The trial was illegal, the charges were false, and the witnesses were paid to lie. From every human point of view, the death of Jesus Christ was a triumph of injustice and inhumanity. Yet–He died willingly. He could have commanded the armies of heaven to rescue Him, but He refused. Instead, He surrendered Himself into the heands of wicked me; and He willingly died on the cross. Why did Jesus? There are at least three answers to that question.
1 John 4:9 gives us the first answer: “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” Jesus died that we might live through Him.
The Bible pictures the condition of the sinner in many ways. Jesus compares us to lost sheep, or to sons who have rebelled and left home. We are described as prisoners, bound by the chains of our own sins, or as blind men groping about in the darkness. But often in the Bible we are compared to dead men. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die,” said the prophet. “And you hath he made alive who were daed in trespasses and sins,” Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:1.
The comparison between physical death and spiritual death is not too difficult to grasp. A man who is physically dead does not respond to physical things. He has no appetite for food; he has no ability to work; he does not even respond to your voice or touch. So it is with the person who is spiritually dead; he does not respond to spiritual things. He can read the Bible and see the words, but never understand the truth. He can sing hymns in a church service, but his heart does not understand them. He has no appetite for spiritual food or fellowship. The spiritually dead man does not respond to spiritual things.
Now, what does a dead man need? He needs life! Not religion, or reformation, but resurrection! And life is exactly what Christ gives us when we turn to Him by faith. “He that heareth my word and believeth on him that sent me hath everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but is passed from death into life” (John 5:24). That is resurrection.
Christ died that you might live through Him. He bore the shame and penalty of our sins that He might forgive us and give us His eternal, abundant life. “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.”
Christ died that we might live through Him; but He also died that we might life for Him. “And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again” (II Cor. 5:15).
Selfishness lies at the root of sin. Because our first parents selfishly wanted something for themselves, they plunged the whole of humanity into sin and death. We want things to go our way and satisfy our desires. Selfishness breaks up homes; selfishnss alienates friends; selfishness causes wars.
The only real cure for selfishness is love, and the only way to get this love is through Jesus Christ. “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given unto us” (Romans 5:5). When a person becomes a Christian, love becomes the motivating force of his life. “We know that we have passed from death unto live because we love the brethren” (I John 3:14). “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35).
Christ died my death for me that I might live His life for Him. He died to liberate me from a selfish, narrow existence, into a full and free experience of sharing with others. In Christ there is no such thing as rich or poor, bond or free, high or low. We are all one in His love.
Years ago, the Salvation Army was holding an international convention; and their founder, Gen. William Booth, could not attend because of physical weakness. He cabled his convention message to them. It was one word: OTHERS.
Are we living for others? If not, then Jesus died in vain, because He died for us that we might not live for ourselves, but for Him and for others.
Christ died that we might live through Him–that’s salvation; and Christ died that we might live for Him–that’s service. But there is a third reason why Jesus died. “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him” (I Thess. 5:9-10). He died that we might live with Him.
That is what He promised His disciples that last evening before He went to the cross. “In my Father’s house are many dwelling-places. I go to prepare a place for you.” Jesus prayed to His Father, “Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory” (John 17:24).
At the beginning of human history, man and God lived together in harmony. Then sin’s earthquake created a vast gulf between man and God. But Jesus the carpenter built a bridge across that chasm, and through His death on the cross brought men back to God. And now as believers, we need never fear death, because Christ has promised us a home in heaven. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6).
Christ left His home that you and I might have a home. While here on earth, He had no place that He could call home, no place to lay His head. He became poor to make us rich. He was made lower than the lowest that one day we might be lifted higher than the heavens. He went through suffering that we might share glory. He died that we might live with Him.
There is a life after death, an eternity after time. And you will spend that eternity either at hom with Christ in glory, or separated from Christ in darkness and pain. Often people say, “I can’t believe in a God who would prepare a place like hell for people to suffer in forever.” I usually reply, “No, neither can I; because God did not prepare hell for people–He prepared it for the devil and his angels. But Christ is preparing a glorious home for those who will yield to Him.”
One of these days soon, God is going to call His family home. I have a title deed to a home in heaven, not because of anything I am or I have done, but because Christ died for me and I have trusted Him as my Savior.
Jesus died that you might live through Him, for Him, and with Him. Are you trusting Him?
Copyright, Warren W. Wiersbe
This material originally appeared in Songs in the Night.
Not to be reproduced or copied without permission of 2ProphetU.
Dr. Warren Wiersbe (1929-2019) was an internationally known Bible teacher, author, and conference speaker. He graduated in 1953 from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Lombard, Illinois. While attending seminary, he was ordained as pastor of Central Baptist Church in 1951 and served until 1957. From September 1957 to 1961, Wiersbe served as Director of The Literature Division for Youth for Christ International. From 1961 to 1971 he pastored Calvary Baptist Church of Covington, Kentucky south of Cincinnati, Ohio. His sermons were broadcast as the “Calvary Hour” on a local Cincinnati radio station. From 1971 to 1978, He served as the pastor of Moody Church in Chicago 1971 to 1978. While at Moody Church he continued in radio ministry. Between August 1979 and March 1982, he wrote bi-weekly for Christianity Today as “Eutychus X”, taught practical theology classes at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and wrote the course material and taught a Doctor of Ministry course at Trinity and Dallas Seminary. In 1980 he transitioned to Back to the Bible radio broadcasting network where he worked until 1990. Dr. Wiersbe became Writer in Residence at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids and Distinguished Professor of Preaching at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. In his lifetime, Dr. Wiersbe wrote over 170 books—including the popular Be series, which has sold over four million copies. Dr. Wiersbe was awarded the Gold Medallion Lifetime Achievement by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA).