Lk 23:34, “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots” while hanging on the cross, Jesus gave us an example to follow. During His earthly mission He continually asked us to forgive others and now He was forgiving those who were about to end His earthly life, Eph 4:32, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.” The work of His first appearance was not a work of judgment, but one of salvation, Lk 23:42-43, “And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” So, while dying on the cross He demonstrated His willingness to save all who would come to Him, no matter what they have done and no matter what else is happening. Jesus is never too busy to save us.
Jn 19:26-27, “When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.” In telling John to care for His mother, Jesus was also telling us to care for each other. This is the very nature of God’s love; He cares for everyone, even those who hate Him and deny His existence. He wants everyone to feel His love so we will have a chance to accept His salvation. We cannot lead people to Jesus when we are condemning them for their sins. We are to take care of them, showing God’s love for them and when they choose to come to Jesus, they will recognize their own sins and deal with them.
With death approaching, Jesus allows us to experience the horror of being separated from God, Matt 27:46, “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” He wants us to know that nothing in this world comes close to the pain of eternal separation from God. The story of Oscar Wilde’s deathbed conversion, whether true or not, forces us to deal with the question that each of us must face at some point in our lives; will we choose to remain separated from God, or become a member of His eternal family? Feeling Jesus suffering on the cross brought this decision to life for me, “Will I come to Jesus, or not?” This is why the movie ‘The Passion of Christ’ is so painful to watch; it takes us past the intellectual understanding of that moment, into the world of feeling Christ’s pain, we no longer have anyplace to hide from the reality of His sacrifice.
Jesus came to fulfill all that was written in the Old Testament, so we might know He is the Messiah, Ps 69:21, “They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink” and, so Jn 19:28-30, “After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” God’s plan includes our coming to the truth that Jesus is fully God and that He came to offer us salvation. Our souls thirst not for drink, but rather for a relationship with God, Ps 42:1-2, “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God” whether we acknowledge it, or not. Jesus sacrificed Himself so that we might choose to have His blood as a cover for our sins; it is a choice, Ps 32:1, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” His time on the cross was nearing an end and so was the intense humiliation and suffering, which were part of it.
Jesus’ final words are a sign of one who has completed His work, not those of a defeated criminal, Lk 23:46, “And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.” Jesus came to do the will of God, Jn 4:34, “Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work” and all who opened their eyes witnessed not a dying man on that cross, but one who had lived a sinless life of devotion to the will of God, Lk 23:47, “Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man.” Nothing more need be done, God has completed His part of His eternal plan. Now it is up to each of us to decide whether we believe in Jesus and the work He completed, or not.
Jesus came to save, not to condemn, Jn 12:47-48, “And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” We will decide our own eternal future; this life only or hear His words, believe in Him and share eternity with Him as part of His family, Eph 1:13-14, “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” His final word, “tetelestai” cries out to us through all of eternity. The evidence is plain, He was resurrected and it changed the lives of all who saw Him after His resurrection. We have their transformed lives as our witnesses. We can choose to ignore this evidence, but whom does that serve? What is gained by that choice? Do we serve God or man? Paul clarifies this question in, Gal 1:10, “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” Christ died so that we might have this choice.
Jesus death was marked by several miracles, which non-believers have unsuccessfully tried to explain.
Lk 23:44-45, “And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.” This event is well documented in several sources outside of Christianity. None have been able to explain it, for it was not an eclipse.
Matt 27:50-51, “Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;” The veil had separated God from His people and Jesus’ death removed that separation. This separation was established because His people were afraid of God and His miracles, Ex 20:19, “And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” Our separation from God is always our choice.
Matt 27:51, “And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;” This was no small earthquake, rocks were split. This earthquake coincided with Jesus death, some coincidence.
Matt 27:52-53, “And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” People rose from the grave and were seen by many. This is another reason there are no documented lies, from that period, to oppose the Bible’s version of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. There were too many witnesses.
There is a reason Christ died and rose from the grave and that reason is our salvation, 1 Cor 15:12-19, “Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”
No one else could have offered themselves as a sacrifice, for no one else lived the perfect life, Heb 9:12-15, “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” This inheritance is assured because Jesus is fully God and He came to die for us. 1 Cor 15:54, “So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.”
Jesus died so that we might have a choice. Death is not the only option!
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