Jesus came with the express purpose of preaching the good news of the kingdom, living a godly life, and dying as a sacrifice for our sins.
Here is the illustration of the states or events in Christ’s life:
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This purpose of his death (and burial) shapes the entire Christ event—his birth, life, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension. So what do these historical events mean for us today, living two thousand years afterwards? How can we get to know him better?
If you would like to see the following verses in many translations and in their contexts, please go to biblegateway.com.
What caused his death?
This one is easy to answer. God ordained that Jesus would die for the sins of the world, as he shed his blood (Luke 22:20). He died by crucifixion (Nu. 21:8-9 and John 3:14-15; Deut. 21:23 and Gal. 3:13). On a human level, the Jewish and Roman authorities put him to death on the charge that he was seeking to be a king (Matt. 27:37). Also, the high priest charged him with blasphemy for affirming the question that he is the Christ, the Son of God (Matt. 26:63-65).
The Table below lists scriptures that God carefully fulfilled in Christ about his death, revealing that God orchestrated things behind the scenes. Therefore, no one should be deluded with anti-Semitism.
Was his death predicted?
This Table lists only some of the prophecies in the Old Testament that find their fulfillment in the New Testament. They specifically deal with the death of Christ and the events leading up to and during and after his crucifixion.
|Old Testament||Topic||New Testament|
|Is. 53:6-7 The Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all . . . He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.||Suffering Lamb of God||Jn. 1:29 Look, the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.|
|Ex. 24:8 Moses . . . said, “This is the blood of the covenant.”||Blood of the Covenant||Mt. 26:28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.|
|Is. 50:6 I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting.||Beaten, spit on, and mocked||Mk. 15:15, 19-20 Pilate . . . had Jesus flogged . . . Again and again the soldiers struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him . . . they mocked him.|
|Zech. 11:12 So they paid me thirty pieces of silver.||Thirty pieces of silver||Mt. 26:15 So they counted out for [Judas] thirty pieces of silver.|
|Zech 12:10 They will look on me, the one they pierced.||They will look on the one they pierced||Jn. 19:34, 37 One of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side . . . They will look on the one they pierced.|
|Ps. 22:18 They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.||Divided and cast lost for his garments||Jn. 19:23-24 When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them . . . with the undergarment remaining . . . They said . . . “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.”|
|Is. 53:12 He poured out his life unto death and was numbered with the transgressors.||Numbered with transgressors||Lk. 23:32-33 Two other men, both criminals, also were led out to be executed . . . they crucified [Jesus] along with criminals—one on his right, the other on his left.|
|Ps 22:7-8 All who see me mock me and hurl insults, shaking their heads.||Mocked by a crowd||Mt. 27:39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads.|
|Ps. 69:21 They . . . gave me vinegar for my thirst.||Vinegar for thirst||Jn. 19:28-29 Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a hyssop plant, and lifted it up to Jesus’ lips.|
|Nu. 9:12 They must not leave any of [the lamb] until morning or break any of its bones. (Cf. Ex. 12:46, Ps. 34:20)||No broken bones||Jn. 19:36 These things happened so that scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.”|
The Table demonstrates that the Bible accurate, reliable, and faithful. It is impossible that this alignment of prophecies spoken hundreds of years before their fulfillment in the New Testament could be forged. The enemies of earliest Christianity could double-check the Old Testament with the events in Christ’s life, which were fresh in everyone’s memory. In fact, some enemies were hard at work explaining away and covering up the Resurrection. The chief priests and elders bribed the guards of the tomb of Jesus. They were to say that the disciples stole the body; it was not resurrected (Matt. 28:11-15). In this hostile environment, Jesus Christ accurately fulfills Old Testament prophecies, and the authors of New Testament remembered this.
To end this section, here are passages in which Jesus predicts his own death in specific terms: Matt. 12:39-41 and Luke 11:29:30; cf. Mark 8:31 and Luke 9:21-27, 9:43; Matt. 20:17-19, cf. Mark 10:32-34; Luke 18:31-33; John 12:20-26.
Therefore, it is impossible to deny the actual and physical crucifixion. This is the climax of the Four Gospels, along with his resurrection and ascension.
What were his last words?
Jesus speaks important, final words on the Cross, and they fulfill Old Testament prophecies.
|Old Testament||Topic||New Testament|
|Ps. 22:1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?||Forsaken as the sins of the world are taken on himself||Mt. 27:46 “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”|
|Is. 53:12 He bore the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors.||Interceding for transgressors||Lk. 23:32, 42-43 Two other men, both criminals, were led out with him to be executed . . . [A criminal] said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”|
|Ps. 31:5 Into your hands I commit my spirit.||Committing his spirit to his Father||Lk. 23:46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”|
Jesus spoke important words either just before the crucifixion or without a direct fulfillment of an Old Testament prophecy. For example, as Jesus was carrying his Cross to the place of crucifixion, he heard women weeping and wailing for him. He takes time to teach them, though under personal duress, about future events, which will cause them distress. They should not weep for him, therefore, but for themselves and their children (Luke 23:27-31).
While on the Cross he speaks words of forgiveness for those who were crucifying him.
Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. (Luke 23:34)
Finally, on the Cross he announces this blessed fact: “It is finished” (John 19:30). This means that Jesus is the victor. He accomplished everything that the Father purposed him to do while on earth.
Where did he die?
He died outside Jerusalem, on a hill called Golgotha, meaning “the Place of the Skull.” But the most important place is on the Cross.
How did his followers react?
Luke 23:27-31 describes a large crowd following him as he carried his Cross to Golgotha. The women were weeping. This is to be expected. But what about his immediate disciples? They were scattered like sheep without a shepherd, as the Old Testament predicted.
|Old Testament||Topic||New Testament|
|Zech. 13:7 Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.||Struck shepherd; scattered sheep||Mt. 26:31-32 Then Jesus said to [his disciples], “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”|
The good news is that after his ascension, Jesus regathered his disciples and commissioned them to go into all the world and preach the gospel (Matt. 28:18-20). They did not wage wars on each other or assassinate each other. All but one of the Twelve (after a replacement for Judas was appointed) were martyred by local authorities or mobs. These apostles and later generations of Christians turned the world right-side up by preaching alone, not by violence and military conquests.
What was the purpose of his death?
The death of Jesus has a divine purpose, which can be subdivided into related multiple purposes. The Table of prophecies of the Old Testament and their fulfillment in the New Testament (see “Was his death predicted?” above) outlines many of them, but three stand out, though two of the three are not mentioned in any Table here.
Luke 22:20 says:
In the same way, after the supper [Jesus] took the cup, saying, “This is the cup of the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for many.”
The second purpose is related to the first. Jesus dies for our sins, so we no longer have to fear being judged by a holy and righteous God.
Matt. 26:28 says:
This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Finally, the third purpose is the fact that Jesus is our Redeemer.
Matt. 20:28 says:
… The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
Jesus did not come to be pampered and served by slaves. In fact, the Greek word for “ransom” was commonly used for the price to redeem a slave. Thus, Christ uses his priceless life to redeem us from the slavery of sin and Satan.
So how can I know Jesus better?
Jesus came with the express purpose to preach the good news of the kingdom, to live a godly life, and to die as a sacrifice for our sins. And this purpose shapes his birth, life, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension.
Jesus was destined by God to die for the sins of the world. Before his death, however, he healed many with illnesses and even demon possession, in an atmosphere of faith. His mission was to set them free of ailments.
Jesus forgave his crucifiers. He prayed for a criminal and promised him that he would be in paradise. Jesus knew where he was going—back to heaven where he originally came from.
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
Jesus answered [the criminal], “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)
Jesus was raised from the dead, bodily, as the earliest Christians said it was. The following passage comes from the Gospel of Mark and says that Jesus was raised from the dead, bodily and physically.
1 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’ “
8 Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid. (Mark 16:1-8)
He has risen. The tomb is empty.
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. (Rom. 8:11)
Messianic Prophecies (a huge table of prophecies)
ARTICLES IN “DO I REALLY KNOW JESUS?” SERIES
9. Do I Really Know Jesus? He Died for You
The Tables are adapted from Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson (eds.), The Popular Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy, pp. 219-223. Harvest House, 2004.