(The following is an edited extract from the sermon preached by Michael Larsen on December 29, 2019.)
When somebody asks you "Why did Jesus die on the cross?", you should be able to explain. This morning I want to give you five reasons in five words why Jesus died on the cross for us.
Replacement means he took the punishment that we deserved. He was our substitute. The Bible says in Romans 3:25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished.
When you go out and break a human law, you have to pay a human penalty. When you break God’s laws, you pay God’s penalties. And God says, “The wages of sin is death.” That means I deserve to die. That means either I have to pay for it or somebody else has to pay it for me. Jesus Christ said, “I will do it."
How does Jesus forgive you? Instantly, completely, and freely.
That means He bought my freedom. 1 Timothy 2:6 says “He gave His life as a ransom,” to purchase freedom for everyone.
You may be thinking, “I’m not a slave. So what do I need redemption from?” The Bible says in 2 Peter 2:19 “You are a slave to whatever controls you.”
1 Corinthians 7:23 says You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. The Bible says we can become slaves of people. We can live for the approval of others. But Jesus came to set us free from the slave of our desires and the slavery of people.
Galatians 5:1 says It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. What is this freedom for? This freedom is to be used for good. 1 Peter 2:16 says Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. So here’s the question. What is it that controls you? Are you controlled by you past? Are you controlled by your habits? Living for the approval of others? Are you controlled by your schedule?
That means He restored my relationship to God. Reconciliation is a key word. It means when you bring two parties together who have been distanced by conflict.
The Bible says this in Ephesians 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. In other words He took the initiative.
Jesus Christ became the mediator. The Bible tells us God is on one side and all the people are on the other side and Christ Jesus, Himself man, is between them to bring them together. He was the mediator.
When Jesus Christ was on the cross, one of the things He did was to take your place. Another thing He did was buy your freedom. And another thing He did was restore the relationship to God by saying I will be the mediator. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
It means He gave me a new identity. Titus 3:5 5he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"
That means He defeated death. The Bible says this in 1 John 3:8 The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work. What is the devil’s work? Messing up your heart by filling it with worry, guilt, resentment, anger, fear, confusion. Helping you feel worthless and helpless and hopeless and aimless.
The Bible says Hebrews 2:14-15 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. I’m not afraid of dying. Because when God is near you lose your fear.
Here’s the point – when you understand these five things Jesus did instead of feeling worthless and hopeless and helpless and powerless and aimless in life the cross says this about you. You are valuable. You are lovable. You are forgivable. You are capable. And you are usable for God’s purpose in your life.