Jesus' Incarnation

This is the contents of the "Jesus' Incarnation" section of the "Jesus Himself Alone" series



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 happened?

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 non-Christian sources.

Josephus was a Jewish historian who was the history book, “Antiquities of the Jews” at around 93 AD. In it he says:

Now 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 ....

Tacitus, 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.

Nero 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.

The 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 the Passover!

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 Christians:

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.

Psalm 22:1-18

The key verses are in boldface with their fulfillment in Jesus on the cross.

My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?                                  [Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34]
Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning.
O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer;
And by night, but I have no rest.
Yet You are holy,
O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel.
In You our fathers trusted;
They trusted and You delivered them.
To You they cried out and were delivered;
In You they trusted and were not disappointed.

But I am a worm and not a man,
A reproach of men and despised by the people.
All who see me sneer at me;
They separate with the lip, they wag the head, saying,                  [Matthew 27:43]
“Commit yourself to the Lord; let Him deliver him;
Let Him rescue him, because He delights in him.”                              [Matthew 27:43]

Yet You are He who brought me forth from the womb;
You made me trust when upon my mother’s breasts.
10 Upon You I was cast from birth;
You have been my God from my mother’s womb.

11 Be not far from me, for trouble is near;
For there is none to help.
12 Many bulls have surrounded me;
Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled me.
13 They open wide their mouth at me,
As a ravening and a roaring lion.
14 I am poured out like water,
And all my bones are out of joint;                                                             [John 19:34]
My heart is like wax;
It is melted within me.
15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd,                                             [John 19:28]
And my tongue cleaves to my jaws;
And You lay me in the dust of death.
16 For dogs have surrounded me;
A band of evildoers has encompassed me;                                          [John 20:25, 27]
They pierced my hands and my feet.
17 I can count all my bones.
They look, they stare at me;                                                                       [Matthew 27:36]
18 They divide my garments among them,
And for my clothing they cast lots.                                                           [Matthew 27:35]

Isaiah 53

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.

Who has believed our message?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;
He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
But He was pierced through for our transgressions,                       [John 19:18, 1 Peter 2:24]
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him.                                                                                                   [2 Corinthians 5:21]

He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;                                                                 [Matthew 27:14, 1 Peter 2:22-23]
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,                             [John 1:29, 36]
So He did not open His mouth.
By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the living
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?
His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,                                                [Luke 23:50-53]
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

10 But the Lord was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.
11 As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;                                        [Luke 23:33]
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.

Isaiah 50:6

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.

27 Then 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.

We also see from this passage in Isaiah 50 that Jesus, indeed, did have a beard.

Zechariah 12:10

“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.”

Psalm 34:20

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 legs.

Psalm 16:10

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, ‘You are 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.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

It tells us that the most important facts are the following:

1)      Christ died for our sins – this is central point around which everything else orbits.

2)      This was according to the Scriptures – proving once again how our first study on OT prophecies about Jesus was so important

3)      Jesus 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.

4)      He was raised on the third day – this proves that God the Father accepted Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins

5)      Jesus’ 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. 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 quite nicely.

10 as it is written,

There is none righteous, not even one;
11 There is none who understands,
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, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 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 previous study.

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 rock.

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 am harming.

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.

1)      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 thirsty.”

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.

2)      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 atonement.”

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 committed...”

"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.

Psalm 51:1-2

Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness;
According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.
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.