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40 Things the Death of Jesus Accomplished: Easter Day (40)

lent

Why did Jesus die?

40. So that we might go straight to heaven

39One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”

 40But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

 42Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

 43Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23;

21For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labour for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.’ Philippians 1:21-23

Jesus’ death achieves everything necessary for our salvation. So the criminal on the cross is assured that having trusted in Christ, he will that very same day be with Christ in paradise. There is no need for any religious ceremony to be performed, no need to make up for his wicked life with good works, and no need to pay for his sins in purgatory. Christ’s death does everything. He trusts in Christ, and so when his agony on the cross ended, his next conscious experience was of joining his Saviour and King in heaven!

That is the Christian hope. That is the assurance that Paul has in Philippians. The choice facing him as he risks death regularly to preach the gospel is serving Christ a while longer, or going to be with Christ now. Such assurance comes only from knowing that our salvation depends not on our efforts, ability, worth or track record, but on the finished work of our Saviour Jesus Christ who died for us on the cross and rose again to new life. Praise God that if you trust in Jesus today, you can say with Paul, ‘for to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.’

Let us love, and sing, and wonder,

Let us praise the Saviour’s name!
He has hushed the Law’s loud thunder,
He has quenched mount Sinai’s flame:
He has washed us with his blood,
He has brought us nigh to God.

Let us love the Lord who bought us,
Pitied us when enemies;
Called us by his grace, and taught us,
Gave us ears, and gave us eyes:
He has washed us with his blood,
He presents our souls to God.

Let us sing though fierce temptations
Threaten hard to bear us down
For the Lord, our strong salvation,
Holds in view the conquerors crown:
He who washed us with his blood,
Soon will bring us home to GOD.

Let us wonder, grace and justice,
Join and point to mercy’s store;
When through grace in CHRIST our trust is,
Justice smiles; and asks no more:
He who washed us with his blood,
Has secured our way to God.

Let us praise, and join the chorus
Of the saints, enthroned on high;
Here they trusted him before us,
Now their praises fill the sky:
“Thou hast washed us with thy blood,
Thou art worthy, Lamb of GOD!”

Hark! the name of JESUS, sounded
Loud, from golden harps above!
LORD, we blush, and are confounded,
Faint our praises, cold our love!
Wash our souls and songs with blood,
For by thee we come to GOD.

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40 Things the Death of Jesus Accomplished: Day 39

lent

 

Why did Jesus die?

39. To bring us safely through judgement day

‘But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.’ Hebrews 9:26-28.  See also Romans 5:9-10

As Christians, we will still face Judgement Day. To be honest, the thought is rather terrifying. Imagine when it’s your turn at the front of the crowd comprising every single member of the billions of humans who ever walked the earth. Around you are mighty angels – almost too wonderful too look at, and in front of you is a huge throne, and seated on the throne is God himself in all his blazing glory. He is so awesome and pure and powerful that you cannot help but shudder. It’s not just that you are a creature and he is a creator, it is that that you are sinful. How can you possibly pass this test? His eyes can see right through you, his mind knows every detail of every moment of your life…?

But then you see Jesus standing there as your representative. You see the scars in his hands and feet and side. You see the wounds that should be yours, and you know for certain that your sins have been paid for. There is nothing left to pay, no sin left unpunished. You are free, righteous, loved and accepted. The gates of heaven are flung wide open, and the presence of God has no fear any longer.

Rejoice, believer, in the LORD

Who makes your cause his own;
The hope that’s built upon his word,
Can ne’er be overthrown.

Though many foes beset your road,
And feeble is your arm;
Your life is hid with CHRIST in GOD [Col 3:3]
Beyond the reach of harm.

Weak as you are, you shall not faint,
Or fainting shall not die;
JESUS, the strength of every saint, [Isa 40:29]
Will aid you from on high.

Though sometimes unperceived by sense,
Faith sees him always near;
A Guide, a Glory, a Defence,
Then what have you to fear?

As surely as he overcame,
And triumphed once for you;
So surely you, that love his name,
Shall triumph in him too!

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40 Things the Death of Jesus Accomplished: Day 38

lent

 

Why did Jesus die?

38. To enable us to live by faith

20I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.’

Galatians 2:20

In our natural state we are incapable of living by faith – a life marked by trust in and obedience to God. But when we turn to Christ, our old life is crucified with him on the cross. Our sins are punished in him, our old life is put to death. And so at the cross Christ opens the way for us to start a new life, a life lived by faith in the Son of God. He is now our life. We trust him rather than ourselves for our righteousness, and we obey him rather than our sinful desires.

Galatians, like the rest of the bible, makes it clear that a life of faith is not slavery to God’s rules, it is rather freedom from sin’s destructive, addictive power; freedom to live as we were designed, and to enjoy God’s blessing.

It is a life of faith too in the sense that we cannot see and touch and feel the death of our sinful selves. We still very much struggle and battle each day. But as we look to Christ on the cross, faith assures us that our sins have been dealt with, and that when we die we will be given new bodies like his resurrection body, free of sin and temptation and decay and death. Roll on that day!

From Egypt [ie slavery to sin] lately freed

By the Redeemer’s grace;
A rough and thorny path we tread,
In hopes to see his face.

The flesh dislikes the way,
But faith approves it well;
This only leads to endless day,
All others lead to hell.

The promised land of peace
Faith keeps in constant view;
How different from the wilderness
We now are passing through!

Here often from our eyes
Clouds hide the light divine;
There we shall have unclouded skies,
Our Sun will always shine.

Here griefs, and cares, and pains,
And fears, distress us sore;
But there eternal pleasure reigns,
And we shall weep no more.

LORD pardon our complaints,
We follow at thy call;
The joy, prepared for suffering saints,
Will make amends for all.

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40 Things the Death of Jesus Accomplished: Day 37

lent

Why did Jesus die?

37. To make us righteousness

9For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.’ Romans 5:19

Jesus was willing to go the cross to obey God. It takes but the slightest temptation or difficultly for us disobey or turn away from God. Obeying God will never be as costly for us as it was for Jesus, and yet our saviour did it perfectly. He did it so that he might be the second Adam. What that means is this: Adam, the first man failed to obey God. His unrighteousness infected the whole human race, so that we are born addicted to sin and guilty by nature. We then live enjoying that nature, adding real sins to our sinful nature.

Jesus was the second Adam, a new start for a new people. He obeyed God perfectly. But Jesus is greater than Adam for another reason: Adam’s unrighteousness was passed to all who were born after him, but Jesus’ righteousness breaks that chain, it is attributed to all who believe in him – even Adam’s children.

If we struggle to get our heads around that, we can just enjoy this wonderful thought: Jesus never sinned. Sometimes we think it must have been easier for him, as he wasn’t born sinful. But the Bible says he was tempted exactly as we are (Hebrews 4:15) and so can sympathise with our weakness. You know how it is with temptation – the longer you hold out, the harder it gets. Jesus never, ever gave in. Praise God for him. And praise God that being perfect doesn’t mean Jesus is harsh and judgemental, instead he sympathises as our high priest, and gives us righteousness as our saviour.

O how I love thy holy word,

Thy gracious covenant, O Lord!
It guides me in the peaceful way;
I think upon it all the day.

What are the mines of shining wealth,
The strength of youth, the bloom of health!
What are all joys compared with those
Thine everlasting word bestows!

Long unafflicted, undismay’d,
In pleasure’s path secure I stray’d;
Thou madest me feel thy chastening rod,
And straight I turn’d unto my God.

What though it pierced my fainting heart,
I bless thine hand that caused the smart;
It taught my tears awhile to flow,
But saved me from eternal woe.

Oh! hadst thou left me unchastised,
Thy precept I had still despised;
And still the snare in secret laid,
Had my unwary feet betray’d.

I love thee, therefore, O my God,
And breathe towards thy dear abode;
Where, in thy presence fully blest,
Thy chosen saints for ever rest.

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40 Things the Death of Jesus Accomplished: Day 36

lent

 

Why did Jesus die?

36. To learn perfect obedience

8Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.’

10In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering.’

Hebrews 5:8-9, 2:10

It is amazing to read that there was something the Lord Jesus had to learn! It is not saying that God the Son was not perfect. Rather, as a real human being, he learned and grew like others. In particular, he could not be the perfect substitute, the perfect sacrifice until he had lived a life of obedience – so that he might be the righteous one who gives that righteousness to us.

It is interesting to note that obedience was learned through suffering. It is as we honour God even when it hurts, even when we get no benefit, even when we are tempted to do otherwise, that we really grow in obedience. For as we do so we teach ourselves that God is first and best in everything. Praise God that our Saviour never faltered in this. Through every day of every week of every month of every one of 33 years of real life, he never gave up or gave in. And he did it all so that he might be suitable and ready to go to the cross.

My God, till I received thy stroke,

How like a beast was I!
So unaccustomed to the yoke,
So backward to comply.

With grief my just reproach I bear,
Shame fills me at the thought;
How frequent my rebellions were!
What wickedness I wrought!

Thy merciful restraint I scorned,
And left the pleasant road;
Yet turn me, and I shall be turned,
Thou art the Lord my God.

“Is Ephraim banished from my thoughts,
Or vile in my esteem?
No,” saith the Lord, “with all his faults,
I still remember him.

“Is he a dear and pleasant child?
Yes, dear and pleasant still;
Though sin his foolish heart beguiled,
And he withstood my will.

“My sharp rebuke has laid him low,
He seeks my face again;
My pity kindles at his woe,
He shall not seek in vain.”

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40 Things the Death of Jesus Accomplished: Day 35

lent

Why did Jesus die?

35. To win perfect health and holiness for us

4Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.

5But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.’ Isaiah 53:4-5

16When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. 17This was to fulfil what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:

 “He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.”’ Matthew 8:16-17

We will not enjoy freedom from our sinful desires or freedom from the ill health and corruption of this fallen world until heaven. But at the cross Jesus won both for us. In Matthew 8 Jesus’ healing ministry is seen as a fulfilment of Isaiah 53. There is a difference. Sins are paid for and forgiveness is for now. But Jesus’ death deals with the consequences of sin as well as the guilt of sin. Heaven will be free of illness and death as well as selfishness and hatred.

Our forgiveness and righteous status is a down-payment, a guarantee of what is to come. What awaits is the freedom of holiness – finally serving God and loving other people without the ruinous slavery of sin corrupting everything; and the joy of life without the physical effects of the fall. No sickness, no death, no decay. Heaven will be wonderful!

Why should I fear the darkest hour,

Or tremble at the tempter’s power?
Jesus vouchsafes to be my tower.

Though hot the fight; why quit the field?
Why must I either flee or yield,
Since JESUS is my mighty shield?

When creature comforts fade and die,
Worldlings may weep; but why should I?
Jesus still lives, and still is nigh.

Though all the flocks and herds were dead,
My soul a famine need not dread,
For Jesus is my living bread.

I know not what may soon betide,
Or how my wants shall be supplied;
But Jesus knows, and will provide.

Though sin would fill me with distress,
The throne of grace I dare address;
For JESUS is my righteousness.

Though faint my prayers, and cold my love,
My steadfast hope shall not remove,
While Jesus intercedes above.

Against me earth and hell combine,
But on my side is power divine;
Jesus is all, and he is mine.

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