One of the paradoxes of the Christian faith is that in Christ’s death, His people obtained eternal life. To be more precise: Christ came, live a perfect life, shed His blood, suffered the penalty of sins and God’s wrath, died on behalf of His people, & resurrected on the third day, so that those who trust in Him may have life. Now, the incredible suffering that Christ endured on Calvary was not enough to pay for our sins. The wages of sin is death; therefore, it was also necessary that Christ die.
The DEATH of mankind
Death is the result of God’s judgment against the sin of man. In Genesis 2:17, we read that there was a threat of death upon disobedience. In Romans 5:12, The “one man” is a reference to Adam. It is the clear witness of the Scriptures that death is not a natural phenomenon, but a result of the judgment of God against sin. It entered into the world through Adam’s sin and has passed on to every one of Adam’s descendants because of sin (see also verses 15 and 17).
The Scripture has a clear testimony that death is seen as the result of man’s sin (Ezekiel 18:4, 20, Romans 6:23). Whether it is the imputed sin of Adam or the personal unrighteousness of every person, the principle is the same: all men die because all men sin.
Nevertheless, the death of each man is in accordance with the sovereign decree of God (Hebrews 9:27, I Samuel 2:6). God appointed not only when we are to be born but also when we are going to die.
Now, if we will all die because of our sins, then what is our hope in this life?
THE DEATH OF CHRIST for us
Unlike us who have no control over our death, in fact over our entire lives, Christ is sovereign over His death. The gospels say that “He yielded or gave up His spirit “(Matthew 27:50; John 19:30). He committed His spirit into the hands of His Father (Luke 23:46).
Christ did not die as an unwilling martyr; rather, He willingly gave His life as an atoning sacrifice in His people’s place. He obeyed God even at the point of His death (Phil 2:8).
Another wonder of Christ’s death is that He did not only die for Himself alone. In fact, His death is for His people.
According to Paul Washer, We have violated God’s law and deserve death and hell. Our pardon is impossible unless the penalty for our sins is paid and the just demands of God’s law are satisfied. This is the heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He carried our sin and died in our place, suffering the punishment demanded by a holy God and His righteous law.
The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). This speaks of the necessity of Christ’s death. We cannot pay the penalty of our sins. Our hope is in the death of another. Christ died on the cross on our behalf (I Peter 3:18).
In 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, Paul argues that Christ’s death, burial and resurrection are all according to the Scriptures. Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures (v.3). It was necessary not only that Christ suffered the wrath of God upon Calvary, but also that He actually die for our sins. Christ was buried (v.4). Christ’s burial is mentioned in order to add emphasis to the reality of His death. Christ was resurrected on the third day according to the Scriptures (v.4). We find hope in Christ’s resurrection (v.17).
The following verses are some of the most important verses in Scripture with regard to Christ’s death and its significance for His people.
Romans 5:6-10 NASB 6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous person; though perhaps for the good person someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
The passage above highlights the substitutionary nature of Christ’s death. According to Jamieson-Fausset-Brown, it contains the three signal properties of God’s love. They state, ‘First, “Christ died for the ungodly,” whose character, so far from meriting any interposition in their behalf, was altogether repulsive to the eye of God; second, He did this “when they were without strength” – with nothing between them and perdition but that self-originating divine compassion; third, He did this “at the due time,” when it was most fitting that it should take place…’
Verse 8 is the commendation of love. Spurgeon says that God’s commendation of himself and of his love is not in words, but in deeds; and the highest commendation of love is that Christ Himself died for His people while they were sinners.
This is such a great truth for the redeemed! Spurgeon, calls the believers to reflect and meditate on this truth: When we were sinners, we were sinners against the very person who died for us. “Tis strange, ’tis passing strange, ’tis wonderful,” that the very Christ against whom we have sinned died for us… It is the highest proof of our depravity that we do not at once love the Christ who died for us.1
It was much love when Christ became man for us, when he stripped himself of the glories of his Godhead for awhile, to become an infant of a span long, slumbering in the manger of Bethlehem. It was no little condescension when he divested himself of all his glories, hung his mantle on the sky, gave up his diadem and the pleasures of his throne, and stooped to become flesh. It was moreover, no small love when he lived a holy and a suffering life for us; it was love amazing, when God with feet of flesh did tread the earth, and teach his own creatures how to live, all the while bearing their scoffs and jests with cool unangered endurance. It was no little favour of him that he should condescend to give us a perfect example by his spotless life; but the commendation of love lieth here—not that Christ lived for us, but that Christ died for us.
THE DEATH OF DEATH IN THE DEATH OF CHRIST
Christ in His death triumphed over death! In 1 Corinthians 15:54-57, death is personified as no longer having destructive power over God’s people. Death has no longer sting to the believers.
John Owen in his classic book writes,
"...to taste death, which is to drink the cup due to sinners, certainly for whomever our Savior tasted of it, is to leave not one drop for them to drink after him; he tasted or underwent death in their stead... Now, the cup of death passes only from the elect, from believers; for whomever our Savior tasted death, he swallowed it up into victory."2
II Corinthians 5:14-15 tells us to respond with reciprocal love to Christ in light of His death for us. The Greek implies a love that is jealous of any rival. It is also worth noting that Christ’s love holds and keeps us effectually. Since He died for us, then none can keep us away from Him through the preserving work of the Spirit. The Father sent His Son to die for His people. The Son died the death that His people deserve. The Spirit applied the fruit of Christ’s death to His people that they may be kept forever.
The believers are powerfully kept forever, the second death has no longer power over them. But if you have no benefit in Christ’s death you will have your part in the second death (Rev 20:14).
Reader, may you not take the death of Christ lightly. You will suffer forever if you will not trust in His finished work on the cross for sinners like you and me. Christ died that those who believe in Him might not die but live with Him for eternity. May the Spirit draw you nearer to the cross where Christ has died.
SOLI DEO GLORIA!
Note: This lesson is from our weekly Youth Bible Study Based on Paul Washer’s Discovering the Glorious Gospel.
1 Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Love’s Commendation
2 John Owen, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ p. 178
3 thoughts on “The Son Died”
Reading this makes me realize I still need to read Owen’s classic book!
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Surely, brother. I always go back to it!
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