A couple of weeks ago I attended my first Passover Seder, which was truly a wonderful experience. During our time of sharing the subject of Jesus words on the cross came up, you know “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me”. The questioner asked if this was Jesus expressing doubt in God.
One of the answers was that it was Jesus’ flesh speaking, plus the fact that it was a direct fulfilment of Psalm 22. While this is true, I really believe that there is more to it than that. Since I was not able to go into a lengthy explanation at the time, I felt the need to express my thoughts today.
I am afraid that Christians often try to simplify things; it makes them easier for us to understand, but by doing so sometimes we miss important details. It is true that the basic gospel message is so simple that even a child can understand it, but if you want to go deeper, God is more than willing to go as deep as you can take it.
Messiah’s sacrifice on the cross is the issue here. Was His death only physical, only symbolic, or is something else going on?
Read through Isaiah 53, and notice a few things there;
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
There is something very interesting going on here. Who is the “we” in this passage? It is the nation of Israel, Isaiah’s people. Why did they think that He was stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted? They thought He was dying for His own sins. They thought that God was against Him because He made Himself equal with God. (John 5:18)
Notice that the next verse begins with “but”. This little word connects, and contrasts, the preceding and indicates that He was not stricken for His own sins, but for ours.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
The next few verses describe the atonement, but verse 10 really puts it all together. Did Yeshua die voluntarily, or did His Father, His God, put Him to death? The answer is of course, yes! Both are equally true. Israel esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted, and He was, only not for His own sins, but for theirs!
10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
The little word “yet” is like “but”, and contrasts the foregoing with what is coming afterwards. As one of our leaders has said, YHWH is a reference to God the father. In the AV this is translated as LORD, and is what we see here.
Yeshua had been in constant fellowship with His father, since eternity past. Now that he is being punished for our sin, for sin itself, His fellowship with His father has been cut-off. It is not possible for the love relationship with His father to continue while God’s wrath was being poured out on Him. This is why it says that He tasted death for every man.
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. Hebrews 2:9
The death He tasted can not be physical death, since every human dies. This is a spiritual death. Not annihilation, but a separation from God the Father. This is why I have a problem with the “Passion” movie, by Mel Gibson. The focus of the movie was on the physical suffering of Christ, while what Jesus did on the cross, was profoundly spiritual. He was cut-off, temporarily, from His Father. This is why He said “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me”. He was actually forsaken of His father for the time He was on the cross.
No doubt He knew why, but it is always different carrying out a plan, than merely planning it out. The bible says that He was “slain from the foundation of the earth” but this does not mean that He was actually slain, but that His death was a sure thing, not an afterthought. At the time that He agreed to go to the cross, He had never been separated from His father in literally an eternity. This was a new experience for Him, thankfully only a one-time event.
So why wouldn’t He feel that He had been abandoned by God? It was God the Father, who put him to death. It was God the Father who bruised and striped Him. The Jews, and Romans, who accomplished the execution, were merely instruments in the hands of God.
Look more closely and you will see that God made Messiah’s SOUL an offering for sin. It was not merely His body. Jesus was in this enterprise body, soul, and spirit.
What happened on the cross? Was it only symbolic? I don’t think so. He actually satisfied justice on the cross. The blood of this one God-man has more weight than all the sin of all men, women and children, of all time!
If you go back to verse 10 again, you see that immediately after His sacrifice, it says “he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.” This is the resurrection, and it follows almost immediately after the crucifixion. “Seed” is a reference to His children, the Church. Nevertheless, for that short time All of God’s wrath against sin was poured out on Him.
This is why it says He became sin;
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. II Corinthians 5:21
In order for God to allow sinners into Heaven, His righteous wrath against sin had to be satisfied. Justice must not only be seen to be done, it must actually be done. Christ is the only person who could take the wrath of God and survive, and this is because He is God.
The word propitiation means “satisfaction, or appeasement”, and describes what Christ did on the cross. God the Father was satisfied that justice had been done. His anger against sin is appeased. God, in His love, took the punishment for sin upon Himself, and set us free. That punishment was not merely physical death, but something much deeper, a separation from God the Father. We don’t have to understand everything in this life, we only need to accept it by faith.
Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; Romans 3:25
And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. I John 2:2
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. I John 4:10
It is not only the blood that is the propitiation for our sins, but the whole person, Yeshua ha Maschiah. God the Father is satisfied that Christ’s sacrifice actually was sufficient to take away all sin. It was real, and not merely symbolic. God’s wrath against our sin is horrible! Thus what he suffered was enough to take away that horrible consequence of sin for all humanity.
Christ’s sacrifice, while sufficient for all humans of all time, is only effective for those who receive it by faith. God would not force Himself on anyone, thus He won’t save you unless you ask Him!
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Romans 10:13
The Lord’s name is Jesus, or Yeshua. He was born of a virgin, but has existed from all eternity. He died for your sins, and was bodily raised from the dead. He is sitting at the right hand of God the father, and is acting as the advocate for His people with God. Soon He will snatch the Church from off the face of this planet, judge them at the Bema seat judgment in Heaven, and then He will bring severe judgment against all unbelievers on the earth, resulting in billions of deaths.
After this He will return with His saints, both Old Testament and New, and shall set up a kingdom that will last for the rest of the history of earth, one thousand years. After the thousand years He will destroy this earth, and create a new earth, and everything will change. In the mean time humanity will go through the White Throne Judgment, and all unsaved sinners will be thrown into the lake of fire, along with Satan.
That’s the Jesus, or Yeshua, who saves. If you are calling on another Jesus, one you have made from your own mind, or a Jesus who still hangs on a cross, you are still lost!