ok, i admit it- i titled this post in a “controversial way” on purpose. i am hoping that search engines will direct more than a handful of people  here who are searching about jesus and “easter”  so close to the holiday celebrating the death and resurrection of christ.

this easter, as with every other before it, pastors will enter their pulpits to describe in great detail the physical suffering of jesus on that friday. and suffer he did. beaten within an inch of his life, stripped naked for public humiliation and hung on a cross to bleed and choke on his own blood until his body could no longer take the pain, the shock, the infection of being ripped open and shredded, and exposed to the open air, insects, dirt, as well as the spit of his onlookers. the physical sufferings of jesus christ are not to be taken lightly.

but to focus only on the physical sufferings of jesus is to miss the point of his death, indeed of his whole life. jesus was by no means the only person ever to be crucified. in its “heyday” of over 1,000 yrs. (from about 6 b.c. until it was outlawed by constantine in 336 a.d.) some estimate that thousands were crucified on roman crosses. even today in such places as iran, yemen, and ireland crucifixion still occurs. so it was not simply jesus’ physical suffering that provided the sacrifice for sin.

rather it was the wrath of god poured out on his own son that caused the greatest suffering. rom. 6:23 states that “the wages of sin is death”. sin has a wage and it is eternal punishment. it is rather simple- if you sin, even once, then what you have earned (i.e. deserve) is the wrath of god.

eph. 2 says that we are born enemies of god under his wrath because of our sin and rebellion against him. rom. 3 tells us that no one seeks after god on his own. no one is good enough to do what it takes to save himself. indeed the testimony of scripture is that the human heart is wicked and cannot be trusted- even from birth.(see gen. 8:21; psalm 51:5 ; jer. 17:9; rom. 3:9-19,23; rom. 5; eph. 2:1-10)

no one ever taught you how to lie, be selfish, protect yourself at all costs, gossip, etc. it comes “naturally” to us because we are all sinful by nature. i love my son who is not yet 2 yrs. old. i would give my life for him. he is amazing and i would say he is the best and smartest 21 month old who has ever lived. i would never wish any harm on him. i lavish him with love, praise, and gifts. but he is a sinner. it can be seen in his outbursts when he doesn’t get his way, his angry reactions to getting into trouble, how he already knows how to be “sweet” after he has done something he has not supposed to.

as much as i love my son, i am dishonest if i do not admit his “natural” inclination to sin. there is no one who is born righteous. we are not sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners. and god does not cast “sin” into hell, he casts people who did not repent of their sins and place their faith in christ into hell.[see matt.25:31 – 46; matt. 7: 21-23matt. 10: 27-29; john 3:18; 2 thes. 1:8-10;   2 peter 2: 4-10; rev. 20:15; rev. 21:8]

 punishment is what we deserve. the free gift (gift being what we do not deserve) is eternal life. we don’t get eternal life simply because we are more good than bad, try to be good people, or haven’t done any of the “big sins”. we don’t get eternal life because of behavior modification or church attendance. it is only by grace through faith in jesus christ. (eph. 2)

so why did jesus die? read romans 5  for the answer. sin entered the world through adam, but through the death of christ salvation is possible for all who believe (See also john 3).

the death of christ was more than a sad display of a good man who was falsely accused and pitifully died needlessly. it was not just an example of “selflessness”. it was the payment of a price. justice demands that sin be punished, and sin was punished on jesus christ- the wrath of god- the sin that i deserved to pay for and that any christian deserved to pay for was consumed by the wrath of god at the expense of jesus christ. the pain and agony of bearing the wrath of god- undiluted and with more violence than any roman nails could produce- was exhausted on the son of god himself.

*that* is how god demonstrated his great and unfathomable love for us- not by sending his son even when rome, or jewish leaders, or an angry mob might kill him. no, the great love of god is shown in that god himself sent his own son *knowing* and even *ordaining* the events that would kill him so that we may have eternal life.

at this point, i am no longer trying to be controversial- i am only taking scripture at its word. (all itallics mine)

isaiah 53:10 – it was the will of the lord to bruise him…

acts 2:23 – this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you (jews) crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.

acts 4:27-28 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you[god] anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.

pastor john macarthur says this of god ultimatley being responsible for the death of his own son:

The designs of those who killed Christ were entirely murderous. They are by no means exonerated from their evil, just because God’s purposes are good. It was still the act of “lawless hands” (Acts 2:23). It was, as far as the human perpetrators were concerned, an act of pure evil. The wickedness of the crucifixion is in no sense mitigated by the fact that God sovereignly ordained it for good. The truth that it was His sovereign plan makes the deed itself no less a diabolical act of murder. And yet this was clearly God’s holy and sovereign plan from before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8)

god placed the leaders and officials in place that were humanly responsible for carrying out the events that god had foreordained take place. god sent jesus to die. jesus even said this himself.(mark 8: 31-33; mark 10:45; john 10:14-18) jesus came to this earth to give life to those who don’t deserve it- to whoever would repent of their sins and place their faith in christ alone for the forgiveness of their sins and to have his perfect righteousness applied to them so that they may live eternally in peace and joy with god.

jesus’ death was with a purpose and *on* purpose. rather than pitying “poor jesus” who was mistreated, let us fall on our face and thank him, who was sent by the father to die so that we might live- because of his great love, and because of his great glory.

[for further study, download this *free* book, “fifty reasons jesus came to die”]