The text for this lesson is Luke 8:22–25
- Jesus has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person.
- Law: For my sin, I deserve to be forsaken and condemned; yet when I suffer, I protest and blame God. Jesus was arrested, beaten, and tortured to death on the cross for my sin, not His.
- Gospel: When He is reviled, He does not revile in return. Instead, Jesus prays for me from the cross, asking His Father to forgive me. Through the evil of His death, He works the good of my salvation.
- Our Lord’s suffering, death, and resurrection are the center of our faith. Nothing else that has ever happened can make any sense unless it is viewed through the lens of the cross. On Thursday night, Jesus is arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, and then He is illegally tried at night. After three trials, He is handed over to be crucified. Just before Pilate gives the death order, he famously washes his hands and says, “I am innocent of this man’s blood” (Matthew 27:24), and the Jews reply, “His blood be on us and on our children!” (v. 25). After Jesus’ resurrection, the tomb guards are bribed by the Jews. Matthew closes his Gospel with the Great Commission.
- In Old Testament sacrificial law, those who offered a sin offering had to place their hands on the animal that was going to be sacrificed to claim it as their own (Leviticus 1:4; 4:4; etc.). In Matthew’s account of Jesus’ death, the soldiers strike Him (26:67), and the people demand His crucifixion (27:23) and ask for His blood to be on them and their children (v. 25). In this way, without even knowing it, the people of Israel claim Jesus as an offering for their sin. And He is.
Jesus goes to the cross at His Father’s command. It is the Father’s will to crush Him and make Him an offering for sin (Isaiah 53:10). In Matthew’s account, the only words that Jesus speaks from the cross are when He prays Psalm 22. He is the silent, willing sacrifice on whom God the Father pours all of His wrath against sinful humanity. Jesus willingly suffers all that we deserve, and then He yields His spirit and dies.
Our Lord’s suffering and death on the cross is the culmination of the entire Old Testament, beginning with the promise to Eve immediately after the fall into sin (Genesis 3:15). God promised that the Seed of Eve would crush the head of the serpent through His own death.
Throughout the Old Testament, the prophecies of Christ’s suffering and death become more and more specific. With the Davidic covenant we learn that one of David’s descendants would sit on his throne forever (2 Samuel 7:13) and that He would be regarded as the Son of God (v. 14). With Isaiah, we learn many details about what would happen on the cross (52:13–53:12). Every book of the Old Testament points to salvation through Christ or foreshadows His death and resurrection.
When we move to the New Testament, we find that it interprets Jesus’ death very consistently. His death wins salvation for the whole world (John 3:16) and is the chief way in which God demonstrates His love for us (1 John 4:9–10). God saves us while we are still sinners (Romans 5:6). The cross is so central and so important that Paul is willing to say that he preaches nothing but Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2).
On a Friday afternoon in the spring of AD 33, God died on a cross as our substitute. Because Jesus is a man, He was able to die in our place. Because He is God, His punishment was sufficient to pay for all sin. Our Lord’s suffering, death, and resurrection are, indeed, the center of our faith.