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Why did Jesus Die on the Cross?

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Colossians 1:19-22     May 20, 2007

As we consider the Word of God, I suggest it is just as important (if not more) that we know why God has spoken to us, over what God has spoken.  To know why God has or is doing something over what God has or is doing.

This is especially true when it comes to our salvation.  To know why God has saved us is more important than the bare facts of how to get saved.

Imagine being here in church and you see a nice young visitor.  After the service you shake his hand and start a conversation.  You find out he’s a local artist and has recently graduated from M.I.T. with a degree in chemical engineering.

During your conversation you ask when he was saved or how he became a Christian.  He says he’s not a Christian and that he doesn’t believe in the creation account in Genesis.

More over with his physics and hydraulics background, he finds it hard to believe in a universal flood.  He gives you some other problems he has with the Word of God.

You smile weakly, wondering how you got yourself into this mess and where the pastor has ran off to.  He simply shrugs saying, “I just came to see if it was still the same in church: anti-intellectual, with its feet firmly planted in mid air.”

He then turns and walks out, seeing you have no clue what to say.  This young man struggled with what God said and what God did, impart because he couldn’t understand why God created or why He brought a flood upon the earth.

But what could you have said to this young visitor?  You might begin by asking how life began.  Now he may try to give you an answer that ignores God.

You then point out to him: no one was back there to prove their theories scientifically.  All he can do is hold onto his beliefs, (not as scientific facts) but as a system of faith.

Now if we can view both points of view as a matter of faith; then God as a creator and originator of life, answers all the other questions one might raise about the Bible.

And that includes the most important question of all; “Why did Jesus Christ die upon Calvary?”  You might answer, to pay the penalty for our sins.  And you’re exactly right.  But that answers “what” Jesus did and not the “why” in His death.

Back in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve, they walked with God enjoying the fellowship they had with God, which was the reason why they were created from the beginning.

But sin broke that fellowship and barred them from God’s presence.  The very reason God had created man was ruined by sin.

Why did Jesus die at the cross?  So man may be restored back in fellowship with God as originally in the garden.  By reconciling our relationship with God, (with the effects of the fall reversed) fellowship is restored. 

Eph. 2:16, “And that He might reconcile them both (Jew and Gentile) to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.”

And so for us to understand why Jesus died at Calvary, we must see it was:

I.                  GOD’S PLEASURE TO RECONCILE  (Col.1:19,20b)

Within the overall doctrine of salvation there are five important words:

·                       In justification, the sinner stands before God guilty, but is declared righteous (Rom. 8:33).

·                       In redemption, the sinner stands before God as a slave to sin, but is granted our freedom (Rom. 6:18–22).

·                       In forgiveness, the sinner stands before God as a debtor, but the debt is paid (Eph. 1:7).

·                       In reconciliation, the sinner stands before God as an enemy, but becomes His friend (2 Cor. 5:18–20).

·                       In adoption, the sinner stands before God as a stranger, but is made a son (Eph. 1:5).

Previously, I spoke of the need to put Christ first in our lives.  And again the question is “Why?”.  Phil. 2:13, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.”

God is at work in our lives to bring about His pleasure, just as He was at work in the person of Jesus according to v.19.  Concerning Jesus, the Father’s pleasure was that “all the fullness dwell” in Christ.

It’s this fullness; that makes every aspect of our salvation possible.  Meaning Jesus was fully God as the Heavenly Father is fully God.  Jesus said to see me is to see the Father (John 14:9).

Jesus is not some stepping stone we must step on, in reaching God or finding salvation.  Jesus is more than some ingredient that we throw into the mix.  He is the essence of our salvation that enjoys being reconciled, as well as the other 4 aspects of what it means to be saved.

But notice in v.20, when Jesus died on the cross for sin, He “reconciled all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”

When God created the world in Gen. 1:31, He declared it was very good.  Then the fall took place that led God to put the world under a curse.  And in Romans 8:20-22 we find it is all of creation that groaneth and travileth in pain.

This is the second law of thermodynamics that tells us all things wear down, that the universe is losing its usable energy.

By this curse, we experience earthquakes and volcanoes, hurricanes and tornadoes.  The rose bush has thorns; the bee has a stinger, wild animals are carnivorous.

All of creation longs for their deliverance and reconciliation; which, is the good pleasure of God.  But more over it is part of the why of Calvary in reconciling us to Himself.

Secondly in understanding why Jesus died at Calvary, we must further see:

II.               GOD’S METHOD OF RECONCILIATION  (Col. 1:20a,22a)

God’s methods are accomplished first by, “making peace through the blood of His cross…” and then in v.22, “In the body of His flesh through death…”

God’s methods like God’s thoughts according to Isaiah 55:8 “are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.”

Reconciliation was ordained to be offered to mankind (and all creation) by the death of Christ.  He died that we may live.  By simple faith, (plus nothing) only by having believed in the Gospel, we call upon the Lord to save us.

“Why?” you ask.  Because, before God can enter back into a relationship with man; man’s sin must be removed and cast as far as the east is from the west.

Speaking of Jesus Christ on the cross, Isaiah 53:5 says, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities…”

Jesus allowed His blood to be shed, His body to be broken, all so that we might be saved.  This is the New Covenant or Testament that can never be broken, as it guarantees our salvation. 

No one took His life from Him, but He willingly gave His life as a ransom for sin.

This method of purchasing our salvation, which Paul preached says, it is foolishness to those who are perishing, “…but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18).

It is said, that years ago in a western city, a husband and wife had become estranged and chose to live in separate cities.  The husband one day returned to the city where they both had lived earlier, on a matter of business.

While there he decided to visit the cemetery and the grave where their son was laid.  As he stood over his son, he heard a step behind him.

Turning it was his estranged wife.  Seeing her there was an impulse to turn and walk away.  But they both had a common interest in the grave.

Impulsively they clasped hands over the grave of their son and where reconciled.

Jesus bore our sins in His body to be the mediator that would mend the estrangement between us and God.  By faith we are reconciled to God making peace.

And then lastly, to understand the why of Calvary, we must recognize:

III.           GOD’S PURPOSE IN RECONCILIATION (Col. 1:21,22b)

We are told by King Solomon in Eccles 3:1, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”  There isn’t a single thing God does, without a very good purpose or reason.

God’s purposes are seen in the inability of man to save himself; it’s called total depravity.  In v.21 the word is “alienated” and is a strong word that speaks of a permanent condition.

This permanent condition of alienation exists, when God looks at a sinner. What God sees is a soul whose mind is at enmity with God.  The Scriptures uses the word “evil.”  John 3:19 “and this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil.”

Now if this sounds too strong.  Maybe it’s because, there is a shallow understanding of God’s holiness.  It’s not that God rarely sins; God never sins, He never makes a mistake or has to try at being good.  The reality is that we are all sinners, and that we all fall short of God’s holiness.

But God’s purpose is to reconcile.  God is looking to make friends with all of His creation once again. The universe and more to the point all mankind will be restored to a proper relationship with its Creator.

Any other religious faith will tell you, you have to work at it.  By your good works you earn grace to find salvation.  Where to be free from God’s wrath, others will say, you must be good. And yet nowhere does God tell us by doing good we earn grace.

Eph. 2:8 Paul says, grace is a gift from God.  The Scriptures tells us if we would simply believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and accept His sacrifice to pay the penalty for sin, we shall be saved.

There are some things even from God’s Word we don’t have to understand in order to believe.  I don’t understand how from a spoken word, a physical world came into existence.  Or, how by the Holy Spirit simply overshadowing Mary, she is suddenly with child?  How a dead man can rise from the tomb?

My lack of understanding how such things are possible reveals my finiteness and God’s infiniteness.  I still believe because He is God and not mortal man.

What’s more important is that this all powerful God wants to be our friend; for us to be reconciled to him.  The only question is: “Do you want to be His friend?”

All that you must do then; is to turn to Him as a sinner and accept the gift of Christ dying in your place for sin to appease the wrath of God over your sin.  And call upon the Lord to save you.

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