Key Features Of Jesus’ Death

 

Key Features Of Jesus’ Death

 

The sinless Jesus Christ did not die by the normal means prescribed for great sinners in the Law of Moses. The main death penalty stated in the Law was stoning (see Deuteronomy 13:6-10, Leviticus 20:1-5, 20:10, 20:27, 24:10-23 and Numbers 15:32-36). Under the Mosaic Covenant, on some occasions God required certain people to be killed with a sword (see Exodus 32:27) or shot with an arrow (see Exodus 19:13). Instead of being stoned, killed with a sword or shot by an arrow, Jesus suffered the worst type of death pronounced under Roman law – the slow agonising death by crucifixion.

Crucifixion was never used on Roman citizens, but only on those who were regarded as the worst scum of their society.

Deuteronomy 21:22-23 shows God said to Moses that any person who was hung on a tree was under God’s curse: “If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree…for he who is hanged is accursed of God.”

Galatians 3:13 applies the truth of Deuteronomy 21:22-23 to Jesus hanging on the Cross. Hanging on a wooden cross was like hanging on a tree. By being crucified on the Roman cross, Jesus Christ not only suffered the worst Roman death penalty, but also fulfilled the key aspect of the punishment and curse decreed in the Law of Moses for the worst sinners.

 

Some of the awful things Jesus suffered in our place

 

The things which contributed to Jesus’ death are a part of the actual death penalty He suffered as our substitute. While reading the following, we need to remind ourselves that because of our sinful nature and actual sins we deserved to suffer each of these horrible punishments also.

Isaiah 52:13-15, 53:1-12 and Psalm 22 contain graphic prophesied descriptions of the terrible sufferings that the Lord Jesus endured leading to His death. Isaiah 52:14 says: “…so His visage was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men.” Isaiah 53:5 states: “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.”

The above verse prophesied that the wounding by the Roman’s spear, the bruising through being beaten on the head and the whipping were part of the atonement for our sins. In the original Hebrew, the word “wounded” here is “halal” which means “to pierce, to stab”. [1] In the original Hebrew, the word “stripes” here is “habbura” which means “weal…the mark or print of blows to the skin”. [2] A weal is a streak left on the skin by a blow of a stick or whip.

Matthew 27:26-31 also records some of the horrendous things Jesus had to face: “Then he released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole garrison around Him. And they stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, ‘Hail King of the Jews!’ Then they spat on Him, and took the reed and struck Him on the head. And when they had mocked Him, they took the robe off Him, and led Him away to be crucified.” It is questionable whether we can regard such things as their spitting on Christ as atoning. But anything which contributed in any way to Jesus’ death is a part of the whole process of His atoning crucifixion.

 

Jesus suffered more than physical bodily pain

 

While dying on the cross, the Lord Jesus did not just suffer physical bodily pain. He also suffered greatly in His human mind, emotions and human spirit. In Chapter      , “Regeneration”, we see the human heart comprises the human spirit, mind, emotions and will. So the suffering experienced in Jesus’ human mind and emotions was also experienced in His human spirit.

Psalm 22:14-17 prophesies some of the terrible suffering Jesus’ heart and body would experience while dying: “I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it has melted within Me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and My tongue clings to My jaws; you have brought Me to the dust of death. For dogs have surrounded Me; the congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones…” Matthew 27:35 quotes Psalm 22:18 as being fulfilled at the time of Jesus’ death.

Isaiah 53:10 and 12 speak of Jesus’ human soul suffering much while He was dying: “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin…He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many…”

Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:45, John 10:11, 10:17, 10:18, 15:13 and 1 John 3:16 all teach that Jesus gave up His life for us. Matthew 20:28 records His words: “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” In the original Greek, the word for “life” here is “psuche”. In general, “psuche” means “soul, life” [3] or “breath of life, the natural life or the seat of personality”. [4]

Also note because of the union between Jesus’ Divine Spirit – the Logos or Word of God – and His human spirit, His Divine Spirit suffered greatly in one sense also. [5]

As stated in Chapter        “Atonement”, Isaiah 53:5 indicates it was the whole process of Jesus’ death by crucifixion which atoned for sin and not just the final point of death.

 

Bible Study Questions

 

1.  How does Deuteronomy 21:22-23 apply to Jesus’ death?

2.  Explain what Isaiah 53:5 and Matthew 27:26-31 reveal Jesus suffered.

3.  Discuss what Jesus suffered on the Cross which was more than physical bodily pain.


 

[1] Wilson, page 490.

[2] Ibid, page 424.

[3] Bauer, page 893.

[4] Vine, page 368.

[5] Christ had both a Divine Spirit and a human spirit. If He did not have a human spirit, He would not be fully human. Note in Matthew 27:50 and Luke 23:46, the King James Version, New King James Version and New American Standard Bible translate the Greek word for “spirit” as referring to Jesus’ human spirit. The difficulty, however, is the original Greek does not distinguish between capital and smaller letters. So it is often hard to know if a reference to Christ’s spirit is His Divine Spirit or His human spirit.

 

 


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