Seventh, the Lord Jesus Christ is wonderful in His death for others. First of all, it was a voluntary death. He didn’t need to die. At His arrest, when one of the twelve disciples drew a sword and cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest, Jesus rebuked the disciple and said that if He wished, He could call forth legions of angels. God would send them to His aid to defend Him.
We read in the Bible that death is the penalty for sin. Jesus was sinless, and therefore didn’t need to die. Yet He did die, nevertheless, for the sins of others. He did it voluntarily and He spoke about it on numerous occasions. His disciples were unable at first to understand what he was talking about because that isn’t the way they understood that a person is a success or makes an impact. “What kind of impact can a dead person have?” they thought. They said, “Oh no, if you want to do something good here, you have to live and you have to be strong and powerful.” They thought like the politicians of our day. They said, “What you have to do is have enough might to be able to drive out these Romans. That’s what the Messiah is supposed to do, and we want to be right in there by your side while you are doing it.”
But Jesus countered this incorrect thinking. He said, “No, I didn’t come to do that. The Son of Man has come to give His life as a ransom for many.” He explained to them how it was necessary that He go up to Jerusalem, that He be arrested and suffer at the hands of sinners, and finally be delivered over to die on the cross.
His was a voluntary death, and it was an atonement also. That is, it was a death that had purpose. It wasn’t what we would call a meaningless death or even what we would call an edifying death, the kind of death that a martyr might have. If someone gives up his life for a great cause, people might say, “It’s important to have that kind of courage and have such a vision in life to be able to die like that.” But Jesus’ death wasn’t that kind of a death. It was a death for others; He died in their place. He who had no sin died in the place of sinners so that sinners need not die eternally. That of course was the horror of His death. Contrary to how most people would think about a crucifixion, in Jesus’ case the worst part was not the physical death, but the weight of sin that was upon Him. He cried out in His anguish, not because of His physical pain, but because of the spiritual suffering, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” He did that voluntarily in an atoning sense for us, those who trust in Him!
Oh, there have been amazing deaths in the history of the world. There have been people who have died for other people in a human sense to spare them. But there is no death like the death of Jesus Christ! He was wonderful in His death.
Eighth, Jesus was wonderful in His resurrection. He not only prophesied of His death, but He prophesied of His resurrection. He said that he was going up to Jerusalem to die, because the reason He had come was to give His life as a ransom for many. But He also said that after His death, on the third day, He was going to rise again from the dead.
At the time, the disciples didn’t understand any of this about His death and resurrection. But after He was raised, they understood, and by the work of the Holy Spirit they grew in their understanding and served as faithful witnesses to these truths. Jesus was crucified, dead, buried, all according to the Scriptures as Paul says in 1 Corinthians. But on the third day, the stone was rolled back, the angel descended, and it was evident that Jesus Christ was not there. He was risen from the dead, and He appeared in His resurrection body to the disciples, to the women, to Peter, last of all to Paul, and on one occasion to 500 brethren at once. And the conviction that they had was so great that when Paul came to write to the Corinthians later and to rehearse the evidences for the resurrection, he didn’t even talk about the kind of historical evidences that we do today. He didn’t talk about the empty tomb and the undisturbed grave clothes and the transformation of the character of the disciples and all of those things. He simply said that Jesus appeared and He was seen by all of them, even up to 500 brethren at one time. And if they did not believe what Paul was telling them, they could go ask those who actually saw the resurrected Lord.