Sunday, March 29, 2015

Why Did Jesus Have to Come and Die?

Jesus Died

Exodus 28:1-43

This Easter season, we shall be centering our thoughts on the person of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. We shall in the next two Sundays consider three great miracles in His life. Today we shall consider the miracle of His incarnation and the miracle of His death. Next Sunday, God willing, we shall consider the miracle of His resurrection.

In the first place, one question stands out to us – we shall seek to answer this question today –Why did Jesus have to come into this world to die? Before we seek to answer this question, let us, using eight (8) sub-topics, seek to examine the person of Jesus Christ. Who is he?

Who is this Jesus?

1. Jesus was born of a Virgin

The Bible records something unusual about the birth of Christ. We have the first mention of His mode of birth in Genesis 3:15 In this verse God says The seed of woman shall crush the head of the serpent.” We know that usually people are identified with their fathers, but Jesus is with the mother and in Isaiah we have a clear prophecy of how this would happen “... the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Emmanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14) This is very specific in that the virgin is referred to. This is the woman of Genesis 3:15.

The virgin birth of Jesus Christ is specifically referred to six more times in the Bible and bearing in mind that these were said during the life time of most of the people who knew Mary the mother there could have risen oppositions and discrepancies if these were not so. The Scripture has no record of such discrepancies. Even the Koran admits this for in Mary v.20 the Koran says “When it was announced to Mary that she would bear a son, she replied, “How can this be, for I am a virgin and no mortal has ever touched me”. The account goes on to say, “It is easy for Me,(the Lord). He then breathed on her His Spirit”.

No evidence has been adduced to oppose this unusual birth. For the first time, a mammal –man became pathogenic in its mode of reproduction. The person so born must be unusual. But does this account for His reason for coming and for His death? No, not all the reason!

2. Jesus Lived a Life of no Sin

In His own words in John 8:46 Jesus asked His critics Which of you convicts Me of sin?” He received no answer when He invited them to accuse Him; He could stay and bear their scrutiny. He was without sin, thus He was able to open Himself in such a manner.

In Luke 4, we read of His temptations but no word is said of His sins. We never heard Him confessing or asking for forgiveness of His sins, although He tells His disciples to do so. It all shows that He had no sense of guilt that accompanies a sin nature.

More conspicuous is the evidence of His friends. Throughout the Bible, the inconsistencies of all persons are brought out. None of the great Jewish heroes are presented without blemish. Not even David or Moses. Even in the New Testament, the short-comings of the apostles are written about in almost every book and yet no where do we find mention of one sin in Christ’s life.

The apostles lived in close contact with Him and would have known His faults:

Peter gave the following testimony of Him “But with the precious blood of Christ as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot” (First Peter 1:19) and in First Peter 2:22 he again said “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth”

John in his own testimony said in First John 1:8-10 “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. And in First John 3:5, he said “And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin” John is saying we are all sinners but He is not.

Judas, the man who betrayed Him said “I have betrayed innocent blood” Matthew 27:3-4

Paul in his epistle Second Corinthians 5:21 says “For He has made Him to be sin, for us who knew no sin”

Why did Jesus Die?
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More important is the evidence of His enemies – 

The robber on the cross said “this man has done nothing wrong” (Luke 24:41)

Pilate – the man who gave Him to be crucified proclaimed “Certainly this Man was innocent” (Luke 23:47)

We are all familiar with the fact that at His trial, His enemies were assembled to bear witness against Him but there were none. (Mark 14:55-56)

History has been the greatest judge. Shakespeare in one of his books said: “the evil that men do lives after them but the good is often interred with their bones” One would have expected history to unearth the evils of Jesus but what do we have?

Philip Schaff in his book “History of the Christian Church” said “There never lived a more harmless being on earth. He injured nobody; He took advantage of no body. He never spoke an improper word; He never committed a wrong action. The first impression which we receive from the life of Jesus is that of perfect innocence and sinlessness in the midst of a sinful world. He and He alone carried the spotless purity of childhood untarnished through His youth and manhood. Hence the Lamb and the Dove are His appropriate symbols.”

Such was the Jesus of Nazareth – a true Man in body, soul and spirit, yet differing from all men; a character unique and original from tender childhood to ripe manhood, moving in unbroken union with God overflowing with love to man, free from every sin and error, innocent and holy, devoted to the noblest ends, teaching and practicing all virtues in perfect harmony, sealing the purest life with the sublimest death, and ever acknowledged since as the one and only perfect model of goodness and holiness.”

Bernard Ramm in his book “Protestant Christian Evidences” writes: “Sinless perfection and perfect sinlessness is what we would expect of God-incarnate and this we do find in Jesus Christ. The hypothesis and the facts concur”

Does this explain why He has to come and die? Yes, but in part. We should expect that such a model of sinlessness and perfection should be preserved and not destroyed.

3. Jesus was supernatural and Performed Great Miracles

When John the Baptist sent his disciples to ask Him if He was the Messiah He replied “Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have the Gospel preached to them.” (Luke 7:22) Thus we see that His miracles demonstrated a great variety of power. Such as power over nature, power over disease, power over demons, power over creation and power over death. The Gospels have a list of His miracles and they show great variety and power.

In the writing of Julian the Apostate – a Roman Emperor from 361-363 AD, he wanted to disprove the power of Jesus. He wrote: “Jesus has now been celebrated about 300 years; having done nothing in his life time worthy of fame, unless anyone thinks it is very great work to heal lame and blind people and exorcise demoniacs in the villages of Bethsaida and Bethany.” He unwittingly ascribes to Christ the power to perform miracles.

What does the Koran say of Him? In Table 5 verse 110 the Koran says “He, Jesus healed the blind, the lepers and raised the dead”. Yes, Jesus lived a life of miracles and a life that is supernatural. Does that account for why He had to come and die? Not all of it!

4. Jesus Was Different From All Other Men

The Koran says in Al-Imam verse 45 “Jesus is the greatest above all in this world and in the world to come”

Carnegie Simpson in His book said “Instinctively we do not class Him with others. When one reads His name in a list beginning with Confucius and ending with Goethe we feel it is an offence less against orthodoxy, than against decency. Jesus is not one of the group of the world’s great. Talk about Alexander the great, and Charles the great and Napoleon the great, if you will Jesus is apart. He is not the Great; He is the ONLY. He is simply Jesus. Nothing could add to that. He is beyond our analyses. He confounds our canons of human nature. He compels our criticism to overlap itself. He awes our spirits”. 

Napoleon Bonaparte is quoted as saying in Encyclopaedia of Religious Quotations as saying: “I know men and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between Him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires but on what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force! Jesus Christ founded His Empire upon love; and at this hour, millions of men could die for Him.”

Rousseau is quoted as asking in Frank Ballard’s Book “Miracles of Unbelief”: “Can the Person whose history the Gospels relate be Himself a man? What sweetness, what purity is His manner? What affecting goodness in His instructions! What sublimity are His maxims! What profound wisdom in His discourses! What presence of mind, what ingenuity of justice in His replies! Yes, if the life and death of Socrates are those of a philosopher, the life and death of Jesus Christ are those of a God.”

Yes, Jesus is all these and more, but do these account for why He came and died on the Cross? Perhaps they have parts of the answer but certainly not all the answer.

5. He Spoke The Greatest Words Ever Spoken

Jesus Himself said of His words: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My word will not pass away.” (Luke 7:46) The authorities of His day sent some people to arrest Him and they came and met Him speaking. When they got back to those who sent them they said; “Never did a man speak the way this Man speaks.” (John 7:46) Great testimony!

In his book, Bernard Ramm also says; “Statistically speaking, the Gospels are the greatest literature ever written. They are read by more people, quoted by more authors, translated into more tongues, represented in more art, set to more music, than any other book or books written by any man in any century in any land. But the words of Christ are not great on the grounds that they have such a statistical edge over anybody else’s words; They are read more, quoted more, loved more, believed more and translated more because they are the greatest words ever spoken. And where is their greatness? Their greatness lies in the pure, lucid spirituality in dealing clearly, definitely, and authoritatively with the greatest problems that throb in the human breast; namely, who is God? Does He love me? Does He care for me? What should I do to please Him? How does He look at my sin? How can I be forgiven? Where will I go when I die? How must I treat others? No other man’s words have the appeal of Jesus’ words because no other man can answer these fundamental human questions as Jesus answered them. They are the kind of words and the kind of answers we would expect God to give, and we who believe in Jesus’ deity have no problem as to why these words came from His mouth.”

Philip Schaff in his own book also said “Systems of human wisdom will come and go, kingdoms and empires will rise and fall, but for all time to come, Christ will remain the Way, the Truth and the Life”.

A. S. Peake in his book “Christianity, Its Nature and Its Truth” said “It is sometimes said, everything that Jesus said had been said before Him by others! Let us grant that it is true, what then? Originality may or may not be a merit. If the truth has already been uttered, the merit lies in repeating it, and giving it a new and fuller application. But there are other considerations to be borne in mind. We have no other teacher who so completely eliminated the trivial, the temporal, and the false from his system, no one who selected just the eternal and the universal, and combined them in a teaching where all these great truths found their congenial home. These parallels from the teaching of others to that of Christ are brought together from this quarter and from that; how is it that none of these teachers furnishes us with any parallels to the teachings of Christ? As a whole, while each of them gives us such truths as he expresses mingled with a mass of what is trivial and absurd; how was it that a carpenter, of no special training, ignorant of the culture and learning of the Greeks, born of a people whose great teachers were narrow, sour, intolerant, pedantic, legalistic, was the supreme religious Teacher the world has ever known, whose supremacy here makes Him the most important figure in the world history?”

Quotations like these will always hunt our minds and only few find the answers. But would they account in full why Jesus had to come and die? No; not in full; not yet!

6. Jesus' Life Had a Lasting and Universal Influence

Philip Schaff in his book, “The Person of Christ” said: “This Jesus of Nazareth, without money and arms, conquered more millions than Alexander, Caesar, Mohammed and Napoleon; without science and learning, He shed more light on things human and divine than all philosophers and scholars combined; without the eloquence of schools, He spoke such words of life as were never spoken before or since and produced effects which lie beyond the reach of orator or poet; without writing a single line, He set more pens in motion, and furnished themes for more sermons, orations, discussions, learned volumes, works of art and songs of praise, than the whole army of great men of ancient and modern times. That ministry lasted only three years and yet in those three years is condensed the deepest meaning of the history of religion. No great life ever passed so swiftly, so quietly, so simply, so far removed from the noise and commotion of the world, and no great life after its close excited such universal and lasting interest.”

Napoleon is quoted to have said in Frank Ballard’s “Miracles of Unbelief” “Christ alone has succeeded in so raising the mind of man towards the unseen that it becomes insensible to the barriers of time and space. Across the chasm of 1800 years Jesus Christ makes a demand which is beyond all others difficult to satisfy. He asks for that which a philosopher may often seek in vain in the hands of his friends, or a father of his children, or a bride of her spouse, or even a man of his brother. He asks for the human heart; He will have it entirely to Himself; He demands it unconditionally, and forthwith His demand is granted. Its powers and faculties become an annexation to the empire of Christ. All who sincerely believe in Him experience that supernatural love towards Him. This phenomenon is unaccountable; it is altogether beyond the scope of man’s creative powers. Time the great destroyer can neither exhaust its strength nor put to limit to its range”.

In Life Magazine, George Buttrick wrote “Jesus gave history a new beginning. In every land He is at home, everywhere men think His face is like their best face and like God’s face. His birthday is kept across the world. His death-day has set a gallows against every city skyline. Who is He?”

The famous Essay “One Solitary Life” states: “Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village. He worked in a carpenter’s shop until He was thirty, and then for three years he was an itinerant preacher. He never owned a home. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put His foot inside a big city. He never travelled two hundred miles from the place where He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself ... While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against Him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a Cross between two thieves. While He was dying His executers gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth-His coat. When He was dead, He was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend. 

Nineteen long centuries have come and gone and today He is the centrepiece of the human race and the leader of the column of progress. I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever were built; all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life.”

“The Incomparable Christ,” another vivid essay states:

“More than nineteen hundred years ago there was a Man born contrary to the laws of life. This Man lived in poverty and was reared in obscurity. He did not travel extensively. Only once did He cross the boundary of the country in which He lived; that was during His exile in childhood.

He possessed neither wealth nor influence. His relatives were inconspicuous and had neither training nor formal education. In infancy He startled a king; in childhood He puzzled doctors; in manhood He ruled the course of nature, walked upon the billows as if pavements, and hushed the sea to sleep. He healed the multitudes without medicine and made no charge for His service.

He never wrote a book, and yet all the libraries of the country could not hold the books that have been written about Him. He never wrote a song, and yet He has furnished the theme for more songs than all the songwriters combined.

He never founded a college, but all the schools put together cannot boast of having as many students.

He never marshalled an army, nor drafted a soldier, nor fired a gun; and yet no leader ever had more volunteers who have, under His orders, made more rebels stack arms and surrender without a shot fired.

He never practiced psychiatry; and yet He has healed more broken hearts than all the doctors far and near. Once each week the wheels of commerce cease their turning and multitudes wend their way to worshipping assemblies to pay homage and respect to Him.

The names of the past proud statesmen of Greece and Rome have come and gone. The names of the past scientists, philosophers, and theologians have come and gone; but the name of this Man abounds more and more. Though time has spread 1900 years between the people of His generation and the scene of His crucifixion, yet He still lives. Herod could not destroy Him, and the grave could not hold Him.”

Yes, even you and I are gathered here today as an evidence of His influence in our lives. But does that answer the entire question –why did He come to die on the Cross? I guess not!

7. Jesus Satisfies The Spiritual Hunger Of Man

In Matthew 5:6 we read: “Blessed be those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be satisfied”; and in John 7:37 we have the answer to who satisfies for it says: “Jesus said, If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink” and this drink truly satisfies for John 4:14 records “But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst”. He also gives peace. John 14:27 says “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you, not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, nor let it be fearful”. He satisfies even hunger. John 6:35 says: “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” He gives relief to all burden “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28; and He gives life abundant “I came that they might have life and might have it abundantly” (John 10:10)

Lives of people have given testimony that these are not empty boasts. Some of us here can testify that Christ has meant all these to our lives.

George Sahlweltzer in his personal testimony says: “Man has changed his world in a remarkable way, but has not been able to alter himself. Since this problem is basically a spiritual one and since man is naturally bent towards evil, (as history attests) the sole way that man can be changed is by God. Only if man commits himself to Christ Jesus and submits himself to the Holy Spirit for guidance can he be changed. Only in this miraculous transformation rests hope for the atom-awed, radio-activity-ruffled world of our day and its inhabitants.”

R. L. Mixter –Professor of Zoology at Wheaton College said: “When he follows the creed of his profession, a scientist believes what he does because of the evidence he can find. I became a Christian because I found in myself a need which could be satisfied only by Jesus Christ. I needed forgiveness and He gave it. I needed companionship and He was a Friend. I needed encouragement and He provided it.”

A Public Relations Advertising Woman – Franklin Allmitt says, “then I asked Jesus to come into my life and dwell there. For the first time in my life I experienced complete peace. The life time of emptiness I had known was removed and I have never felt alone since”

Jesus has satisfied and is satisfying the needs of thousands of people who come to Him – but does that explain why He has to die? I'm not quite sure it does.

8. Jesus Truly Died But Exercised A Power Over Death

Jesus was not forced to die. John 10:18 records this for us “No one has taken it (My life) away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father” We see that Christ willingly died for the sins of man.

W. H. Griffith Thomas in his book “Christianity is Christ” said “It was not the death of a suicide, for He did say, “I lay down My life of Myself” The death was purely voluntary. It is we who ought to suffer. He need not have suffered. A word from Him might have saved His life. Nor was it an accidental death, for the obvious reason that it was foreseen, foretold and prepared for in a variety of ways. Again, it was certainly not the death of a criminal, for no two witnesses could be found to agree together as to the charge against Him. Pilate declared that he found no fault in Him, and even Herod had not a word to say against Him. This, then was no ordinary execution.”

The important question then still remains not fully answered. Why did He have to die?

Why Did Jesus Have To Die?

In the passage we read in Exodus 28, we see God describing Aaron as a priest and the priest had some three main responsibilities. 

I. In verse 12, we see the priest bearing the names of the children of Israel before God for remembrance on His shoulders. 

II. As in verse 29; Aaron, that is the high priest, is to bear the names of the sons of Israel in the breast piece of judgment upon his heart, when he goes to the holy place to bring them to continual remembrance before the Lord

III. And in Verse 38 we read: “It shall be upon Aaron’s forehead and Aaron shall take upon himself any guilt incurred in the holy offering which the people of Israel hallow as their holy gifts; it shall always be upon his forehead, that they may be accepted before the Lord.”

These are real great responsibilities. If we read further to Chapter 29 we see that Aaron is not able to carry out these responsibilities because his own sins had to be borne by somebody else. So he had to offer sacrifices for his own sins.

In effect, God was looking for a man to stand as the stop-gap and help reconcile the people to Himself. Sin has to be atoned for if the sinner is to be saved. So in effect God needed an effective High Priest and an effective Lamb for sacrifice. Christ became the Lamb when He took up the flesh and became the High Priest on the Cross when He sacrificed Himself on the Cross.

Let us make this clearer with this illustration. Imagine you are watching a farmer plough the field. You noticed an ant hill will be ploughed under by the farmer on his next time around. You also noticed that the ants were busy building the ant hill. Because you are an ant lover, you run to the ant hill to warn them. First you shout to them the impending danger but they continue with their work. You then try sign language and finally resort to everything you can think of, but nothing works. Why? Because you are not an ant; and you are not communicating with them. What is the best way to communicate with them? Only by becoming an ant can you communicate with them so they can understand. This is what God did. He wanted to communicate with us we didn’t understand, so His best way of reaching us is to become man and thus reach us directly. Man could not have been saved by the blood of rams – it is the blood of a sinless man that could atone for the sins of the sinners, there was none and so God in flesh offered His own blood. So He came to save us and died that we might live.

God bless you all.

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