Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die by John Piper“The passion of Jesus was absolutely unique, and his resurrection from the dead three days later was an act of God to vindicate what his death achieved…The controversy about who killed Jesus is marginal. He chose to die. His Father ordained it. He embraced it.”
The death of Christ was simultaneously the worst thing that ever happened and the best thing that ever happened. You may have seen (or even have) the bumper sticker that says, “Try Jesus – He died for the opportunity.” Personally, I find that offensive and here’s why: Christ’s death did more than merely make forgiveness from sin POSSIBLE. He accomplished what He came to earth to do, fulfilling the covenant made with His Father before the foundations of the world.
Originally entitled The Passion of Jesus Christ, in this book John Piper lists 50 things that Jesus accomplished by His death. This book makes for great daily devotional reading as each chapter is just two pages long and includes several scripture verses. Piper brings out the amazing truth and meaning of Christ’s death, all founded on God’s Word.
For example, by His death Jesus:
- obtained redemption for His people and forgiveness of sin (Eph.1:7, Act 10:43)
- achieved justification – the cancellation of the debt and guilt of sin (Col. 2:13)
- obtained righteousness for us – Christ’s imputed to the believer (II Cor. 5:21, Phil. 3:9)
- became the Propitiation for sin, meaning he absorbed and satisfied the wrath and justice of God. (Gal. 3:13. I John 4:10)
- became a substitute, and accepted and bore the punishment due for sin
- removed all condemnation from those who are in Christ (Rom. 8:1, 34)
- began the process of sanctification, securing certain holiness and perfection (Heb. 10:14)
- made reconciliation – that is peace – with God, restoring our relationship with God (Rom. 5:10)
- demonstrated God’s perfect, unconditional love to those undeserving of it (Rom. 5:7-8)
- defeated sin and death so He could give life to that which was dead (Heb. 13:20-21, Eph. 2:1)
- rescued His people from eternal judgment (Heb. 9:28; 10:27)
- secured eternal life with God (John 3:16, 11:25)
And that’s just getting started! According to the Word of God, Jesus didn’t just make salvation a possibility – He actually accomplished something when He died (and was truly able to say, “It is finished!”). If Christ did accomplish all of the above, and more, by His death, then how can it be said that His death was for everyone, even those who reject Him and never come to faith in Christ? What would be the point in Christ offering himself as a substitute for someone, only to have God reject that substitutionary offering and condemn the individual anyway? The verses above indicate that these things occurred by Christ’s death and that they are a reality, not just potential.
While most Christians have no problem saying, “Jesus died for ME,” they will then turn around and say He died for everyone equally. Certainly, Jesus came to “seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10) and “to give his life a ransom for MANY” (Mark 10:45). But the Scriptures also make it clear that Jesus died with a specific people in mind. Notice the direct objects and the pronouns used in the following verses:
“His name shall be called Jesus, for He shall save HIS people from THEIR sins” (Matt. 1:21)
“…just as Christ loved the CHURCH and gave His life up for HER” (Eph. 5:25).
“I lay down my life for the SHEEP…and I give eternal life to THEM…My Father, who has given them to me is greater than all” (John 10:15, 27-29).
In Jesus’ prayer in John 17, often called His high priestly prayer, He intercedes for a particular group of people – not only His disciples that were with Hm, but for all believers of all time. Jesus says to His Father, “The hour has come…that the Son may glorify You, even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life.” He goes on to pray for “the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me”(vs. 6), and a little later in His prayer He says, “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their [the disciples’] word” (vs. 20) and then “that the love with which You loved Me may be in them” (vs 26).
The true Gospel message is not: “Jesus Loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” Rather, it is: “God Saves Sinners.” Romans 5:6 states, “Christ died for the ungodly.” and Yes, one can say, “while WE were yet sinners, Christ died for US” (Rom. 5:8), but again in this last verse, the pronoun is specific because Paul is writing to fellow believers. Could an unbeliever make that same statement?
What a precious thought to know that Christ died with specific individuals in mind – that I can with a certainty say He died in MY place, and accomplished on my behalf everything that I could never do for myself.
This truth has further implications to me. If Christ truly died in my place, for my sins – not just for the general sins of the world – how can I ever take my sin lightly? How can I knowingly excuse, justify, tolerate, or ignore sin in my life, when it was those very sins that contributed to the pain and suffering of the holy and innocent Son of God?
Glory be to Jesus, who in bitter pains
Poured for me the lifeblood from his sacred veins!
Grace and life eternal in that blood I find;
Blest be his compassion, infinitely kind!
Blest through endless ages be the precious stream
Which from endless torments did the church redeem!
Lift we, then, our voices, swell the mighty flood,
Louder still and louder: praise the precious blood!
– Trans. by Edward Caswall, 1857
Note: This book is included on my list of non-fictional works I believe every Christian should read.
- John Piper’s Ministry (www.desiringgod.org)
- Did Jesus Really Have to Die? (www.bloggingtheologically.com)
- Christ Crucified for Us sermon series: Sermon #1 – “Christ in the Garden” (SermonAudio.com)
- The Active Obedience of Christ (thechristianmind.wordpress.com)
- Jesus Christ as Mediator (thechristiangazette.wordpress.com)
- Who Limits the Atonement? (abrahamsseed.wordpress.com)