Why did Jesus die?

His popularity with the multitudes aroused jealousy in the teachers of the law. There was much muttering. “He is baptizing and everyone is going to him.” Some said He was a good man. No, said others, He is leading people astray. How come He speaks with such wisdom when He has never studied? Could this possibly be the Christ? Surely He is not from God- He has a demon. He is mad. He speaks blasphemously.

A meeting of the Sanhedrin was called.

“What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”

The crowd that had seen Lazarus walk out of the tomb had spread far and wide the word about a miracle worker. This was the last straw. “See,” said the Pharisees, “this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!”

This man Jesus was not to be tolerated.

That much is not surprising. We understand politics, which certainly had a part in His death. But politics was not the real and inescapable cause. There was something far deeper, unimaginably deeper, which we may spend our lives seeking to fathom. It is revealed in Jesus’ words to His disciples at the Last Supper: “This is my body given for you.”

For us. For us who desperately need redemption Jesus gave His body. No one could have taken His life from Him. He laid it down of his own volition, to redeem us, for we had sinned. In the person of Adam we had made a declaration of independence – to “do our own thing” – and this had fallen away from God………

…… He wanted to help us home! Why? There are at least sixteen specific expressions of that divine compassion. I list them in order in which they are found in Scripture:

  1. that we might not perish, but have eternal life
  2. to justify us
  3. to establish His lordship
  4. that we might cease to live for ourselves
  5. to rescue us out of this present age of wickedness
  6. in order that we might attain the status of sons
  7. that we might live in company with Him
  8. to save sinners
  9. to win freedom for all
  10. to make us a pure people, marked out for His own
  11. that we might cease to live for sin
  12. to bring us to God
  13. to do away with sin
  14. to undo the devils work
  15. to bring us life
  16. as the remedy for the defilement of sin

Ezra the prophet, writing four centuries before Christ, knew nothing, of course, of the Cross, but prayed, “Our God, you have punished us less than our sins deserved. Here we are before you in our guilt, though because of it not one of us can stand in your presence.” Nor can we. We have a far greater revelation, in the New Testament, of the enormity of our sin, and we know about the Cross. What shall we do about it?

Matthew and Mark tells us that the two criminals who hung on the crosses beside Jesus heaped insults on Him at first. One of them said, “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other, with new insight, recognizing the justice of his own punishment and the innocence of Jesus, asked to be remembered in the kingdom. “Today,” Jesus said, “you will be with Me in Paradise.”

How shall we respond to this inconceivable sacrifice of love?

Devotional taken from “Secure in the Everlasting Arms”, by Elisabeth Elliot.

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