The significance of the sacrifice

(Kerron Joseph) #1

Good day friends,

I often engage in a discussion with a colleague from another world view and we were casually bouncing ideas off one another which I do enjoy. But in this particular time, I was ask a question that I have never thought about.

The question was "if Jesus resurrected, why is his sacrifice significant? And how can 3 days be sufficient for him to bear the punishment for all sin but I have to spend an eternity for just my sin?

Perhaps the answer is obvious but I would like to hear your thoughts on this question.

(Brittany Bowman) #2

This is a wonderful question. I really hope to learn from others here, too. This Ask Away podcast touched on Christ’s suffering a bit. I would love to hear your thoughts on it! What stands out to you in it?

(Kerron Joseph) #3

The podcast definitely speaks to the significance of his suffering and I love the examples used. I think my biggest take away is the understanding that though suffering may be insignificant in the big picture, it is still real. I also love the point Vince made about the impact of suffering hinging on our starting point.

(Matthew Mingus) #4

I believe the significance of Jesus rising from the dead is something that we cannot ignore either. Everything centers around what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross, but if He did not rise again, then we have some serious issues in our beliefs and where they are leading us. In rising from the dead, Jesus defeated death, which is the earned wage of all sin (Romans 6:23), and through that defeat of death He offers to us eternal life. The entirety of what Jesus did on the cross has insurmountable significance to us, and all the pieces of it fit together to fulfill what Christ said He would do. He died, payment for sin, He rose, the defeat of death, and He now offers us the forgiveness that He paid for on the cross.
Jesus Christ rising from the dead gives meaning to the whole sacrifice. It is through His rising from the dead that we have hope in the promise of eternal life through Him. So far from removing the significance from His sacrifice on the cross, Jesus rising provides ultimate significance to His sacrifice.
As far as your other question about the three days, my thought on that is that we are sinful beings. Christ is not only sinless, but He is also perfect and holy, He is God. Only Christ could have made the payment for all the sins of mankind because only He was the Lamb without blemish, the ultimate sacrifice. Yes we have to spend an eternity for our sins, but we are also fallen, sinful creatures who deserve the punishment of hell. However, God loved us enough to provide for that ultimate sacrifice so that we do not have to endure that eternal punishment.
Hopefully these thoughts have helped and if you have any other questions, please ask them. God bless you and thank you.

(Kerron Joseph) #5

Points well received. To add to the second part question, what I told my colleague is that it assumes that the more evil one has to pay for, the longer one must suffer but in our world we punish the acts we deem to be most evil with the death penalty which is almost instant and crimes of less evil are given lengthy sentences. So I think how long he suffered has no bearing on the significance of the act.

In fact, I like to think of Jesus’ sacrifice like this. He didn’t trade places with us, he came to suffer with us and then paid for our freedom. If someone was a slave and you came to pay for their freedom, unless your method was to work off their debts for them, there is no prerequisite for you to do so. If they refuse your help, even if it’s just about refusing you specifically and not your act, they must now face the reality of paying their own debts because in refusing the giver one also refuses what is given.

That was my train of thought. Of course it can be wrong so feel free to comment. It would be welcomed and appreciated :slight_smile:

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(Brittany Bowman) #6

I wonder if an important question to ask your friend is a specific number of days Christ should have remained dead? That number can be hard to quantify and may give insight into what exactly your friend’s concerns are.

If three isn’t enough, then why stop at 10 or 1,000? After that point, why not just stay dead? Fundamentally, the crucifixion story isn’t just significant because Christ took our sins, but also because Christ conquered death. I really like these two thoughts from this Gospel Coalition article because of the fate Christ saves us from.

Here are two of the points the article brings up if Christ were not raised from the dead…

All of humanity remains captive to sin. Paul’s words become a damning sentence for the guilty: “The wages of sin is death.” Our world remains captive to sin, still enslaved to death. And without the resurrection, Romans 8 will never come to pass.

Everyone who died is in hell. There remains no sacrifice for sins, if Christ is not raised. This consequence follows from the previous one and means that every human being will face the full, unmediated wrath of God for all eternity.

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(Ruth Marie Romero) #7

Good question that I don’t have an answer for. I have posted a question concerning hell and received great feedback. Hell might not be for eternity after all which would negate the second part of your friend’s question to some degree. You might want to take a look at the topic called Concerning Hell.

I think it’s hard to explain the death and resurrection of Jesus to unbelievers because it is such a heart thing more than a head thing.

(Andrew Bulin) #8

Thanks for the great question!

What stands out to me is the premise on which the question is built. It seems to me that the inference is did Christ really suffered humanly and physically enough to warrant it a great sacrifice, especially in the light of His future resurrection, and in comparison to the punishment of humankind.

First of all, I do not want to make light of His sufferings. In the garden of Gethsemane, He was greatly troubled (Lk. 22:39-45) while He spent His time in prayer to the Father (the right attitude in that situation). Prior to that, He was troubled a number of times while having the last supper with His disciples, while He also chose to serve them and wash their feet (a compelling attitude when you are under pressure). I’m reading a book by Martin Hengel called Crucifixion that has been very helpful for me to better understand how dirty, humiliating and awful that cross really was. It was a literal curse word even centuries after Christ. But the most important factor may not have been the pain of the sacrifice.

The heart of the Christian message, which Paul described as the ‘word of the cross’ (λόγος το  σταυρο ), ran counter not only to Roman political thinking, but to the whole ethos of religion in ancient times and in particular to the ideas of God held by educated people. [1]

Jesus acted in contrary to the expectation of a god. To the people of that time, God would not come down, yield His power, serve man, and then die for them. The humiliation in God becoming man is a powerful statement in the beginning of Christ’s sufferings, not just the incident of the cross. Instead of considering just the incident of the cross, His coming, living, and dying are all a part of His suffering and example to humankind:

John 15:12-13 NASB
[12] "This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. [13] Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.

Beyond just an example, we can now dive into how a Jesus, God-and-man, perfect and without sin, stepped into humankind’s place as the final sacrifice for sin, coming down and experiencing separation from the Father was all to bring us back closer to God. Something He never needed to experience, but willingly did on our account. And then ultimately His resurrection speaks to the power of God to do likewise for us all.

If we look at the physical happenings of Christ, we risk ignoring the bigger, supernatural happenings of a God who was willing to lay it all down (Philip. 2:6-7). Of course, it may be hard to have a logical discussion with your colleague as the cross is simply foolishness to people (1 Cor. 1:18). But I pray that if God is drawing him to Himself, I pray his heart opens to allow the seeds you are planting to begin to take root.

Thank you for your willingness to serve as a testimony to Christ’s faithfulness. I hope any of this is helpful, or spurs more conversation. :slight_smile:

[1] Martin Hengel, Crucifixion, in the Ancient World and the Folly of the Message of the Cross (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1977), 150.