Why did Jesus die on the cross?

"The Passion of the Christ"

A Message from Greg Laurie

T he screenplay for The Passion of the Christ was adapted by director/ producer Mel Gibson and depicts the last twelve hours of Christ’s life on earth. It was assembled from the four Biblical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The film presents a moving and factual account of the last words ever spoken by the One whom millions know as Savior.

The most famous and important “last words” ever uttered were the final statements of Jesus Christ, made as He hung on the cross.

Sometimes people know they are giving their last words. Nathan Hale, American patriot, was to be hanged for spying on the British for the U.S. His last words were, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”

Sometimes people don’t know when they will be giving their last words. The last words JFK ever spoke were, “That’s obvious!” That statement was given in response to the comment, “Mr. President, you can’t say that Dallas doesn’t love you.”

But what a difference Jesus makes. He knew what lay ahead of Him and when His final words would come.

"Again he took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him. 'We are going up to Jerusalem,' he said, 'and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.' ” (Mark 10:32-34)

On the cross, with nails searing His hands and His feet, He was barely able to lift Himself to breathe, much less to speak. Add to this the fact that He had been brutally beaten by His accusers. How amazing, then, that the first statement uttered by Jesus from His cross was a prayer of forgiveness for His enemies:

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

Jesus’ second statement was an answer to someone else’s prayer. It was an answer addressed to a single individual, an admitted thief hanging on a cross next to Him. With his life ebbing away, this man recognized who Jesus was. His last words, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom,” were answered by the Lord as though that man were the only person in the world.

“Today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

Jesus’ next statement was to His mother and to His close friend, the Apostle John:

“When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Dear woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ (John 19:26)

A few hours after that, Jesus cried out to God:

“Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:45-46)

When Jesus cried out these words, they were not the delusions of a man in pain. His faith was not failing Him. As Christ hung there, He was bearing the sins of the world. He was dying as a substitute for others. To Him was imputed the guilt of their sins, and He was suffering the punishment for those sins on their behalf. The physical pains of crucifixion, horrible as they were, were nothing compared to the wrath of the Father being poured out upon Him.

In short, Jesus was dying on that cross for your sins and mine. The Apostle Paul said that Jesus “loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). And Jesus loves you too, and He gave Himself for you.

After this ordeal, Jesus gave His fifth statement from the cross and the first words of a personal nature:

“I am thirsty!” (John 19:28)

Jesus then uttered His famous last words:

"It is finished!” (John 19:30)

The word “finished” is translated many ways: “It is made an end of.” “It is paid.” “It is accomplished!” But what was made an end of?—Our sins and guilt that accompanied them. What was paid?—The price of redemption! What was accomplished?—The work the Father had given the Son to do.

Jesus’ final prayer to His Father was:

“Father, into your hands I commit my Spirit.” (Luke 23:46)

Jesus had completed the work He had come to do—to die for your sins so you could be forgiven. Then after three days, Jesus Christ rose from the dead, and He is alive and here right now wanting to come into your life! If you ever are tempted to doubt God’s love for you, just take a long look at the cross that Christ hung on for you. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

During His physical lifetime Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). If there had been any other way to save you, He would have found it. If living a good moral life would save you, Jesus would never had died. But He did—because there was no other way for you to be forgiven of your sin.

God sacrificed His Son for you because He loves you. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

So how do we respond?

1. Admit our sin. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)

2. Realize Jesus died on that cross for us. "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)

3. Repent of our sin. "[God] commands all people everywhere to repent." (Acts 17:30)

4. Receive Jesus Christ into our lives. "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." (John 1:12)

Maybe you’re reading this today and you’ve never committed your life to Jesus Christ. You don’t know His forgiveness. You don’t know that you would go to heaven if you died right now. Why don’t you ask Jesus to come into your life and forgive you? Take a moment right now and say a prayer like this one:

Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I am sorry for my sin. I repent of it and I turn to You by faith right now. I thank You for dying on the cross for me and paying the price for all of my sins. I ask You to come into my life right now and be my Savior, my Lord, and my Friend. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit. Help me to be Your disciple from this moment forward. Thank You, Lord. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

If you just prayed this prayer, or would like to pray it outloud with someone,

we invite you to call toll-free: 1-866-782-7927.

 

If you have just made the decision to place your faith in Jesus Christ and would like some free information about how to live as a Christian, please write: ATS, P.O. Box 462008, Garland, TX 75046, call toll-free, 1-866-782-7927, or visit www.ichoosejesus.com.

To contact Greg Laurie, you can reach him at greg@harvest.org or go to his website at www.harvest.org.

If you still have questions about Jesus Christ and Christianity, visit www.TryJesus.com to find real answers and read stories from people just like you.

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