The Story of Scripture, Part 13 – The Crucifixion and Resurection

As Jesus travelled throughout the greater Palestinian region, opposition to his ministry mounted. Eventually, the Jewish leaders crafted a deceitful plan to see him murdered. Once this was put into motion, it lead to the famous betrayal and arrest of Jesus. They proceeded to put him through a mock trial and then took him directly to the Roman governor for execution. After suffering extreme injustice, severe mockery and brutal torture, Jesus was handed over to suffer the most appalling of all deaths — a Roman crucifixion.

As Jesus hung on the cross, it soon became apparent to many that what they gave witness to was no ordinary death. Even some of the most hardened, who were present at the crucifixion, were lead to confess that Jesus was indeed the one he had claimed to be. The land was covered in an unexplainable darkness, the earth shook violently, and Jesus uttered his final cry. The shout, “It is finished”, rung out at the same time that the cries of slaughtered lambs filled the temple. True atonement had been made. The blood of the Lamb had been shed for the sins of his people. And as terrible as the suffering of crucifixion would have been, it stood as but an external symbol of the spiritual realities taking place at the same time. While every other one of God’s judgements in history (even the flood itself) are of a restrained nature, at this moment in time the full unrestrained wrath of God was vented upon Jesus Christ.  On the cross, God’s own Son was enduring the full wrath of hell in the place of his people.

After the crucifixion, Jesus’s body was buried in a tomb that was sealed and guarded with the highest level of Roman security. However, just as Jesus had predicted, this was not the end. In yet another great display of the supernatural, the tomb was powerfully opened. Moreover, it left the Jews, Romans and indeed all of Jerusalem with a great historical conundrum – Jesus no longer lay where they had left him.  Instead, as he himself had prophesied, he had risen from the dead.

While all of Jerusalem puzzled over this seemingly impossible event, Jesus met his disciples once again, and allowed them to examine him carefully so as to be sure that he was alive.  Indeed, over a period of the next forty days, he appeared to many witnesses–at one stage even to a crowd of five hundred people. During this time,  he explained to his disciples the great significance of all that they had witnessed, saying:

Luk 24:44-47;

…everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures…

Through Jesus’ own exposition of the Scriptures, and by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they finally came to understand. This is the very revelation now recorded for us in the books of the New Testament;

1Co 5:7b;

For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.

2Co 5:21;

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Heb 9:12-15;

…he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.

The Story of Scripture, Part 4 – Light Shines Amidst the Darkness

Gen 4:25;

And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.

Now exiled from Eden, Eve gave birth to her first son, Cain. Though she had surely anticipated that he would be the promised Savior, he turned out to be quite the opposite, even murdering his own brother and putting on full display what it would now be like to live in a fallen world.

Even so, sin spread rapidly; like an aggressive cancer. At the same time, however, we read of the way that God remained faithful to His promise, and started to preserve for himself a godly remnant.  Eve gave birth to another son, Seth, which then served to begin the lineage that would eventually lead to Christ, the promised Son. 

To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the LORD.

And so we see the beginnings of a theme and contrast that stays consistent throughout. The shining light of God’s promise against the background of vast, dark human rebellion.

In that regard, the next major figure in this lineage of grace, is Noah.

Gen 6:5-8;

The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. 

Once the effects of the fall were painfully evident, God unleashed judgement, and destroyed everything with a flood. However, because of the promise that he had made to Adam and Eve, God gave Noah instructions to build a boat that would keep him and his family safe. This was to act as a powerful foreshadowing of the predicament that man was in, and that his only hope was in the promise of grace through the coming Messiah. While the whole world will be subject to judgment, those (like Noah and his family), who have trusted in the promise of God’s word, would be saved. 

When the flood was over, God made a covenant with Noah: a covenant that promised the preservation of humanity. Though it had now been clearly shown that man deserved to be destroyed for their sins, God would nevertheless preserve a stage of humanity from whom the Saviour would come. In this sense, it would be by God’s common grace to all that the stage is preserved, so that special grace could be given to those who would place their trust in the Ark of God.

To confirm this, God established the rainbow as a covenant sign. The bow, which was an ancient symbol for war, would remind the world that the next time that God’s wrath would be aimed at man, it would be aimed upwards upon himself (in Jesus Christ) rather than downwards as it had been, upon the sons of men.

The Story of Scripture, Part 3 – Bad News and Good News

We ended on the last post, talking about Adam’s tragic failure, and the entry of sin. For the first time in human history, mankind began to run away from the presence of God. The whole world was now ruined by their rebellion. But the question was this: how would God respond to a world that had chosen to go its own way?

Firstly (as one might expect), God brought judgment. He told them that they would return to the dust. And while the idea of physical death was frightening enough, mankind would also face the reality of spiritual death and eternal judgment in hell.

At this point things would seem very dark indeed if it were not for the precious promise revealed in Gen 3:15.

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

Here, in seed form, is the first promise that God would send a Saviour. It is the first glorious fore-hailing of Christ. God promised to crush all the evil forces that Adam and Eve had unleashed in their foolish rebellion (Gen. 3:15). And it is really in this moment, just after our consideration of what was lost in the garden, that we are able to appreciate the purpose of this redemption most clearly. As Kline says: “The purpose of redemption is to bring to pass, in spite of the Fall, the realization of the eschatological goal of a consummate revelation of God’s Glory, as originally set for creation.”[1]

Put as simply as possible, a second Adam was needed, to do what the first Adam had failed to do. And this is exactly what is here promised. God told Adam and Eve that this salvation would come through their own offspring!Once again, we consider this image:

Can you imagine the incredible amount of joy and hope that they must have found in this promise?

Gen 3:20, says this: 

“The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.”

Adam and Eve go on to trust that God would save them through the coming Messiah. One day, there would be another federal head; another great prophet, priest and king — a second Adam. And even so, Adam named his wife ‘Eve’ – meaning, mother (not of the dead, as would otherwise have been the case) but instead; mother of the living, and this because of the coming Saviour.

Even so, God killed an innocent animal for their sake, as a foreshadowing of the very manner in which the promised Son would bring about their redemption.

Gen 3:21 ;

“And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.” 

God shed the blood (source of life) of the innocent as a substitute for the guilty so that they could be covered. However, until the foreshadowed reality was consummate, as a consequence of the fall mankind was no longer able to dwell in the presence of God.

In that regard, here is yet another haunting image to consider.

From this point, the next several millennia of human history are recorded for us in a few brief chapters (Gen. 3-11). It is a story of two interwoven developments. On the one hand, we see the increasing darkness of sin. On the other, we see God’s faithfulness to His gospel promise. We will explore these developments in the next post.

Notes;

 [1] Kline, M. G. (2006). God, Heaven and Har Magedon: A Covenantal Tale of Cosmos and Telos (p. 14). Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers.