Monday, November 1, 2010

Tasting Death for all Mankind

As I was reading this morning in Leviticus, it struck me that one of the differences between the animal sacrifices of the Levitical system and the sacrifice of Christ on the cross (who was the perfect and final sacrifice) was suffering.
As far as I can gather from reading through the Old Testament Law all animals were killed for the sacrifices in a quick and exact way. The point was not to make the animal suffer-  rather the point was that the price needed to be paid; and it seems that God was merciful in the way that He instructed the priests to slay the animals.
But, when we think of Christ and how He suffered for hours it causes me to pause and consider this difference. Why did Christ suffer? Wouldn't it have been more humane for God to arrange a quick death for His Son? Wouldn't the price have still been paid and sins atoned for? Wasn't it most agonizing for the Father to see His Son suffer as He did?
We certainly can not plummet the depths of why God arranged redemption as He did, but we do know a couple things from Scripture-

  • Old Testament prophecy demanded that Christ suffer.

Acts 3:18
"18 But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled."

Hebrews 2 gives the following reasons:

  • That Christ might be crowned with glory and honor

  • That Christ might taste death for everyone

  • Christ's obedience was perfected through suffering

  • So that Christ might be a merciful and faithful High Priest

  • So that Christ might help us when we suffer temptation

Hebrews 2:9-18
"But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers,12 saying,

“I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”

13 And again,“I will put my trust in him.” And again,“Behold, I and the children God has given me.”

14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

  • Christ suffered as an example so that we might know how to endure suffering in this life

1 Peter 2:20-23

20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly."

I believe that the wretched nature of our sin required that Christ suffer, and I am filled with joy this morning that my Savior took that upon Himself so that I will never have to taste the death that should result from my sin.

Praise God for the glorious gospel!