Imagine no Crucifixion


     Some are repelled at the biblical teaching of Jesus' crucifixion. Modernism has sought to play down Jesus' death as presented in God's word. The idea of blood does not appeal to the faint of heart. Dying on the cross was not viewed as an option by Jesus (I am not saying Jesus had no choice). Hear Jesus: "From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day" (Matt. 16: 21). The necessity of Jesus' vicarious death is made plainer in Jesus' words, "Thus it is written, and thus it behooved (was necessary, dm) Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day" (Lk. 24: 46). Let us try to imagine what it would be like if Jesus had not died (such should enhance our appreciation of Jesus' death).

     The world would have been without a perfect sacrifice. The Jew under the Law of Moses attempted to satisfy his need for forgiveness of sin by animal sacrifices (Heb. 10: 1-4). However, there was a problem: "For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins" (vs. 4). Under the Law of Moses there was "a remembrance again made of sins every year" (vs. 3). Hence, there was the need of a better sacrifice, the Son of God himself (Heb. 10: 5-7). Jesus' sacrifice was so perfect that only one offering was required (Heb. 9: 28). Jesus' blood is so efficacious that permanent remission of sin can be experienced when we comply with the terms of spiritually contacting Jesus' blood (Matt. 26: 28, see Acts 2: 38, 22: 16 and I Jn. 1: 7 ff.).

     Justification could only be experienced by perfect law keeping. That is right, if Jesus had not come and died, the only way you and I could be justified or pronounced right would be by perfectly keeping the Law of Moses (the Law of Moses would have continued in effect if Jesus had not died, Col. 2: 14, 2 Cor. 3). We are told, "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" (Jn. 1: 17). The only way the Jew could be justified was by sinlessness. However, man could not be justified by the law because all men sinned (Gal. 3: 10, 11, Rom. 3: 23). We are under law today, the perfect law of liberty (Jas. 1: 25). When the Christian attempts to live in harmony with Christ's law and still falls short, the provision of grace comes into play (Eph. 2: 8-10). If Christ had not died on the cross, we would be without justification (Gal. 3: 10-29).

     The world would be without the perfect example of love if Jesus had not gone to the cross. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (Jn. 3: 16). Commentator Hendriksen comments thus on "gave:" "The verb 'he gave' must be taken in the sense of he gave unto death as an offering for sin" (New Testament Commentary, Vol. 4, pg. 141). Every time John 3: 16 is quoted, the idea is that of Jesus going to the cross as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. What unselfish love! Jesus taught, "This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (Jn. 15: 12, 13).

     There would be no access to heaven if Jesus had not undergone the suffering and shame of Calvary. "The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: which was a figure for the time then present…" (Heb. 9: 8, 9). In connection with Jesus' death, we read "Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent" (Matt. 27: 50, 51). Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (Jn. 14: 6).

     Had Jesus not come and died, we would all be slaves in bondage. Paul wrote thus of Jesus: "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace" (Eph. 1: 7). "Redemption" in connection with Christ is a recurring word and thought. Consider W. E. Vine's comments on the Greek word apolutrosis that is translated redemption in Ephesians 1: 7.

     "Noun, apolutrosis a strengthened form of No. 1, lit., 'a releasing, for (i.e., on payment of) a ransom.' It is used of (a) 'deliverance' from physical torture, Heb. 11:35, see DELIVER, B, No. 1; (b) the deliverance of the people of God at the coming of Christ with His glorified saints, 'in a cloud with power and great glory,' Luke 21:28, a 'redemption' to be accomplished at the 'outshining of His Parousia,' 2 Thess. 2:8, i.e., at His second advent; (c) forgiveness and justification, 'redemption' as the result of expiation, deliverance from the guilt of sins, Rom. 3:24, 'through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus;' Eph. 1:7, defined as 'the forgiveness of our trespasses,' RV; so Col. 1:14, 'the forgiveness of our sins,' indicating both the liberation from the guilt and doom of sin and the introduction into a life of liberty…" (Expository Dictionary of the New Testament).

     Therefore, if Jesus had not been put to death, we would have remained slaves, but Jesus paid the redemptive price with his own blood!

     No prayer in Jesus' name. Jesus told his apostles, "And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked noting in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full" (Jn. 16: 23, 24). To ask in Jesus' name is to ask by his authority and power. Notice that asking in his name would begin "in that day." The reference appears to be to Jesus' death and resurrection (vs. 26, 32, 33). Jesus was declared to be "the Son of God with power" by "the resurrection from the dead" (Rom. 1: 4). Prayer is a blessed privilege belonging to the Christian, but without Jesus' death there would be no prayer in Jesus' name.

    The church belonging to Jesus would be non-existent if Jesus had not died. Jesus gave his precious blood to establish his church (Acts 20: 28). The phrase "in Christ" often has reference to being in Jesus' church, his spiritual body (Gal. 3: 26, 27, I Cor. 12: 13, cp. Eph. 1: 22, 23). It is in Christ that all spiritual blessings and salvation are enjoyed (Eph. 1: 3; 2 Tim. 2: 10). The church is the pillar and ground of the truth (I Tim. 3: 15).

     Without Jesus' death, there would be no example of perfect obedience. Jesus came to do his Father's will and doing his Father's will constituted Jesus' reason for life (Jn. 6: 38, 4: 34). Jesus was "obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Phili. 2: 5). As a result we read, "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him" (Heb. 5: 8, 9).

     Beloved, just imagine if Jesus had not been crucified. There would be no perfect sacrifice, no justification, no perfect example of love, no access to heaven, redemption would not be available, no prayer in Jesus' name, the church would not be in existence, and there would be no ultimate example of obedience for us to mimic (to name just a few consequences). However, Jesus did come and die. He tasted death for every man (Heb. 2: 9). The question is, what are you and I doing about Jesus' sacrificial death? Too many continue to live selfish lives as if Jesus had not died (2 Cor. 5: 15).  (To read more about salvation, click on "What Must I do to be Saved?" and "The Crucifixion")