Jesus Died and Arose for Our Salvation – Matthew 27:33-44; 28:1-7
Today we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave. However, there have been individuals in the past and perhaps some now who question the identity and authority of One who had proclaimed Himself to be the Son of God. Speaking from a human perspective it would be logical to surmise that a Deity, Jesus Christ the Son of God, would not submit Himself to the inglorious indignity of being put to death at the hands of weak and incompetent men who owed their very existence to Him. Certainly, the Son of God possessed both the authority and inherent power to save Himself or did He.
Matthew 27:39-43 clearly reveals that some passing-by the crucifixion site, chief priests, scribes and elders in Jerusalem ridiculed Jesus while He was hanging on the cross. These individuals surmised that if Jesus was the Son of God, He would be able to save Himself. They stated that Jesus removing Himself from the cross would be such a powerful demonstration that it would make them instant believers of His deity. Nevertheless, a demonstration attesting to Jesus’ deity did not occur and Matthew 27:46 cites that He died circa the ninth hour of the day (3 PM). Undoubtedly, some concluded that Jesus’ apparent inability to save Himself proved that He was not the Son of God.
Coincidently, those who ridiculed Jesus did not know of a similar request that He had made on the previous night. In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed to His Father requesting that the bitter cup of His impending death be taken away (Mt 26:39). Despite this request Jesus had earlier acknowledged at a meal with His disciples that the pouring out of His blood was required for the forgiveness of sins committed by humanity (Mt 26:28).
Jesus fully understood that His purpose on the earth was salvific - to bring humanity back into a righteous relationship with God. Prior to His birth Joseph, the espoused husband of His mother was informed by an angel that the child conceived in Mary’s womb by the Holy Spirit was already given a specific name. That name would be Jesus (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Yeshua) for He would save His people from their sins (Mt 1:21).
At the appropriate time Jesus set out to fulfill His salvific purpose. Matthew 4:18-19 notes the calling of Andrew and Peter as disciples and His statement to them that they would become “fishers of men.” An explicit acknowledgement of Jesus’ salvific purpose would be the words that He spoke Himself. John 3:16-17 states those words – “for God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”
The mockers at the cross certainly were speaking the truth when they stated that Jesus saved others but could not save Himself. They did not realize that His self-preservation would nullify the express purpose of His coming. For salvation to be granted to humanity the ultimate price had to be paid. That ultimate price was death. Romans 6:23 plainly states that “… the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Jesus perfectly understood that the “pouring out of His blood” was an absolute necessity for the provision of salvation for humanity.
Jesus was fully committed to fulfilling the purpose of His Father and knew that any act of Self-preservation would have negated the provision of salvation for humanity. However, His death on Calvary’s cross is not the end of the story. The four Gospel writers, Matthew-Mark-Luke-John, all give witness that Jesus arose from the grave. The Apostle Paul writes that he saw Him and notes that on one occasion more than five-hundred brethren saw Him simultaneously (I Co 15:6-8).
Although Jesus did not save Himself from death on the cross His resurrection from the grave was also necessary for humanity’s salvation. Death has reigned over humanity since Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden and if Jesus had remained in the grave death would have continued to reign. But All Praises Be Unto God for He provided salvation for all who will 1) believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, 2) ask forgiveness for sin, and 3) commit to living a Godly life via the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.