In this second part, I want to take a more complete look at what the scriptures have to say about the reason and meaning of Jesus’ death. In reviewing the scriptures on the topic of Christ’s death, I have found the need to seperate two similar but distinct issues: 1). Jesus’ personal death on the cross, and 2). Our own identification with his death, so closely that we are said to have been “crucified with him” and to have “died with him” (Romans 6:6, 8, 2 Corinthians 5:14, Colossians 3:3, Galatians 2:20, etc). Our own death with Christ is a direct result of Christ’s personal ministry and death, but they are not the same thing. I want to focus here on the meaning of Jesus personal death on the cross.
“…and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness…” -1 Peter 2:24
“…while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son…” -Romans 5:10
“So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.” -Romans 5:18,19
“…one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.” -2 Corinthians 5:14-15
“…God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ…God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them…” -2 Corinthians 5:18-19
” …He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross…” -Colossians 2:13-14
“For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God…” 1 Peter 3:18
“…you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace…abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity…for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.” -Ephesians 2:13-18
“…through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.” -Hebrews 2:14-15
“…through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption…the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?…since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.” -Hebrews 9:12-15
“…He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” -Hebrews 9:26
“…we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all…” “For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.” “…we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus…” “…having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” -Hebrews 10:10, 14, 19, 22.
“…Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered…” -Hebrews 13:12
There’s a lot there, enough for a lifetime of study. But the theme I notice most is the idea of Christ “reconciling” us to God through his death on the cross. “Sanctification,” or being “set-apart,” is another theme, which I believe is a result of our reconciliation. The Greek word for “reconcile” is katallasso, which basically means a change or exchange. It was reportedly used as a term for changing money and enemies “changing” to friends. A careful look at the scriptures shows that it is only mankind who is “reconciled.” God Himself needed no change, but we did. In a sense, our “reconciliation” consists of our “exchanging” our position of weakness, sin and spiritual death for Christ’s position as son and his spiritual life. There’s no connection with God outside of spirit.
The law brought sin and death; our weak and corrupt flesh responds to it (Galatians 6:8, Romans 7:5-9, 14, 25, Romans 8:2-3, 1 Corinthians 15:56, Galatians 3:10-14, 2 Peter 2:10). This kept mankind from genuine righteousness, or right relationship to God. Christ satisfied and ended – “fulfilled” the law (Matthew 5:17, Romans 8:4), took it away (Colossians 2:14), made us spiritually alive (Romans 8:10, Ephesians 2:5, Colossians 2:13), and gave us peace with God (Romans 5:1). Now, being led by the spirit instead of law (Romans 7:6, Galatians 5:4-5, 25), we are to walk in our position as sons of God (Romans 8:14-16, Galatians 4:6), denying our self/flesh (Matthew 16:24, 2 Peter 2:11), furthering the Kingdom of our Father and honoring Him. It’s not easy, our self/flesh remains corrupt and must be dealt with harshly which is painful and hard, but it’s a glorious calling, and for those who love, it’s worth it.
Romans 7: 6 But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.