Now while they were staying in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up.” And they were exceedingly sorrowful,” Matthew 17:22, 23 NKJV.
In Him was life…, John 1:4.
At this point in the Lord’s ministry, the disciples had no real understanding of who He was or what He came to do. All they were interested in was political: when would He defeat Rome (as was the expectation at that time), set up His kingdom, cf. Luke 24:21; Acts 1:6, and, at least for some of them, what position would they hold in that kingdom, Matthew 20:20, 21. A lot of their descendants are around today, thinking that the solution to our nation’s problems is political. They’re wrong; the political difficulties we’re having are only a symptom, not a cause.
The Lord told His disciples that there were some things that needed to be done first. He had to die, after being betrayed by one of His own, but that wouldn’t be the end of things. He would be raised up the third day.
It seems that all that the disciples heard was that He was going to die…
…and they were exceedingly sorrowful.
Three men died that day.
Why was His death different? Was it?
- It was a sacrifice.
Instead of a bull or a goat, the Lord Jesus offered Himself. …He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, Hebrews 10:1. In John 10:18, our Lord said, “No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself.“ Had He not permitted it, the authorities could never have laid a hand on Him, cf. John 8:59; 10:39.
Crucifixion was an awful death. It normally took several days of intense suffering for victims to die. But, far short of the time it would have taken for His death to have happened naturally, Jesus said, “It is finished.” It was a statement of completion, of victory. Indeed, when Joseph of Arimathea went in to Pilate requesting Jesus’ body, Pilate didn’t believe that He could be dead so soon. He asked the centurion in charge, who agreed that the Lord was indeed dead. As a centurion, he would have been well-acquainted with what death looked like; he no doubt had seen several – unlike perhaps many today who have never seen a dead body and who doubt His death, believing He only fainted. Jesus laid down His life; it was not “taken” from Him. In John 10:18, He said, “No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power [“exousia” – authority] to lay it down, and I have power [authority] to take it again. This command I have received from My Father,” emphases added.
His death was a sacrifice.
2. His death was a Substitution.
Unlike the two men who died beside Him, Jesus wasn’t there because of His crimes, or sins. He had none. He was, is, and forever shall be holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, Hebrews 7:26. He was there because of our sins.
Nor was He there as a mistake, as some have claimed. He wasn’t simply a martyr, willing to die for what He believed. Though He was indeed “willing” to do that, He was more than that – so much more! He was the Lamb of God. He was born to die. He came into this world to die. But there was more to it than even that – His just dying. In John 10, He said, “The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep,” v. 10. Everything a shepherd does is for the sheep; he spends – “gives” – his life for and to the sheep, taking care of them.
So, the Lord Jesus lived for His sheep as well. His whole life was a sacrifice. We will never know what it “cost” Him, a perfect, sinless, holy Being, to live and walk among sinners like us. Every step He took He was taking for us – His people, His sheep.
His life provides the righteousness we need if we’re ever to stand in the presence of God, ever to enter heaven; His death took care of the fact that we don’t have any righteousness of our own that God will accept.
He was our Substitute
3. His death was a satisfaction.
By this, we mean that His death, in addition to His life, satisfied the requirements of God’s Holy Law. He was and is the only one who could truthfully say, “I always do those things that please Him, John 8:29. The three synoptic Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke – all record the Father’s witness to the truth of this statement: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” Matthew 3:17. See also Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22. The wording might be a little different, but the thought is the same. The Father accepted what the Son did, both in life and in death. We’re to hear Him, Matthew 17:5, not the myriad of other voices in the Christian world, not even Moses and Elijah, v. 3. We’re to trust Him for the salvation of our souls, no one else, typified by Moses or Elijah. God was satisfied with His death. Why aren’t we?
4. His death was sufficient.
By this, we mean that nothing need be added to it. Satan has convinced us otherwise. His minions in clerical garb or others tell us that we have to be baptized. We need to take communion. We need to belong to this church or that church. We need this. We need that. We need this “other”.
There’s a whole [Satanic] world out there telling us with every breath that the death of Christ is not sufficient, or that there are any number of alternate routes to heaven. We must have or do or believe in this other thing, as well. If that is true, (and praise God that it is not!), then there would be no salvation. The price has not been paid; justice has not been satisfied, our sins cannot be forgiven, and there is no hope beyond the grave for any of us.
“It is finished.”
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved,” Acts 16:31.