. Others who saw the film dismissed it; they walked away unfazed with little to no noticeable change in their heart or lives. They tried to make excuses and criticize the work of Christ. They tried to minimize in some way the impact and power, the truth of the cross of Christ. These were further hardened in their sin (like Pharaoh – Exodus 4-12; like people in the End times – Matthew 24:12; 2 Timothy 3:1-5; like the Laodiceans – Revelation 14-22). But others, those who had a relationship with Jesus as their Savior, who perhaps were living carnally in their flesh (1 Corinthians 3:1-4), some of these were cut to the heart and convicted of their spiritual slothfulness and compelled by the love of Jesus to recommit their lives to Jesus afresh. Which one were you?

When Jesus endured the cross He did so joyfully (i.e. He had full assurance that He was fulfilling the will of God) because in His love for you and me, He knew it was necessary if we were to deal with and defeat sin in our lives and spend eternity with Him (Hebrews 12:1-4).

Conclusion

If you go to the website of the cult leader Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s most recent front name of The Federation for World Peace and Unification (www.familyfed.org) you can find his latest aberrant teaching and it has to do with the cross of Christ. Rev. Moon is teaching that the cross of Christ should be done away with, that it should be removed from all churches and a crown inserted in its place. This program of systematic removal of the cross from churches is called Take Down the Cross.  On April 30th, 2003 a Prime Time America broadcast reported 123 churches were persuaded by Moon to remove the cross from their churches. These churches claimed and agreed with Moon that the cross is “an image of bloodshed.. . . gruesome . . . no longer an appropriate symbol for Christians.”

Behind this apostate program is the Divine Principle which is the foundational teaching of Rev. Moon and his cult. This Divine Principle can be summarized as follows:

            The Divine Principle is a false revelation which Rev. Moon says was given to him by         God. It is also a book published by the Unification Church, which they refer to as the          Completed Testament. The Completed Testament supersedes the New Testament, in the      same way that the New Testament supersedes the Old Testament. In a nutshell, it teaches     that Jesus Christ failed in his mission and was not supposed to die on the cross. Jesus was         not born of a Virgin, was not resurrected bodily, and is not God. Rev. Moon, however,     has completed what Jesus failed to do, and Moon is the Return of Christ, King of Kings         and Lord of Lords. In this age, the Completed Testament age, people are saved by       attending to and following Rev. Moon as their Savior and Messiah.[47]

Rev. Moon is a bit premature in crowning himself the King of kings and LORD of Lords. That position is reserved for Jesus Christ who will return in glory (Revelation 19). Moon is nothing more than another cultish power seeking, self-promoting antichrist heretic figure who needs to repent and bow before the thrown and yes, the cross of Christ.

But the cross is important and essential in the passionate plan of God in Christ. As we have seen without the cross there is no salvation, eternal life or liberation from sin. Without the cross we lose God’s deepest and most passionate revelation of His justice and holy love. If you do away with the cross, you do away with the passion of God in Christ.

A poem written by John Newton captures the preeminence, necessity and passion of Jesus to pay the full price for our sin on the cross:  

In evil long I took delight,
Unawed by shame or fear,
Till a new object struck my sight,
And stopp'd my wild career:
I saw One hanging on a Tree
In agonies and blood,
Who fix'd His languid eyes on me.
As near His Cross I stood.

Sure never till my latest breath,
Can I forget that look:
It seem'd to charge me with His death,
Though not a word He spoke:
My conscience felt and own'd the guilt,
And plunged me in despair:
I saw my sins His Blood had spilt,
And help'd to nail Him there.

Alas! I knew not what I did!
But now my tears are vain:
Where shall my trembling soul be hid?
For I the Lord have slain!

A second look He gave, which said,
"I freely all forgive;
This blood is for thy ransom paid;
I die that thou may'st live."

Thus, while His death my sin displays
In all its blackest hue,
Such is the mystery of grace,
It seals my pardon too.
With pleasing grief, and mournful joy,
My spirit now if fill'd,
That I should such a life destroy,
Yet live by Him I kill'd!

John Newton, 1725-1807.

In Mark 15 we see the extent to which Jesus’ passion went to pay the price of redemption. In this chapter we see the depths of humanities’ sin. While we cannot find every single solitary type of sin catalogued in this chapter or elsewhere, we can be certain that Jesus paid the full price of redemption on the cross and therefore, whatever your sin, you can be forgiven by God. Receive His gift of faith, repent and be made new. Remember, God loves you, but you are separated from Him by sin. The good news is you can come to Him and have an awesomely deep, real  and personal relationship with Him if you come and ask forgiveness for your sin based on the price for sin Jesus paid on the cross. Put your faith in Him and His work, not your own. Come to Him, receive and be filled with His Holy Spirit.  The passion of Jesus to pay the price made that possible for you.  Jesus’ passion paid the price in full so we could have life in full.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



[1]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[2]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[3]W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine’s complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[4]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[5] Ann Landers, Bits & Pieces, September 17, 1992, p. 3.

[6]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[7]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[8]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[9]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[10]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[11]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[12]Adapted from C. Truman Davis, M.D. in The Expositor's Bible Commentary Vol. 8.

 

[13]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[14]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[15]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[16]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[17]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[18]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[19]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[20]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[21]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[22]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[23] Hank Hanegraaf, Resurrection, (Nashville, Tn: Word Pub., 2000) p. 5-6.

[24] Hank Hanegraaf, Resurrection, (Nashville, TN: Word Pub. 2000) pgs. 8-10

[25] Hank Hanegraaf, Resurrection, (Nashville, TN: Word Pub., 2000) pgs 17-22

[26]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[27]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[28]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[29]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[30]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[31]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[32]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[33]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[34]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[35]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[36]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[37]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[38]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[39]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[40]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[41]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[42]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[43]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[44]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[45]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[46]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[47] See Eric Pement at http://www.student.northpark.edu/pemente/nocross.htm