Certified

Selwyn makes the good point that Jesus’ death was not only violent and official but that it was also certified by the Romans: (John 19:33) ‘But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.’

He askes the question: ‘Can you see the implication of our Lord having a certified death? It means that His resurrection was undeniable.’ It understandable why a number of people go to great lengths to deny Jesus’ death on the cross. For example, if they claim to have found His bones – it then negates the resurrection. We know that Jesus’ sacrifice fully met God’s requirements because of His resurrection; that is, a perfect sacrifice on the cross resulted in the full penalty being paid and all can be free from the bondage of sin. Jesus’ resurrection proves that He successfully completed the work set for Him to do. The one sure way, to do the work of the antichrist, is to deny both the death (on the cross) and resurrection of Jesus. Do you agree?

The conclusion of this study sums up well what Selwyn has been writing about over the last two months: ” … the place where God received the worst possible treatment from us is the place where we see the full extent of His love.

What, then, is our conclusion? This, the cross is the place where Jesus’ cries answer our cry. We cry, ‘What must I do to be saved?’ He cries, ‘Simply believe in Me. I have done all that is necessary. There’s nothing else to do. It is finished.”

Have you any final thoughts on this particular study?

The official deed of a nation

Selwyn continues to look at the requirement that Jesus’ death had to be violent (blood sacrifice), official and certified.

If one single individual had killed Jesus, many would have ‘dismissed it as an unfortunate incident, and not considered it to be a revelation of the real character of the human race.’

As Selwyn says: Caiaphas, the High Priest of Israel – God’s representative on earth, said: “You know nothing at all! You do not realise that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” (John 11:49-50). Later in John’s Gospel (18:14), we see this referred to again: “Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it would be good if one man died for the people.” I think the reason why John draws the reader’s attention to it more than once, was because it is important to be aware of the official view of Israel’s leaders. In addition, the people accepted this view, for we read in Matthew 27:25; “Let his blood be on us and on our children!”. In any way you would like to view Jesus’ death – you should reach the conclusion that his sacrifice reflected the general view of the nation – from the leader of the nation, down to the average person in the street.

How many times do we see governments making decisions which ignore the plight of a few for the well-being of the many? This popular, low-risk behaviour of ‘politicians’ was evident in Israel at the time of Jesus’ death, as it is in, most nations today! Do you agree?

The nature of Jesus’ death is as relevant today as it was 2000 years ago – this generation would kill Jesus in the same way (an official death) because we are driven by the same sinful desires, as they were … as they say – some things never change! What are your views?

Sin’s great exposure

Selwyn now looks at the question: ‘Was such a violent and ignominious death really necessary?’

He says: “Why violent? It was because only a violent death could have exposed sin in the way that it needed exposing. … You can discuss it (sin) academically and even describe some sins as being ‘pretty harmless’. But when you stand at the cross the full horror of sin is revealed. Sin is the most deadly thing known to God and humankind. … Sin’s aim is to slay (kill) both the body and the soul.”

I think it puts the matter into its proper perspective when you consider that this blood sacrifice of Jesus on the cross was for each one of us; that is, the sin in each of our lives deserves the punishment given to Jesus – that’s how bad sin is – even if we consider that we lead an average ‘good’ life and have only committed a few,  almost ‘harmless’ sins – the penality that each one of us should pay – is what Jesus paid for us, on the cross. Satan held the deeds to our eternal life – Jesus paid the ransom required; and, set us free. The ransom was the same price for each and everyone of us. It does not matter if you lived the life of a murderer or a priest – the same ransom was paid.

It’s important to be fully aware that the price Jesus paid, is personal for ‘you’ – it is the exact price required to set ‘you’ free. No one has eternal life with Jesus if the ransom was not paid for them personally, by Jesus! Do you agree?

A broken-hearted God

Selwyn consider the possibility that Jesus death on the cross was caused by heart failure and not the usual crucifixion death by suffocation.

I don’t think it matters which was the actual cause of death – it’s important just to know that He died. As John records in Chapter 19, verse 34 of his gospel: ” … one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water“. We know that the Romans were experts in killing people and no doubt the soldier aimed his spear at Jesus’ heart. It’s fairly clear that the spear pieced the pericardium and Jesus’ heart which resulted in a sudden flow of serum and blood. If anyone thinks that Jesus just fainted on the cross and was taken down and revived later – then consider the thrust of a spear by an experienced soldier and the sudden flow of serum and blood – obviously not a wound anyone would naturally recover from – do you agree?

Yet, notwithstanding the cause of His death; God must have been heart-broken that we had strayed so far from Him that this painful sacrifice was required to bring about the reconciliation of all men and women with God. It’s unbelievable in a way – what do you think?

“Safe in the Father’s arms”

We continue, with Selwyn, to consider the last words of Jesus uttered on the cross, just before His death: ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’  How wonderful it will be when it comes time for us to say these words and pass from the imperfection of this world into a perfect heaven with our amazing God, arms wide open to welcome us.

I thought this was a really good study. Selwyn’s introduction is great: “The point we are making as we meditate on our Lord’s final words on the cross is this: Jesus Christ could commit Himself into the hands of His Father because in life He had committed Himself to His Father. … Commitment is most easy in death amongst those for whom it has been most easy in life. … In every moment of His life Jesus committed Himself to His Father’s will and so, in the moment of His dying, the final commitment came easily to Him. … It reveals the heartfelt union of His will with the will of the One who permitted Him to be put to death.”

In one sense I’m anxious about the possible, physical pain of death but this is more than cancelled out by the assurance I have that Jesus will help me through this difficult process. In life, I try to discern what is my Father’s work and ask Jesus for His help to do this work. I know that Jesus has overcome death and through Him I will live.

The last words of Selwyn are worth thinking about – long after you have read them: “I can’t be sure about this, but it seems to me that our Lord sank contently into death as He did into sleep, in the sure knowledge that He was safe in His Father’s arms.” Do you agree?

‘No beter way’

Selwyn continues to look at the importance of knowing God’s Word – as recorded in the Bible. He reflects on the sad fact that today, the average person does not have a good understanding of what’s in the Bible.

What do you think of this?

I don’t have much to add to today’s study – but the prayer is very good: “Father, may I see that the entrance of Your Word gives light and the neglect of it brings darkness. Help me to take Your light as my light for then I shall walk through life and death with a sure and steady tread. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”

Making God’s words our own

Selwyn continues to look at the last words of Jesus that He cried out when on the cross: ‘Father into your hands I commit my spirit.’ (Luke 23:46). As he says, many people think of Psalm 31, verse 5: ‘Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O Lord, the God of truth.’ when they read the last words of Jesus.

I agree with Selwyn, regarding this statement: ‘His (Jesus) dying words were a testimony to the way He lived. Living and dying, His thoughts were constantly with His Father. … it means that the Word of God on which He meditated so frequently, and which had penetrated the whole of His thought processes, came to mind when He needed it most.’

It’s important to keep in mind that while aids like ‘Every Day with Jesus’ are useful – they can never take the place of Scripture. Reading and meditating of the Bible is the one sure way of ‘growing and nuturing’ your relationship with God. I firmly believe that the Holy Spirit guides us to appropriate sections of Scripture (for that point in time) to assist us in our daily living. Do you agree?

It is a difficult road, to be a follower of Jesus without the help of companions who are walking with us on the way – and, that’s why it is important to be a member of a Christian community/church. For me, being a member of a Bible Study group has helped a lot over the last fifteen years, as it is so easy to wander off track when you are walking by yourself.