In our investigation into the death of Christ, I would like to draw a little from the teachings of the Apostles, who were commissioned by the Lord Jesus Christ to convey the deep truths of Himself to the believers by the Holy Spirit. (John 16)
In this article I will begin with Ephesians 5:1 “ Walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God”
This gives special light as to the spiritual aspect of Christ dying on the cross.
1st It was motivated by love
2nd He voluntarily gave Himself
3rd It was on behalf of others
4th Beyond the shame of crucifixion, there was somehow a fragrance
5th It was an offering, a present to God
6th It was a sacrifice achieving atonement
7th It was to God
This dispels the notion that His death was only an example for us, or that it was a mistake, or a failed mission. It implies that His death is better understood from the types and symbols of the Old Testament linked to the Temple services. This changes the cross to an alter, from something of shame to that of a sweet smelling fragrance . This aspect of the death of Christ provides the basis for God to invite the unworthy, the offender, the transgressor to return and be forgiven. (see Leviticus 1-7)
Why would God give His Son – because of love (the highest motive)
Why would the Lord Jesus Christ suffer so – because of love (the highest motive) . And so very much was accomplished for God and mankind by that death.
e.g. The much longed for fragrance of a holy human life presented to God both in the babe presented to God in the temple (Luke 3) and the unspoiled man offering Himself without spot to God on the cross.(Hebrews 9:14).
Then beyond this , the sacrifice as a substitute on behalf of guilty sinners. He, in virtue of His infinite worth, bearing the guilt of those who would draw near to God. In the Old Testament this demanded confession of the sin and the death of an animal as a sacrifice.
“So also Christ died only once as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people” - ( Hebrews 9:28 )
“Christ also suffered when He died for our sins once for all time. He never sinned , but He died for sinners that He might bring us to God” ( 1 Peter 3:16 )
Does the teaching of the Lord Jesus support this deeper meaning ? ‘YES.’
He used the following references (and more) to indicate the spiritual character of His sufferings:
“a ransom for many” Mark 10:45
“Moses and Elijah.... speaking of how He was about to fulfil God’s plan by dying in Jerusalem “ Luke 9:31
“If I be lifted up, I will draw every one to myself” John 12:32
“I lay down my life for the sheep” John 10:15
“This bread is my flesh, offered so the world may live” John 6:51
“Yes it was written long ago that the Messiah must suffer and die and rise again, that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in His name among all nations. “ Luke 24:46,47
I trust my readers will be inspired to search out these deep and meaningful truths.