CHRIST, death of
I read about a small boy who was consistently late coming home from school. His parents
warned him one day that he must be home on time that afternoon, but nevertheless he
arrived later than ever. His mother met him at the door and said nothing. At dinner that
night, the boy looked at his plate. There was a slice of bread and a glass of water. He
looked at his father's full plate and then at his father, but his father remained silent.
The boy was crushed.
The father waited for the full impact to sink in, then quietly took the boy's plate and
placed it in front of himself. He took his own plate of meat and potatoes, put it in front
of the boy, and smiled at his son. When that boy grew to be a man, he said, "All my
life I've known what God is like by what my father did that night."
When Lincoln's body was brought from Washington to Illinois, it passed through Albany
and it was carried through the street. They say a black woman stood upon the curb and
lifted her little son as far as she could reach above the heads of the crowd and was heard
to say to him, "Take a long look, honey. He died for you". So, if I could, I
would lift up your spirit to see Calvary. Take a long look, He died for you.
Craig Glickman, Knowing Christ, p. 89.
For family devotions, Martin Luther once read the account of Abraham offering Isaac on
the altar in Genesis 22. His wife, Katie, said, "I do not believe it. God would not
have treated his son like that!" "But, Katie," Luther replied, "He
W. Wiersbe, The Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching &
Preachers, p. 191.
She was only a tiny girl, unused to traveling, and it happened that in the course of
the day, her train crossed two branches of a river and several wide streams. The water
awakened doubts and fears in the child. She did not understand how it could be safe to
cross. As they drew near the river, however, she saw a bridge across a body of water. Two
or three times the same thing happened: finally, the child leaned back and relaxed.
"Somebody has put bridges for us all the way!" she sighed with relief.
If you were to look at Rembrandt's painting of The Three Crosses, your attention would
be drawn first to the center cross on which Jesus died. Then as you would look at the
crowd gathered around the foot of that cross, you'd be impressed by the various facial
expressions and actions of the people involved in the awful crime of crucifying the Son of
God. Finally, your eyes would drift to the edge of the painting and catch sight of another
figure, almost hidden in the shadows. Art critics say this is a representation of
Rembrandt himself, for he recognized that by his sins he helped nail Jesus to the cross.
During the Middle Ages there was a popular story which circulated about Martin of
Tours, the saint for whom Martin Luther was named. It was said that Satan once appeared to
St Martin in the guise of the Savior himself. St. Martin was ready to fall to his feet and
worship this resplendent being of glory and light. Then, suddenly, he looked up into the
palms of his hands and asked, "Where are the nail prints?" Whereupon the
In his book Written in Blood, Robert Coleman tells the story of a little boy whose
sister needed a blood transfusion. The doctor explained that she had the same disease the
boy had recovered from two years earlier. Her only chance for recovery was a transfusion
from someone who had previously conquered the disease. Since the two children had the same
rare blood type, the boy was the ideal donor.
"Would you give your blood to Mary?" the doctor asked. Johnny hesitated. His
lower lip started to tremble. Then he smiled and said, "Sure, for my sister."
Soon the two children were wheeled into the hospital room--Mary, pale and thin; Johnny,
robust and healthy. Neither spoke, but when their eyes met, Johnny grinned. As the nurse
inserted the needle into his arm, Johnny's smile faded. He watched the blood flow through
With the ordeal almost over, his voice, slightly shaky, broke the silence.
"Doctor, when do I die?'
Only then did the doctor realize why Johnny had hesitated, why his lip had trembled
when he'd agreed to donate his blood. He's thought giving his blood to his sister meant
giving up his life. In that brief moment, he'd made his great decision. Johnny,
fortunately, didn't have to die to save his sister. Each of us, however, has a condition
more serious than Mary's, and it required Jesus to give not just His blood but His life.
STATISTICS AND STUFF
Why did the Father will the death of his only beloved Son, and in so painful and
shameful a form? Because the Father had "laid on him the iniquity of us all"
(Isa. 53:6). Jesus' death was vicarious (undergone in our place) and atoning (securing
remission of sins for us and reconciliation to God). It was a sacrificial death,
fulfilling the principle of atonement taught in connection with the Old Testament
sacrifices: "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins"
(Heb. 9:22; Lev. 17:11).
As the "last Adam," the second man in history to act on mankind's behalf,
Jesus died a representative death. As a sacrificial victim who put away our sins by
undergoing the death penalty that was our due, Jesus died as our substitute. By removing
God's wrath against us for sin, his death was an act of propitiation (Rom. 3:25; 1 John
2:2,; 4:10 --"expiation," signifying that which puts away sin, is only half the
meaning). By saving us from slavery to ungodliness and divine retribution for sin, Jesus'
death was an act of redemption (Gal. 3:13; Eph. 1:7; 1 Pet. 1:18-19). By mediating and
making peace between us and God, it was an act of reconciliation (Rom. 5:10-11). It opened
the door to our justification (pardon and acceptance) and our adoption (becoming God's
sons and heirs -- Rom. 5:1,9; Gal. 4:4-5).
This happy relationship with our Maker, based on and sealed by blood atonement, is the
"New Covenant" of which Jesus spoke in the Upper Room (1 Cor. 11:25; Matt.
James Packer, Your Father Loves You, Harold Shaw Publishers, 1986.