Whether you think that the universe is 10,000 years old or
13 billion years old, there are three days which stand out as history’s apex.
Three days that changed everything. Three days that, depending on what you
believe regarding them, will determine where each person will spend their
eternity. Those three days are from Jesus’ crucifixion to His resurrection.
The Crucifixion and the immediate events leading up to it is
often referred to as The Passion. But why was it necessary and what really
The Crucifixion confirmed by non-Christian sources
First let’s take a look at whether or not the Crucifixion of
Jesus is only a Biblical event or is it confirmed by non-Biblical and
was a Jewish historian who was the history book, “Antiquities of the Jews” at
around 93 AD. In it he says:
there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, .... He drew over to him both many
of the Jews and many of the Gentiles... And when Pilate, at the suggestion of
the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross ....
who was one of the greatest Roman historians, wrote in “The Annals” at around
116 AM the persecution of Christians by Nero and also the execution of Christ.
fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated
for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom
the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of
Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus.
Babylonian Talmud says:
Another possible reference to the crucifixion is found in
the Babylonian Talmud. Realize that
the “hanging” that it refers to is similar to Luke 23:39, “One
of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying,
‘Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!’” Also see Galatians 3:13 for
another reference to crucifixion as hanging.
On the eve of the Passover Yeshu was hanged. For forty days before the
execution took place, a herald went forth and cried, ‘He is going forth to be
stoned because he has practised sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy. Anyone who
can say anything in his favour, let him come forward and plead on his behalf.’
But since nothing was brought forward in his favour he was hanged on the eve of
Lucian of Samosata was a Greek
satirist who lived in the second century. He was not a Christian and, in fact,
made fun of Christianity. But in one of his works, he wrote of the early
The Christians .
. . worship a man to this day--the distinguished personage who introduced their
novel rites, and was crucified on that account. . . . [It] was impressed on
them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment
that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified
sage, and live after his laws.
So we can see that the
crucifixion of Jesus is not recorded only by the Bible or by Christians.
Others, even those hostile to Christianity and would not want it to propagate,
spoke of Jesus’ crucifixion.
The Crucifixion in the OT
There are several passages in the OT that discuss Jesus’
Crucifixion. Two of the major sections are Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53.
The key verses are in boldface with their fulfillment in
Jesus on the cross.
God, my God, why have You forsaken me? [Matthew 27:46 and Mark
from my deliverance are the words of my groaning.
my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer;
by night, but I have no rest.
You are holy,
You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel.
You our fathers trusted;
trusted and You delivered them.
You they cried out and were delivered;
You they trusted and were not disappointed.
6 But I am a worm and
not a man,
reproach of men and despised by the people.
who see me sneer at me;
separate with the lip, they wag the head, saying, [Matthew 27:43]
8 “Commit yourself
to the Lord;
let Him deliver him;
Him rescue him, because He delights in him.” [Matthew 27:43]
9 Yet You are He who
brought me forth from the womb;
made me trust when upon my mother’s breasts.
You I was cast from birth;
have been my God from my mother’s womb.
11 Be not far from me,
for trouble is near;
there is none to help.
bulls have surrounded me;
bulls of Bashan have encircled me.
open wide their mouth at me,
a ravening and a roaring lion.
am poured out like water,
all my bones are out of joint; [John
heart is like wax;
is melted within me.
strength is dried up like a potsherd, [John 19:28]
my tongue cleaves to my jaws;
You lay me in the dust of death.
dogs have surrounded me;
band of evildoers has encompassed me; [John
pierced my hands and my feet.
can count all my bones.
look, they stare at me; [Matthew 27:36]
18 They divide my
garments among them,
for my clothing they cast lots. [Matthew 27:35]
Though every verse in this chapter discusses Jesus and His
Passion we’ll look at just a few of the key verses. These are in boldface with
their fulfillment in Jesus on the cross.
has believed our message?
to whom has the arm of the Lord
He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
like a root out of parched ground;
has no stately form or majesty
we should look upon Him,
appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
was despised and forsaken of men,
man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
like one from whom men hide their face
was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
4 Surely our griefs
He Himself bore,
our sorrows He carried;
we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
of God, and afflicted.
He was pierced through for our transgressions, [John
19:18, 1 Peter 2:24]
was crushed for our iniquities;
chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
by His scourging we are healed.
of us like sheep have gone astray,
of us has turned to his own way;
has caused the iniquity of us all
fall on Him. [2
7 He was oppressed
and He was afflicted,
He did not open His mouth; [Matthew
27:14, 1 Peter 2:22-23]
a lamb that is led to slaughter,
like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, [John
He did not open His mouth.
oppression and judgment He was taken away;
as for His generation, who considered
He was cut off out of the land of the living
the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?
grave was assigned with wicked men,
He was with a rich man in His death, [Luke
He had done no violence,
was there any deceit in His mouth.
10 But the Lord was pleased
crush Him, putting Him to grief;
He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
will see His offspring,
will prolong His days,
the good pleasure of the Lord
will prosper in His hand.
a result of the anguish of His soul,
will see it and be satisfied;
His knowledge the Righteous One,
Servant, will justify the many,
He will bear their iniquities.
I will allot Him a portion with the great,
He will divide the booty with the strong;
He poured out Himself to death,
was numbered with the transgressors; [Luke
He Himself bore the sin of many,
interceded for the transgressors.
I gave My back to those who strike Me,
And My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard;
I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting.
We see this fulfilled in Matthew 27:27-31.
the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the
whole Roman cohort around Him. 28 They
stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. 29 And
after twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed
in His right hand; and they knelt down before Him and mocked Him, saying,
“Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 They
spat on Him, and took the reed and began to beat Him on the head. 31 After
they had mocked Him, they took the scarlet robe off Him and put His own
garments back on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him.
also see from this passage in Isaiah 50 that Jesus, indeed, did have a beard.
“I will pour out on the house of David and
on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so
that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him,
as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the
bitter weeping over a firstborn.
This is fulfilled in John 19:16, “So he
then handed Him over to them to be crucified.”
He keeps all his bones,
Not one of them is broken.
We see this in John 19:31-33.
31 Then the Jews, because
it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies would not remain on the cross
on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), asked Pilate that their legs
might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32 So the soldiers came, and broke the legs of the
first man and of the other who was crucified with Him; 33 but
coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His
For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol;
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.
And then in Acts 13:28-35 we read:
28 And though they found no
ground for putting Him to death, they asked Pilate that He be executed.
29 When they had carried out all that was
written concerning Him, they took Him down from the cross and laid Him in a
tomb. 30 But God raised Him from the
dead; 31 and for many days He appeared
to those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, the very ones who are
now His witnesses to the people. 32 And
we preach to you the good news of the promise made to the fathers, 33 that God has fulfilled this promise to our
children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm,
My Son; today i have begotten You.’ 34 As for the fact that He raised Him up from
the dead, no longer to return to decay, He has spoken in this way: ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’ 35 Therefore He also says
in another Psalm, ‘You will not allow Your Holy
One to undergo decay.’
So what do we get out of all of that? It proves that Jesus’
Crucifixion was not orchestrated by man’s circumstances. It was not pushed
along by the whims of people while God ran alongside trying to keep up and
steer it the way that He wanted it to go sort of like what a father does when
his child is trying to ride a bike for the first time. Jesus was crucified at
precisely the time, place, and manner in every exact detail as God determined
an eternity before. It is the central event in all of history. It is why Jesus
was born into the world and it is what lead to His Resurrection. All of history
revolves around this one event. It was not left to chance. It was eternally
predetermined. But it was not predetermined as torture, but as the only means
to bring a holy God and sinful people into a relationship.
Why the Crucifixion?
The answer to this is the Gospel.
1 Corinthians 15:3-4 is the most concise presentation of the
Gospel in the Bible.
3 For I delivered to you as
of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins
according to the Scriptures, 4 and that
He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the
It tells us that the most important facts are the following:
died for our sins – this is central point around which everything else orbits.
was according to the Scriptures – proving once again how our first study on OT
prophecies about Jesus was so important
was buried – His death was indeed physical. He died as a real person. Not as a
ghost or spirit. Not as a theory or idea. Not as an illusion. If we were
standing there at that moment we could have reached out and touched His arm. We
could have felt the warm blood on His hand. We would have struggled with the
weight of His limp body if we tried to pick Him up. He didn’t swoon. He didn’t
fake it. He didn’t go into some nebulous in-between state. He actually, really,
physically died and was buried.
was raised on the third day – this proves that God the Father accepted Jesus’
sacrifice for our sins
Resurrection was also according to the Scriptures. If we ignore the OT
prophecies then we will miss God’s sovereignty and plans.
1 Corinthians 2:1-2 reaffirms this point of Jesus’
Crucifixion being of primary importance.
And when I came to you, brethren, I did not
come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony
of God. 2 For I determined to know
nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.
The person of Jesus Christ and His
Crucifixion go hand-in-hand. Without both, we are lost and without hope. No one
else could save us. And without the Crucifixion, God cannot save us. This is of
first importance. Without the cross what is our motivation to share the Gospel?
With the cross, our motivation should be consuming. Without the cross our
obedience is lackluster. With the cross, our obedience should be ferocious.
So why did Jesus have to go to the Cross? Couldn’t there be any other way?
After all, He is God, couldn’t He figure out something less painful?
To answer this, we have to get at the very heart and nature
of both God and man.
God is holy.
The only attribute of God that is proclaimed three times in
succession is His holiness. This is done in two places in the Bible.
Isaiah 6:3, “And one called out to another and said, ‘Holy,
Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.’”
And in Revelation 4:8, “And the four living creatures, each
one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and
night they do not cease to say, ‘HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is THE LORD GOD, THE
ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME.’”
So what does it mean to be holy?
To define holiness as a mere abstinence from sin is to be
only half right. It is not only a lack of sin in character, but includes a deep
hatred of it also. To be without sin is to be pure. To be without sin and to
also hate sin is to be holy.
Habakkuk 1:13a says, “Your eyes are too pure to approve
evil…” God cannot in any way approve of nor ignore evil. It must be dealt with.
So now we come to man’s nature. Romans 3:10-12 describes us
10 as it is
is none righteous, not even one;
11 There is none who
There is none who seeks for God;
12 All have turned
aside, together they have become useless;
There is none who does good,
There is not even one.”
And Romans 3:23 sums it up, “for all have
sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
We all sin.
Sin can be active, i.e. doing something
wrong: stealing, murder, jealousy, bitterness, anger.
But sin can also be passive, i.e. not doing
something which we should do: not reading our Bible, not praying, not helping
someone in need, not forgiving.
Can anyone say that they have never sinned
at least once in their lifetime?
Each and every sin is a crime against God because it is
disobeying Him and is violating His universal laws of righteousness. And every
crime requires punishment. Romans 6:23 states, “ For
the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ
Jesus our Lord.” My first job ever was as a dishwasher in a restaurant. It was
a horrible job what with the stinking dishes and hot, steaming water. But for
every hour that I worked I made a whopping $1.80. I had done something and for
that I earned something. In this case it was money. In the same way, sin is
doing something wrong and for every sin that I commit I earn something.
Unfortunately, that wage that I earn is death.
James 2:10 reads, “For whoever keeps the
whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.”
So even if I live for 100 years and for every one of those years I led a
perfectly holy and sinless life except for 30 seconds when I was twelve years
old when I lied, even then, at the end of my life I would go to Hell because
that one sin was enough. In all of history, second only to Jesus, I was the
most sinless person who ever walked the face of the Earth, but it wasn’t
enough. Why wasn’t it enough? Because we are not comparing my good to my bad
and seeing how the scales tip. Nor are we comparing me to everyone else who
lived. After all, I can always find people who are worse than me. Someone who
committed a crime may say, “I never murdered anyone. So I’m not as bad as all
of those murderers out there.” The person who murdered someone may say, “I only
murdered one person. I’m not as bad as all of those people who murdered many
people.” The person who killed many people may say, “I may have killed many
people, but I didn’t eat any of them.” And the person who killed many people
and ate them? Well, he’s kind of stuck at the bottom. But the reality is that
we are comparing my entire life to God’s holiness and if they do not perfectly
match then I am doomed.
You see, sin is like a bullet. If I am a
soldier and a bullet rips through my heart I am completely and utterly dead.
The enemy can run up to me and pump 70 more bullets into me but not one of
those 70 bullets will make the slightest difference. I will not be any deader.
Likewise, our very first sin kills us spiritually. All of our lifetime of
subsequent sins does not make us any more spiritually dead. Ephesian 2:1
confirms this, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins…” And just like
that soldier who cannot breathe life into himself and raise himself physically,
we, too, once dead spiritually cannot breathe life back into ourselves and
raise ourselves spiritually. That can only come from God as Ephesians 2:4-6,
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved
us, 5 even when we were dead in our
transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been
saved), 6 and raised us up with Him,
and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
It is only the power of God that can raise
something from a physical grave; it is only the crucifixion of Christ that can
raise someone from a spiritual grave.
But why death? Why so severe?
Let’s look again at an illustration that we looked at in a
Let us say that I take a rock from the
woods and shot it to pieces with a gun. Nothing will happen to me because a
rock is essentially worthless.
Then the next day, I shoot a dog to death.
I might have to spend a day in jail. That is because a dog is worth more than a
Then the next day, I shoot a man and he
dies. I will go to jail for a number of years. That is because a man is worth
more than a dog. Notice that as the value of the object that I am harming goes
up, so does my punishment. This is because punishment is based not only on the
cruelty of the act itself, but even more so, on the value of the object which I
Finally, if I commit a crime against God,
no matter what that crime is, my punishment will be infinite. That is because
God’s value is infinite. Each sin that I commit means that I owe God
everything; I owe Him my all. But because I do not have infinite value in
myself by giving my all would not be sufficient to pay off my punishment, my
debt. The only thing that I have that is infinite is my time. Therefore, I and
everyone else would need to spend an eternity in Hell to try and pay off my
debt of death.
Jesus is the only person who walked upon the Earth who was
both sinless and of infinite value. Because He was sinless He didn’t have to
pay for any of His own sins and because He was of infinite value He had
something other than His time that was infinite. Therefore, because He was of
infinite value He could pay for each one of our sins by giving Himself.
But why something as gruesome as crucifixion?
Probably several reasons.
It was relatively slow and tortuous. This enables us to see how horrible
the effects of sin are. Sin is ugly. Sin requires severe punishment. And since
we cannot personally see the true terribleness of sin unless we go to Hell and
then it is too late, we are somewhat able to see the wrath of God against sin
by seeing Jesus’ suffering on the cross and the time immediately preceding it.
So what does sin look like? What does it look like when you
remove its jewelry and fine clothes? What does it look like when its deceitful
charm has been ripped away and its beauty has been melted off like wax?
I’m not going to do a complete analysis of all of the
medical aspects of Jesus’ crucifixion, but for the sake of this point I’ll
mention a few things.
Crucifixion is considered by many to be the most painful
death ever devised. In fact, the word “excruciating” comes from a Latin word
that means “to torment, crucify.”
The Romans often offered a mixture of vinegar (gall) and
wine to somewhat numb the pain. It says in Matthew 27:34 that “they gave Him wine to drink mixed with gall; and after tasting it,
He was unwilling to drink.” Jesus didn’t want to be anesthetized; He wanted to
bear the full brunt of the wrath of the Father for our sins.
Nails that were generally 7 to 9 nines long
were hammered into the wrists and not the palms as many paintings depict. The
reason for this is because the surrounding bones would hold up the victim for
the entire duration. If the nails were driven into the palms then the flesh
could tear while bearing the weight of the hanging person and the hand or hands
would fall free. The person would then fall off of the cross. The nail is the
wrist would severe the median nerve which is the largest nerve in the hand.
This would cause severe burning pain and the hand would be paralyzed.
Then the knees would be bent at a 45 degree angle and the
feet were pushed downward until they lay flat against the wood of the cross
with one foot on top of the other. Then another 7 to 9 inch nail would be
driven through both feet.
While hanging in this position the victim would be forced to
hold himself up by pushing on his nail-driven feet and holding himself up by
his thighs. Since he could only hold this position for a few initial minutes he
would then be forced to drop down due to exhaustion. This would put all of his
weight on his arms which would cause his shoulders to dislocate. The result
would be that his arms would be 6 to 9 inches longer than usual.
To breathe, the person could inhale easily. But to exhale,
he would have to flex his elbows and pull up on the nails in his wrists while
at the same time pushing up on the nails in his feet. Both would be
excruciating. Simultaneously, his scourged back—i.e. the open and shredded
flesh—would scrape against the rough wood of the cross.
As time went on the victim would become more and more tired
and so breathing would be more difficult. His heart would beat faster and
faster to try and deliver more blood to the body. Eventually, his lungs would
fill with fluid. The continual blood loss and this inability to breath would
lead to severe dehydration. This is why Jesus said in John 19:28, “I am
Ultimately, the victim would die of suffocation. In order to
expedite his death, the Roman soldiers would oftentimes break the victim’s
legs. Then he couldn’t push himself up and he would die rather quickly. But
when they came to break Jesus’ legs He was already dead so they didn’t.
This is what sin really is. We see it as enticing
pornography, or rolling the dice for money. We see sin as juicy gossip, or
laughing at someone less attractive than ourselves. But the crucifixion is the
real face of sin. It is sin with its glittery mask ripped off. This is what our
sin did to the most kind and gentle person who ever walked upon the Earth. We
need to see this. We need to understand it.
When I am going through a trial my main focus, unfortunately
too often, is my suffering or my inconvenience. And if someone tells me that
they went through something similar then of course my situation is ten times
worse because, well, it is happening to me and that alone makes it worse.
Jesus is very different from me. Whereas my primary focus is
myself, Jesus’ focus was always others. In John 19 we see Jesus being crucified
on a cross. His body was torn from the scourging, His head blooded from the
thorns, and very soon He would die with the sins of world laid on Him. Yet when
His mother and the apostle John were standing before Him rather than complain
about the horrors He just experienced He, instead, ensured that they would be
there to support and encourage each other.
Everything that Jesus did was for others. His miracles were
never dramatic shows just to impress everyone as to how great He was. Rather,
they always benefited someone else whether it was feeding thousands, healing
the sick, or calming terrified sailors. He was born so that we might be saved,
He died so that we could be forgiven, and He rose from the dead that we might
live forever with Him. The heart of Jesus was always aimed at making other
lives more meaningful, more abundant.
To pay for our sins, Jesus had to shed blood.
Leviticus 17:11 says, “For the life of the
flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make
atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes
And Hebrews 9:22 states, “And according to
the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood,
and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”
Throughout the Bible we see the importance
of a blood sacrifice.
In Genesis 3 right after the first sin,
Adam and Eve wrongly covered themselves with fig leaves (verse 7). But when God
covered them over He used an animal skin which means that an animal had to be
sacrificed (verse 21). So the first time that God covered over sin He required
a blood sacrifice.
Genesis 4 records the first offering to the Lord. Cain
brought the fruit of the ground. But Abel brought a blood sacrifice. God accepted
Abel’s blood sacrifice but not Cain’s.
In Genesis 22 God asked Abraham to offer up a blood
sacrifice which was his son Isaac. But when God stopped this He required and
provided another blood sacrifice which was a ram.
And so it goes all of which foreshadowed and led up to the
ultimate blood sacrifice which was Jesus.
· Ephesians 2:13
But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by
the blood of Christ.
· Hebrews 10:19
[ A New and Living Way ] Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence
to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus,
· Hebrews 12:24
and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which
speaks better than the blood of Abel.
· Hebrews 13:12
Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood,
suffered outside the gate.
· Hebrews 13:20
[ Benediction ] Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the
great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even
Jesus our Lord,
· 1 Peter 1:2
according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of
the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and
peace be yours in the fullest measure.
· 1 John 1:7
but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship
with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
The cup of communion represents blood.
Let’s take a look at two passages and see how, even though
written thousands of years apart, fit together wondrously.
Genesis 3:17b – 18a, “Cursed is the ground because of you;
in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles
it shall grow for you…”
John 19:1 - 2a, “Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and
scourged Him. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on His head…”
In the beginning God created a perfect world but we sinned
and as a result the world was cursed. Pain and sorrow entered and death became
the rule. One result was that the ground became difficult to work what with
thorns entangling our feet and cutting our skin. Every time a thorn caught
someone’s flesh and blood trickled out it was a reminder of how he had sinned.
This sin caused a separation between God and us. We could not
defeat this curse on our own. So into this doomed world stepped the holy and
righteous Creator. He united us by becoming the curse and fulfilling its
requirement for punishment. To this end He was whipped and beaten and then had
a crown of thorns placed on His head and beaten into His brow as the thorns,
the very symbol of the world’s sin, cut into His flesh and blood flowed out. He
took upon Himself our curse so that we might have eternal life with Him.
Jesus couldn’t have been poisoned like Socrates. He couldn’t
have been hanged with a noose like Dietrich Bonhoeffer. No, He had to die a
violent death and there is no death more violent than crucifixion.
Jesus Christ, God who became man, lived a perfectly sinless
and holy life, had to die a violent, bloody death in order to bring those who
rebelled against Him back into fellowship with Him.
People get mad at God when He allows heinous sin to go
unchecked and seemingly unjudged. We want swift and terrible retribution or we
accuse God of not caring. “Why God did you let that little child be murdered
and her killer never be found? What kind of God are you?” But what about our
sin? When we sin, do we shake our fists at God and demand that He strike us
dead on the spot? Do we call for swift and terrible retribution when we sin?
No, we ask for mercy. If God does not strike the other sinner down then He
isn’t just or caring. But when He doesn’t strike us down then He is merciful
and gracious. The fact is that God wrath is delayed because He wants all to
come to the knowledge of His saving grace. His full and merciless wrath and
rage was saved for His Son when He hung on the cross.
Colossians 1:13 tells us, “For He
rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of
His beloved Son.”
An evacuation is when people are moved from a
dangerous place to one that is safer. The largest ancient evacuation was
in 480 BC when 100,000 people left Athens because of the approaching Persian
army. More recent evacuations involved 3.75 million people in British cities
starting in September 1939 due to World War II, 14 million Chinese in July 1998
because of flooding, and 2.5 million residents fleeing the Houston area from
Hurricane Rita. All of these efforts required a huge amount of planning and
resources. These people moved because they desired life over death.
However, there is one evacuation that has involved hundreds
of millions of people and has been ongoing throughout our entire human history.
Its planning was before the foundation of the world and it required the
greatest sacrifice from one person to bring others to safety.
Before we are born-again we are prisoners in a place of
darkness burdened with a yoke of sin. An eternal Hell awaits us. We could never
be in greater danger. But Jesus Christ died so that we could be evacuated from
this domain of misery to a place of supreme joy and abundance. The very instant
that we are saved we are moved from darkness to light, from judgment to
forgiveness, from oppression to true freedom, and from present and eternal
danger to safety. Never has there been an evacuation as great.
The Crucifixion takes those who are:
And makes us alive
And forgives us
Prisoners in chains
And sets us free
In the Domain of Darkness
And transfers us to the Kingdom of His beloved Son
And gives us a blessed hope
Children of Wrath
And makes us Children of Mercy
Vessels of Dishonor
And makes us Vessels of Honor
Separated from God
And adopts us as His sons and daughters
Strangers and aliens
And makes us citizens of Heaven
Destined to an eternity in Hell
And gives us an eternal future in Heaven
And list can go on and on.
Salvation is not just a ticket from Hell to Heaven and the
Cross is much more than a train that takes us from one place to another. The
Cross transforms a person in a way that we will never fully understand until we
arrive in Heaven.
Salvation is a gift
Ephesians 2:8 reads, “For by grace you have been saved
through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God…”
Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift
of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 5:15, “But the free gift is not like the
transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more
did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus
Christ, abound to the many.”
On December 6, 1829 George Wilson, a postal clerk, and one
other man, James Porter, robbed a federal train and killed a guard. Both men
were caught and tried. On May 1, 1830 they were found guilty and on May 27 they
received their sentences: death by hanging. James Porter was executed on July
2, 1830. But several of George Wilson’s friends pleaded for mercy from
President Andrew Jackson. President Jackson issued a formal pardon. The death
penalty was dropped. He would only have to serve 20 years for his crimes. But
George Wilson refused the pardon.
According to the official report, THE UNITED STATES VERSUS
GEORGE WILSON (Peters 7 Report Sections 150-163) the court tried to
"force" the pardon on him. The case went all of the way up to the
Supreme Court. Chief Justice John Marshall wrote the following:
"A pardon is an act of grace, proceeding from the power
entrusted with the execution of the laws, which exempts the individual, on whom
it is bestowed, from the punishment the law inflicts for a crime he has
"A pardon is a deed, to the validity of which delivery
is essential; and delivery is not completed without acceptance. It may then be
rejected by the person to whom it is tendered; and if it be rejected, we have
discovered no power in a court to force it on him.”
Or to sum up:
A pardon is a paper, the value of which depends upon its
acceptance by the parties implicated. It is hardly to be supposed that one under
the sentence of death would refuse to accept a pardon. But if it is refused, it
is no pardon. George Wilson; therefore, was to hang.
And so George Wilson walked up the thirteen steps of the
gallows, a black hood was placed over his head, a noose around his neck, and he
died by hanging.
This is the only instance in U.S. history where a
presidential pardon was refused.
George Wilson committed a crime. He did not deserve a
pardon. But he was offered one because of the mercy of the nation’s highest
ruler. However, he refused it and therefore he was executed.
Likewise, each one of us committed a crime against God. We
do not deserve a pardon. But God is offering us one because Jesus Christ,
God/man, perfectly holy and sinless, took our sins upon Himself and died a
violent and bloody death on a cross. We can accept or refuse that pardon.
Accept it and we are forgiven and our eternal home will be Heaven. Refuse it
and we will die in our sins and our eternal destiny will be torment in Hell.
The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ makes that much difference.
Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your
According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity
And cleanse me from my sin.
God’s compassion is great. My sins are
cleansed away. Let God be praised forever and forever.