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    Mar 09, 2016

    Class 2: Jesus' Death on the Cross

    Series: Explaining Christianity

    Category: Core Seminars, Sin, Death of Christ, Atonement, The Fall



    • Restate class "user's guide"
    • What was the most pivotal event of the last century? How about the last millennium? What about in all of human history?
    • Well, according to Christianity, the single most important event in the history of the world was the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  His crucifixion was when he was killed by suffocation on a Roman Cross.  His resurrection was when he got up from the dead three days later.  And it’s to the first of those two that we want to turn to today, as we continue to discover the true meaning of Christianity by looking at the original sources to see what they have to say about the life, teachings, and claims of Christ.
    • Today we’ll explore the question: What is the significance of Jesus dying on the cross?


    • Q:What are we using as our original source and why? Gospel of Mark.  Why Mark? First Gospel written.  Short and concise.  Gospel of action.
    • What does Gospel mean? Good news, particularly the “good news about Jesus Christ the Son of God” – Mark 1:1. To review, Christianity, as the name implies, has Jesus Christ at its core.  Therefore, any thoughtful and thorough study of Christianity must begin with the person of Jesus Christ.
    • Q: What are some of the areas that we saw Jesus having unique authority over as the Song of God?  Jesus was the Son of God, the divine King of the world, who has unique authority:
      • As teacher (taught as one with authority, not as teachers of the Law (1:22))
      • Over evil spirits (evil spirits recognize Christ as Holy one of God capable of driving them out – as occurred in the synagogue in Capernaum (1:26))
      • To forgive sin (2:1-12)
      • Over sickness (heals paralytic by His word!(2:11))
      • Over nature (calms storm in Sea of Galilee, again by His word. (4:35-41))
      • Over death (raises daughter of Jairus (5:21-43))
      • Over people (calls Simon and Andrew (1:16-20))
    • Remember, as we said last week, Christianity rests on three pillars: Deity of Christ, Crucifixion, Resurrection
    • As we turn to our study this morning, we want to consider the death of Jesus Christ.  For the Bible teaches that His death on a cross changed history forever.  But before we read the account of His death, it would be good to define a few terms first.


    • Understanding what sin is, is essential to understanding the crucifixion because the Bible teaches that Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins.  If we don’t understand sin, we won’t understand the cross of Jesus Christ.  We covered sin a bit last week, but today I'd like us to push further on what sin really is and ask ourselves if we're sinful.
    • Q:  Who can remember how we defined sin?
      • An attitude of rebellion against God in thought, word or deed.  It involves a failure to conform to and a breaking of the moral law of God. We don’t do the things we should do and we do the things we ought not to do.
      • Though we will normally try to stay in the gospel of Mark it is also helpful to use Scripture to interpret Scripture, so we will go to a few different passages to help explain the term.
      • Sin in Greek and Hebrew = “missing the mark” (lawlessness, wrongdoing, faithless)
        • 1 John 3:4-5 – “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.  You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.”
        • James 4:17 – “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”
        • Rom 14:23 – “…For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.”
      • Sin is not just words and deeds (do not bear false testimony, honor parents, do not covet/murder), but also occurs in thoughts:
        • Matthew 5: 21-22 – “21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother[a] will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” OR
      • Matthew 5:27-28 – ““You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
      • In fact, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)
        • Sin is a deep personal violation against God’s Holiness. God is our rightful king, as our creator, and our nature is to rob him of His authority. We would rather do what we want, than what God wants.
        • And because of our sin, we stand under God’s judgment.  We need forgiveness.  We need to be reconciled to God.
        • But, of course, God is just.  He won’t simply overlook our sin—because then he would no longer be just!  So how can forgive us without violating his justice?
      • Any questions?

    Death by Crucifixion

    • Q: Crucifixion is a somewhat antiquated term, so before we get into the spiritual implications, could someone explain what it means to be crucified?
      • Crucifixion was a method of execution practiced by Rome and reserved for the worst of lower class criminals.  It usually involved torture first, often by flogging or other means, before one was nailed to a T-Shaped beam.  It was a brutal, slow (could remain alive for days), agonizing death.  Death would usually result by suffocation as the one being crucified could no longer lift himself up to take a breath. 
      • But not only was it a physically grueling way to die, it was also humiliating.  The word “cross” would never be uttered in civilized society. It was contemptible, it was without honor, and was reserved only for the dregs of society (criminals, slaves and traitors).  The cross was detestable, and so it was socially detestable to die by crucifixion.
      • It was also understood as being particularly offensive to Jews, as it showed that the one crucified was under a curse. (Deut 21:22-23)
    • Now that we have defined sin and understand practically what crucifixion is, I think two questions naturally follow:
      • If I’m a sinner in need of forgiveness, how can I be forgiven?
      • If Jesus is God and did no wrong, why was He crucified?
      • I think both questions are answered by looking at the meaning behind the crucifixion.

    The Crucifixion of Jesus

    • For the remainder of the class, I am going to enlist your help reading from the gospel of Mark.  As we read each section, notice what events occur and consider their significance.  After we read each section, I’ll ask us questions to help us think through these two issues.
    • 1) READ Mark 15:16-33: Hours Before Christ's Death

    o   Q: What do we learn first about Christ’s death in verse 33? Darkness came over the whole land.  The 6th hour is noon, so we read that it became dark like night from the 6th hour to the 9th hour, or from noon to 3:00 in the afternoon.

    o   Q: Why might Mark have wanted his readers to know this detail? This supernatural darkness was significant not only because it literally became dark during the height of day (certainly an unusual event), but also because of its symbolism.  Wherever we see supernatural darkness in the Old Testament it is a clear sign of God’s judgment falling.

    o   In one sense, it is clear that God’s judgment is falling upon the land for its rejection of God’s Son, the promised Messiah. However, we should recognize that there is no pool of light on Jesus, even though He’s sinless. The darkness falling on the land is also falling on Jesus. But why? What’s going on here? Why is God’s judgment falling on the innocent Son of God?

    • 2) READ Mark 15:34-37: Jesus’ Cry and Death
      • Q: In verse 34, Jesus cries “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” What do you think Jesus’ cry means?
        • In this passage we see Jesus fulfilling His purpose on earth.  Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into the world and became a human being in order to bear the burden and punishment of our own sin.  That is to say, He had no sin of his own, but he took on Himself the penalty of our own and died in our place as a substitute.
        • This is evidenced by his cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus is expressing the profound horror of his separation from God.  When Christ bore our sins on the cross, his perfect communion with his father was temporarily severed as he died the sinner’s death that we all deserve.  On the cross, Christ not only suffered physical pain and humiliation as we discussed earlier, he took upon himself both the guilt of our sin, and our punishment. God’s wrath was falling on Christ as He was paying the penalty of sin we deserved. Jesus was bearing God’s wrath for us, in our place!
      • To help better understand the concept of Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross, consider the following illustration.
        • Imagine this book represents your life story.  Recorded in this book is every occasion that you’ve broken any of God’s laws in thought, word, or deed.  So your book contains many dark pages as you have either consciously or unconsciously, violated God’s law throughout your life.
        • Left hand (you). The Bible says between us and God is the unfavorable record of our debts (Col. 2:14) (place book on left hand).  So our sins separate us from God.And while the Bible says that God is love, part of His love is expressed in his justice.  He hates evil, and will punish our sin.  So we have two problems:
          • First, we have many sins recorded in our book.
          • And second, God will punish our sins.  So here we stand guilty, condemned before God.
        • Right hand (Jesus). He has a life story as well (place a different book on right hand). But that story doesn’t have a single instance of sin in it. More than that, His story is full of positive, active obedience to God. Not only was Jesus without sin, but he always perfectly obeyed the will of His father. 
        • Transfer Debts. Now while Jesus was on the cross, God took the sins of everyone who would ever believe in him, in every age, and placed them on Jesus (transfer the book).  You could say that on the cross, Christ bore the sins of millions to become the most sinful man the world has ever seen.  So all of God’s wrath, his anger and hatred towards sin that should fall on you and me, was transferred to Christ.  According to the will of God, Christ died as our substitute.  God executed His own Son in order that we might be made righteous before God!  To show that He had completely dealt with our sins and punishment, three days later God brought Him back to life. So how much sin remains between the person who believes upon Christ and God?  None.  Right.  When a person repents of their sin and believes in Christ, his/her sin is transferred upon Christ and they stand before God forgiven, washed and cleansed. 
        • Transfer Righteousness. But not only that, the record of Christ’s righteousness is transferred to the sinner, so that they are counted righteous. This forgiveness, what the Bible calls justification, or being declared in right standing with God, isn’t automatically conferred to anyone, but only to those who repent of their sin and put their faith in Christ’s substitution for them.  We’ll look more at repentance and faith in our final two studies.
      • So why did Jesus die?  He died as a punishment for sin for all of those who trust in His death on their behalf.  He died as a substitute so that believers would not suffer under the condemnation of their own sin, but be restored into proper fellowship with God.
    • 3) READ Mark 15:38-39: Immediately after Christ’s Death
      • Q: What happens in this passage?
      • Temple Description
        • Two rooms: large outer room, followed by a small, inner room called the Holy of Holies.  The inner room was the symbolic dwelling place of God in the OT. Nothing impure could ever enter it.
        • Between the two rooms was a curtain, and this curtain reflected the separation between a holy God and sinful man.  The Holy of Holies was only entered through the curtain once a year when the priest would offer a blood sacrifice to atone for the sins of the people. 
        • Symbolically, the blood of the sacrifice cleansed the priest and the people. The blood provided a way of forgiveness and therefore of fellowship with God.  Hebrews 9:22 reads: “Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” But of course, the blood of animals could never really atone for the sins of people, and so every year the sacrifices had to be repeated.
      • When this curtain tore at Christ’s death, it symbolized the new access we have to God through Christ.  Regular sacrifices are no longer needed.  Christ is now our sacrifice, he has taken our sins, past, present and future and bore them on the cross.  He has made a permanent atonement for our sins and so has opened up a way to God. The significance here is that Christ’s death is what enables us to have a relationship with God, to be in fellowship with him. The book of Hebrews (10:19–22) puts it this way:
        • 19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water..”
      • Tearing of the Temple Curtain symbolizes Christ’s work of redemption, bringing those who believe into communion with God

    ·         4) Mark 10:42-45: Impact of Christ's Sacrifice

    o   To further understand what God did through the resurrection, let’s go back and look at what Jesus said he was there to do back in chapter 10 of Mark.  Let’s turn there now.  We find ourselves in a discussion where James and John have asked Jesus for a prominent position in Jesus’ coming kingdom.  Jesus then corrects their understanding of what he’s come to do.

    o   READ Mark 10:42-45

    §  Q: In the common sense of the word, what does it mean to be a ransom? A ransom represents a payment to claim something or someone who has been lost, captured or enslaved.  In Roman times, for example, slaves could be ransomed.  Or a government could purchase the freedom of a captured soldier by paying a ransom. A slave or a prisoner of war could not free himself. Someone else had to put up a ransom to set him free.

    §  The Bible refers to all men apart from Christ as slaves to sin.  We are in bondage, held captive to sin before a just God who hates and will punish sin. The irony is that the World would tell us the exact opposite. That repenting and believing in Christ is slavery. You can’t indulge in sinful behavior and you’re restrained by the requirements of the Bible. But the word of God paints an opposite picture as we see in Romans 6:20-23:

    ·         “20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

    §  Going back to Mark, what verse 45 reveals to us is that God has purchased our freedom through the death of his Son.  So Christ is our ransom.  On the cross, he paid the debt we were incapable of paying and paid our ransom.  This is the great hope and joy of the Christian, that in his death, Jesus pays the price that sets men free (Romans 8:1).

    §  And notice that he did so freely.  He gave His life as a ransom.  He laid down His life on his own accord, according to the will of God.

        • Jesus Paid Our Ransom
    • 5) Purposefulness of Christ's Sacrifice
      • Now that we understand the significance of the crucifixion, let’s look back and see how Jesus clearly predicted his death.  This was no accident.  The crucifixion was an intentional part of God’s plan to save those who would believe in Him.
      • READ Mark 8:31 – After Peter confessed that he believes Jesus is the Christ, Jesus then “…began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.”
      • READ Mark 9:31 – Jesus “was teaching his disciples, saying to them, ‘The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.’  But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him.”
      • READ Mark 10:32-34 – “Taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him, 33 saying, ‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. 34 And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.’”


    • In Exodus 34, God refers to himself by saying, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty.” (34:6-7).  How can God “forgive iniquity and transgression and sin” and yet “by no means clear the guilty?
    • We asked earlier, “Why was Jesus crucified?”  “Why do Christians glory in the cross?”  We glory in the cross because it is on the cross that the unmerited love and unwavering justice of God is so clearly displayed.  It is on the cross that the guilt and punishment of our sins is dealt with, not by us, but by Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.  On the cross, God poured out his wrath on His Son instead of on us.  Jesus Christ is our substitute, he has ransomed us from slavery to sin and brought us into communion with God.
    • Yet this ransom we all desperately need is not automatically conferred on anyone, but only on those that repent of their sin, and trust in Christ as their substitute.  If you don’t repent and believe, what you are saying to God is: “I’ll bear my sin alone.  I don’t need a substitute, I’ll face you just as I am.”
    • This leaves us with a choice. Will we pay the penalty for our sin ourselves, or will we trust in the payment that Christ has made with his own blood?  We’ll readdress this question in the coming weeks.


    • Any questions?  Next week we’ll consider the third pillar of Christianity, the resurrection.
    • Homework – Read Mark, chapters 6-10