Water for the Thirsty
Weekly Devotional

Water for the Thirsty

Jesus died for God

Weekly Devotional

‘As the deer pants for streams of water so my soul pants for you, O God’. (Psalm 42:1)
‘…Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink”…’ (John 7:37)

21st Marcy 2010

When we think about the cross it is almost exclusively in terms of our own lives. We say things like “Jesus died for me, He died for my salvation, to rescue me from judgment and hell”. Now, of course, that’s absolutely true, and certainly we should celebrate what the cross means to us. But that is only secondary to the fact that Jesus died for God. In order for the cross to mean anything to us, it must mean everything to God. As we understand this, we understand the cross. Here are some points to reflect on:

The death of Jesus was a sacrifice to God.

The Old Testament reminds us of a divinely ordered and carefully detailed system of sacrifice and offerings to God. God alone was to be the recipient of every single sacrifice, every offering. They were all for Him. They were to be to Him as a sweet smelling savour, as incense to please Him. The person offering a sacrifice was guilty of sin before a holy God and was, therefore, subject to God’s wrath. God had been offended and dishonoured, as He is by every sin committed by every person who has ever lived. In the Old Testament God provided a way in which the sinner could come before Him and temporarily have his sin dealt with. An animal would be brought to the priest and hands would be laid on the animal as a symbol of the transfer of sin and guilt to that animal (Leviticus 1:1-4). The animal was then killed because God requires death for sin. The wages of sin is death. A soul that sins, dies. The blood of the animal was poured out all over the altar, and the person would be temporarily cleared by God. But that animal could offer no permanent sacrifice, so the practice had to be repeated again and again and again. What the people were learning was that God’s wrath is deterred by a sacrifice offered to Him. Now Jesus was a sacrifice to God for sin. Every other sacrifice merely pointed toward His full and final sacrifice. Jesus was the only offering to God that could really take away sin, and He was also the priest. He was the true High Priest, and His offering of Himself, a sinless, perfect life, was the full and final and acceptable blood sacrifice to God. Jesus died as a sacrifice to God, as a sweet-smelling savour, finally, once for all. As Paul says, in Ephesians 5:2 …Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. The atonement never needs to be repeated. God was pleased.

The death of Jesus was a substitution offered to God.

The New Testament is rich with the language of substitution. Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. He didn’t die for His own sins; He had none. He was offered as a substitute for us. One died for all (2 Corinthians 5:14). God made Him sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). This concept echoes the language of Isaiah 53, Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But 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. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (V.4-6)

The Lord caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. That’s substitution. He takes our place. We need to understand that God is absolutely holy, and that sin is a violation of His holiness. Any violation of His law must be dealt with. All sin must be punished. With the cross, God acts as a just lawgiver, giving a proper punishment for sin. God determined that the penalty for sin, the just and right penalty for sin, is death. That’s what is required. The truth is justice demands a penalty for wrongdoing that is commensurate with the seriousness of the crime committed. Since all sin is an affront to the Almighty Himself and a violation of His infinite holiness, every sin is very serious, requiring an equally serious penalty. That’s why the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Jesus died on the cross because a just penalty was required. God, the Lawgiver, executed that penalty on His Son. A death was owed to divine justice. Jesus took the full guilt of all our sins and the full fury of God’s wrath as our penal substitute. All the horrors of hell that all the redeemed should have collectively suffered were endured instead by Jesus as the fury of God spent itself in three hours. It is a staggering thought that He bore so much for us, and that He did it willingly.

The death of Jesus was a satisfaction to God.

When the Bible says in 1 John 2:2, 1 John 4:10 and Romans 3:25 that Jesus was the ‘atoning sacrifice’ [NIV margin: ‘the one who would turn aside his wrath, taking away’] for our sins, it basically means satisfaction. The offering of Jesus was enough and God was satisfied. God could never be satisfied with us until He was satisfied with His Son. He could never be satisfied with taking us into His family until He was satisfied with His Son being alienated. He couldn’t reconcile us until He had alienated Him. But Christ placated the wrath of God fully, and He was satisfied. How do we know that God was satisfied? Because He raised Christ from the dead and because He took Him into glory and seated Him at His right hand. As the writer of Hebrews explains, The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. (Hebrews 1:3). This is not a loving son trying to appease an angry father. This is a loving God offering Himself as a sacrifice. When we talk about being saved it’s important to know what we are being saved from. You may say, “Aren’t we saved from sin? Aren’t we saved from hell?” In a sense, we are, of course. But even more important, we are being saved from God, by God, through God. A loving, gracious, merciful, compassionate God provided Himself as the substitute to bear the full fury of God’s judgment so that we can be saved from Him. Jesus died as God, sent from God to satisfy God that sin had been paid for. The good news is that God’s wrath has been satisfied by the death of Christ and that all who believe are now welcome to come into His family. What Christ did on the cross was not designed to remove our hostility toward God, but to remove God’s hostility toward us. The only reason we can even come to Him by faith is because, in a decisive act on the cross, God’s hostility was ended toward all who believe. Let’s be thankful that because of Jesus dying for God, God is for us not against us.

Pastor Barry

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