Statement of Faith Current Teaching Teaching Index
Death of Christ – Part One
October 2017

   The incident

   The impact

   The importance

   The mandate

Let us start this teaching by examining the series of events leading to the death of Christ.  Due to jealousy, conviction and fear the Jewish leaders through the betrayal by Judas Iscariot decided to have Jesus arrested, tried, convicted and crucified.  Below is a general outline of these events.[i]

*      The Last Supper – Matthew 26:20-30; Mark 14:17-26; Luke 22:14-38; John 13:21-30

*      The Garden of Gethsemane – Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-45

*      Jesus’ Betrayal and Arrest – Matthew 26:47-56; Mark 14:43-52; Luke 22:47-53; John 18:1-11

*      The Religious Leaders Condemn Jesus – Matthew 27:1-2; Mark 15:1; Luke 22:66-71

*      6 a.m. – Jesus Stands Trial Before Pilate – Matthew 27:11-14; Mark 15:2-5; Luke 23:1-5; John 18:28-37

*      Jesus Sent to Herod – Luke 23:6-12

*      7 a.m. – Jesus Returned to Pilate – Luke 23:11

*      Jesus is Sentenced to Death – Matthew 27:26; Mark 15:15; Luke 23:23-24; John 19:16

*      8 a.m. – Jesus is Led Away to Calvary – Matthew 27:32-34; Mark 15:21-24; Luke 23:26-31; John 19:16-17

*      9 a.m. – “The Third Hour” – Jesus is Crucified on the Cross – Mark 15:25 – The third hour is 9 a.m.

*      The Soldiers Cast Lots for Jesus' Clothing – Psalm 33:18; Matthew27:35; Mark 15:24

*      10 a.m. – Jesus is Insulted and Mocked – Matthew 27:39-40: Mark 15: Luke 23:36-37

*      11 a.m. – Jesus and the Criminals – Luke 23:40-43

*      Jesus Speaks to Mary His mother and John the beloved disciple – John 19:26-27

*      Noon – “The Sixth Hour” – Darkness Covers the Land – Mark 15:33

*      1 p.m. – Jesus Cries Out to the Father – Matthew 27:46

*       Jesus is Thirsty - John 19:28-29 – Jesus knowing that everything was now finished, and to fulfill all the Scriptures He said, “I am thirsty.”

*      2 p.m. –  Jesus said “It is Finished” – John 19:30a

*      3 p.m. – “The Ninth Hour” – Jesus gives up the ghost – Luke 23:46

Events Following Jesus' Death

*      The Earthquake – Matthew 27:51-52

*      The Soldier Pierces Jesus Side to assure He was dead – John 19:34

*      Jesus, was laid in the Tomb – Matthew 27:57-61; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42

*      3 days later – Jesus rose from the Dead – Matthew 28:1-7; Mark 16:1; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-9

The question now becomes why?  What was the motivation for this amazing sacrifice we call the atonement.  The following verses hold the answer, “By this we know love, because He laid down his life for us.” Why do we know love?  Because He died for us! In this verse, the “He” refers to Jesus the Christ. Look also at Romans 5:6–8, “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” In 1st John 4:9–10, John says, “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. And finally, John 3:16, which many Christians know well, Jesus said; “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” You cannot discuss the Death of Christ and what it brought without discussing the “Love of God.” For Love can only be known by the actions it prompts!

The Love of God which brought us the atonement is the outward expression of a perfect, Holy being to an imperfect, unholy, sinful, and unworthy mankind whose righteousness is like filthy rags before God (Ref. Isaiah 64:6). And whose end is death (eternal damnation, in outer darkness) [Ref. Matthew 8:12; 22:13; 25:30].

This act of God’s love (Agape in the Greek) which forced God to send forth His Son to die on Calvary’s Cross achieved four wonderful and eternal accomplishments.  These accomplishments are accessible to whoever comes to the cross in faith. These four accomplishments are:

1. Propitiation

2. Redemption

3. Justification

4. Reconciliation

Let’s look a little closer at these four wonderful accomplishments Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary brought us.

1.      Propitiation (hisaskomai).   Means to appease or pacify anger. If we are to develop a truly biblical doctrine of propitiation, it will be necessary to look at three points concerning propitiation: why propitiation is necessary, who made it, and what the propitiation was.  

  1. Propitiation is necessary because it focuses on the wrath of God that was and still is directed toward man because of man’s disobedience to His laws and precepts3.  Disobedience is sin! Sin arouses the wrath of God; this wrath brings the judgment of God upon the sinner, “for the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Ref. Romans 6:23). This is why propitiation is necessary.  “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (1st John 3:36).  “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in un-righteousness” (Ref. Romans 1:18).  “Therefore, put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.  Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience” (Colossians 3:5–6).
  2. Who made the propitiation? Propitiation is never used of any act whereby man brings God into a favorable attitude or gracious disposition, but it is always used in relation to all actions taken by God whereby, He brings man into a favorable relationship with Himself.  It is God who is propitiated (appeased or satisfied) through the provision He made in the sacrifice of His only begotten Son. God has so dealt with sin that He can show mercy to a believing sinner in the removal of all his guilt and the remission of all his sins. The primary principle on which God deals with sinners is expressed in the words “apart from shedding of blood” (unless a death takes place) “there is no remission” or as some translations put it “no forgiveness from sins” (Ref. Hebrews 9:22). 

Now let us look at a few verses that will help us to further answer the question, who made the propitiation?

“For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11).  “Whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed” (Romans 3:25).  “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that God loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1st John 4:10).

P. T. Forsyth expresses the act of propitiation like this, “the atonement [Christ’s sacrificial death] did not procure grace. It flowed from grace.”[ii] God does not love us because Christ died for us; Christ died for us because God loved us! If it is God’s wrath that needed to be propitiated, it is God’s love that did the propitiating. Let us be clear. It was not propitiation that changed God’s wrath to love or our sin that changed God’s love to wrath. God’s nature is unchanging. What the propitiation changed was the way God deals with mankind. “The distinction I ask you to observe” wrote P. T. Forsyth, “is between a change of feeling and a change of treatment... God’s feeling toward us never needed to be changed. But God’s treatment of us, God’s practical relation to us—that had to change.”[iii]

  1. What was the propitiatory sacrifice? It was neither an animal, nor a vegetable, nor a mineral. It was not a thing at all, but a person!  The person God offered was not somebody who was distinct from or external to Himself.  No, He offered Himself.  He gave His only begotten Son.  Look once again at 1st John 4:10, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He (God) loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”  So then, God Himself is at the heart of the answer to all three questions regarding propitiation.  It was God Himself who because of His Holy wrath toward man’s sinfulness, needed to be appeased.  God Himself who in holy love for His creation undertook the propitiating, and God Himself who in the person of His Son sacrificed Himself for that appeasement. In other words, God out of His pure nature of love took the initiative to appease His own righteous anger by bearing the act of propitiation upon Himself, through the atonement of His son, Jesus.  Jesus suffered and died so we did not have to.

2.      Redemption (apolytrosis).   While propitiation focuses on the wrath of God, which was appeased by the cross, redemption focuses on the plight of sinners from which they were ransomed by the cross. Ransomed is the correct word. The Greek words lytroo (usually translated as redeem) and apolytrosis (redemption) are derived from the word lytron (a ransom or the price of release), which was almost a technical term in the ancient world for the purchase or formal releasing of a slave.  Warfield explains redemption by saying, “A redemption without a price paid is as anomalous (unusual) a transaction as a sale without money passing.”[iv]  Redemption encompasses three important parts:

1.      The desperate plight of the sinner.

2.      The price needed to purchase our freedom.

3.      The person who did the redeeming.

Let’s look at some verses that show us the desperate plight of the sinner.

A.   Sinners are Spiritually Dead.

  1. Genesis 2:17 “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
  2. Proverbs 8:36 “But he who sins against me wrongs his own soul; All those who hate me love death.”
  3. Ezekiel 18:4Behold, all souls are Mine; The soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine; The soul who sins shall die.” (Refer also to James 1:15 and 5:20.)

B.     Sinners are Separated from God.

  1. Isaiah 59:2 “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.”
  2. Ephesians 2:13–18 “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near.”

C.    Sinners have no Means of Escaping the Curse of sin on their own.

  1. Hebrews 2:3 “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him?”
  2. Hebrews 12:25 “See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven.”

Now let us take a look at what the price of our redemption was.  To begin with, there was the enormous cost of the incarnation.  God gave up eternity and all the glories of heaven and entered into our human condition, but not as a ruler or an equal, but as a servant (Philippians 2). We are told that when God sent His Son, He was “born under the law, to redeem those under the law” (Ref. Galatians 4:4, 5).  Then there was the cost of the atonement which entailed taking on the weight of the sins of mankind which encompassed tremendous suffering and a horrible painful death. To accomplish this He gave “Himself” or His “life,” dying under the law’s curse to redeem us from it. “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’)” (Galatians 3:13).

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).  “For if when 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” (Romans 5:10) [Also refer to Ephesians 1:7, and Titus 2:4].

As we have already seen Jesus was the person that did the redeeming. Therefore, the act of paying our ransom by His own death gives Him exclusive rights over His purchase. Thus, Jesus’ lordship is directly attributed to our plight and the price He paid to obtain our release. With that said let me ask a question.  If we were worth the cost, is He not worth our love and labor?

Just to reiterate what has been said, because it is so very important to do so, the Lord Jesus Christ has purchased our salvation with His life, and as a result we belong to Him. Should this not motivate us as individual Christians to strive to obtain holiness, and to give Him all praise and worship? 

The two accomplishments we have so far considered have led us into the temple precincts (Propitiation), because that is where we must go to appease the wrath of God. And the market place (Redemption), where the price for our freedom from sin was paid. 

3.      Justification (dikaioo).  The third accomplishment (Justification) will take us into the courthouse, for justification is the opposite of condemnation (Romans 5:18, 8:34). Both are verdicts of a judge who pronounces the accused either guilty or not guilty. Justification is pronouncing one righteous or to acquit one of guilt.  Its precise meaning is determined by that of the verb dikaioo, which means to justify. It is used only twice in the New Testament, both in the epistle to the Romans (4:25, 5:18). It denotes the establishment of a person as just by acquittal from guilt.  In Romans 4:25 the phrase “for our justification,” which is literally translated “because of our justification,” simply means that whatsoever was necessary for God to do in order to establish our justification, God accomplished through the death of His only begotten Son. Put simply, justification means, “Christ took our place and we took His.”  To define justification in another way look at 2nd Corinthians 5:17-18a “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (18) Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ.” This leads us directly into the fourth accomplishment of salvation.



[i] General timeline of Jesus' Final Hours – Mary Fairchild, About.com

[ii] P.T. Forsyth, Cruciality of the Cross, (Wipf & Stock Publishers, January 1, 1997).

[iii] P.T. Forsyth, The Work of Christ, (Wipf & Stock Publishers, July 1, 1996).

[iv] B.B. Warfield, The Person and Work of Christ, (Presbyterian & Reformed Pub. Co., 1950).

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