ˇ°VICTORY THROUGH DEATHˇ± By Pastor YAU
Text: Matthew 27:33-37 April 13, 2014.
1) Death of great men in history: In every culture, every nation, there are important people in that culture and country respected by their people both when they were alive and after their death. These people had extraordinary contribution to their country and their citizens that put them on special honor. But there are some drawbacks on this: a) Most of their importance are limited to particular nation and people, not shared by outsiders. 2) Their importance may fade in the change of time and condition, both cultural or political. That is why you don't see any of those so called ˇ°great menˇ± enjoyed love and respect for long time or by others not in their nation or culture. This is true in all nations, be it in the east or the west, in ancient time or in modern days.
2) Death of the greatest man in history: I am talking about the death of Jesus Christ in ancient Israel over 2,000 years ago. Since his death, his name, his message and his influence had spread all over the world, sweeping across all ethnic, cultural, political and geographic barriers. The few countries that still are closed to his influence did so because they have fear of his influence. In all recorded human history, no other name than that of Jesus Christ enjoys the same level of love, respect and acceptance. The life and death of Jesus has conquered all kinds of people from kings and queens to labors and peasants alike. His teaching and stories have earned all kinds of hearts from innocent children to diehard criminals. His message of love had given energy to those who have lost hope in their lives. Testimonies of changed life may compile volumes of books that may circle the world many times around. No man may fully understand the immense impact of the life and death of Jesus Christ.
DEATH OF JESUS IS VOLUNTARY:
1) It is voluntary by God: ˇ°For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes shall not perish but have eternal life.ˇ± (John 3:16) The starting point of the life and death for Jesus was from the heart of God, and is for the souls of men. No one may ever be able to force God to do this but only God himself made a voluntary decision.
2) It is voluntary by Jesus: ˇ°No one takes it (my life) from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.ˇ± (John 10:18) Some people believe that Jesus has no choice but to die so souls of men may be saved, therefore he didn't die voluntarily but to fulfill the goal of God to save the souls of men. If you believe that Jesus is God, then you know it still is his own choice to die, not by man's sin, but by his own love for man. God doesn't have to love man and to die for man, but chose to do so on his own voluntarily.
3) Voluntary without condition: ˇ°But God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.ˇ± (Romans 5:8) Christ died for the sins of men without any precondition but all by his own choice. No single man made any promise that if Christ died and he would ask for forgiveness of his sin. There wasn't any demand or condition that Jesus must die to fulfill that condition. It was all by his own choice to die for us while we were still sinners. What a daring and loving choice for him to do that.
DEATH OF JESUS IS VIOLENT: (Matthew 27:38-50)
1) Violent death physically: ˇ°When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots.ˇ± (27:35) Crucifixion is the most excruciating and cruel death anyone could imagine. It was one of the most inhumane ways of political punishment the Roman Empire employed to control subjects of their conquered territories. Why did God allowed or designed this extreme way to die for Jesus, no one would know. But it is easy to see that the price God paid for our sins is extremely high and painful so we need to take it seriously.
2) Violent death emotionally: ˇ°Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying: You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross if you are the Son of God.ˇ± (27:39-40) I can't quote all the verses on the insults at Jesus from the soldiers and the people. They did all this to ridicule him, to demean his dignity, to trample his good will and to destroy his self esteem.
3) Violent death spiritually: ˇ°About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?ˇ± (27:46) This is the most serious and painful suffering Jesus was put into during the crucifixion: the spiritual abandonment of God on Jesus while he was carrying all the sins of humanity.
If we understand the extreme suffering Jesus went through in his death in order to save our souls, we shouldn't complain anything when we need to sacrifice our convenience, our time, our service or give of our money to support the ministry of God's church. We can never out-give or out sacrifice anything for God compare to what he has sacrificed for us.
DEATH OF JESUS IS VITAL:
1) Death of Jesus is necessary: ˇ°The law requires that nearly everything must be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgive -ness.ˇ± (Hebrews 9:22) We all know that salvation is free to all men, but it was not free to God. God has to give (the life of) his son so the price of our sins be paid in full. There is no other way or short cut to achieve this goal.
2) Death of Jesus an atonement: ˇ°God presented him as a sacrifice of atone-ment, through faith in his blood.ˇ± (Romans 3:25) An atonement is a sacrifice offered as payment for the sins of a person. Jesus died as an atonement to redeem all men from their sins. Without the atonement, the death of Jesus, no sin can be forgiven and no one may be saved from his sin.
3) Death of Jesus reconciles: ˇ°And in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross.ˇ± (Eph 2:16) Reconciliation is making peace parties used to be on opposite side or were enemies. When we were sinners, we were enemies of God, on the opposite side; but through his death, ˇ°he himself is our peace who has made the two one and has destroyed the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing in his fresh.ˇ± (Eph 2:14-15) The death of Jesus brings man to reconcile with God. This is God's way, the only way.
APPLICATION OF TRUTH:
1) Death of Jesus is victorious: This is about resurrection of Jesus from the dead which we will study in details next week. Death is never final for Jesus, but a process. Death is not a defeat either but a door to victory. Death is the necessary step leading to resurrection that guarantees forgiveness of our sins and eternal life for our soul.
2) Jesus died so we may live: ˇ°For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all that those who live shall no longer live for themselves for him who died for them and was raised again.ˇ± (2 Cor. 5:14-15) This is about our proper response to the death of Jesus: we should no longer live our life for selfish purpose, but for the purpose he died for: to be obedient to God and as witnesses of God's love toward the world. We need to change our purpose of life, ways of life so we may fulfill the purpose God has on us for sending his Son to die for us.