Ernest Zundel, of Toronto, Canada, was facing the reality of going to jail for two years for spreading false news. Zundel claimed in his books and pamphlets that the Holocaust, Hitler’s murder of six million Jews during WWII, never happened. He claimed to prove that the entire event was a hoax manufactured to discredit Germany. One of the problems for Zundel was all the eyewitnesses who were still around! Many Jews witnessed firsthand the atrocities of the Third Reich death camps and lived to tell about it. It is hard to deny something right after it happens; sometimes it is easier after many years.
Some people want to deny the resurrection of Jesus Christ. After all, they argue, twenty centuries have passed. How can the report be trusted? Well in the first-century hundreds witnessed it, and in the 21st century, millions have been changed by it. What about you?
Today we will gaze on Christ’s work on the cross. First, Christ’s death was a voluntary work (4). Christ’s decision to go to the cross was purposeful and accomplished three things. It is a reminder of God’s love. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15.13). Most of us would be willing to die for our family and possibly a few friends, but for wicked, rebellious sinners? I doubt it! My heart is thrilled to think Jesus died for me out of love!
The cross work also divides men. One of the thieves who rejected Christ spoke angrily to Him slandering and belittling Him. The other thief repented of his sins after recognizing Christ’s deity and authority, and then rested in Him for salvation (Luke 23:39-43). This is a picture of our world today: there are these who will reject and refuse the Savoir. Others will repent, receive and rest upon Him.
The cross work provides salvation. “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:28). We don’t have to hold on to our salvation. We don’t have to work for our salvation. Christ said, “I give unto you eternal life.”
Secondly, Christ’s death was a vicarious work (4). He died in my place, submitting to God’s will. Jesus prayed in the garden “not my will but thine be done.” It was God’s will for Jesus to be the propitiation, the substitute for sinful men. Isaiah 53:10 says, “It pleased the Father to bruise Him.” Jesus paid a debt we couldn’t pay and rescued us.
He died in my place to satisfy God’s word. God had promised in Genesis 3:15, “It [the Seed] shall bruise thy head [a knockout blow], and thou shalt bruise His [Christ’s] heel [temporary affliction].” And at the end of the Old Testament in Malachi 4:2 promises, “The sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings.”
Jesus died in my place allowing me to escape God’s wrath. God the Father’s righteousness and justice demand that He punish sin. Jesus Christ paid for all men, for all time when He endured that wrath. Second Corinthians 5:21 states, “For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” In recent years we have witnessed some big transactions in the airline industry, automotive manufacturing, tech giants, and in the stock market. But the biggest, costliest, and most beneficial transaction of all time took place on Calvary where Jesus was crucified and at the tomb where He rose from the dead! Because there the sins of mankind were exchanged for the righteousness of God.
Then lastly, we see that Christ’s death was a victorious work (4). That is not just a promise about heaven, but a present reality for earth. We must be distinctive from the world. Don’t settle for an average, mediocre Christian life. Romans 12:2 implores us, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Die to people’s comments, whether critical or complimentary. Die to life’s circumstances; there can be such huge fluctuations in life with health, finances, family. Don’t look at the circumstances, look to Christ. And finally, be dedicated to God. Get into His word each day. Develop a commitment to be more scriptural in your thinking, speaking, actions, and companions. “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (I Cor 10:31).