This past weekend Christians everywhere celebrated Resurrection Sunday, Easter, as it has become commonly known, the day marked as the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus. Perhaps in your church service you recalled the wonderful Resurrection passages of Mark 16, Matthew 28, or Luke 24, no doubt standard sermons preached in churches throughout the world. Perhaps the majority of overflowing Easter Sunday churches could recite the facts of these passages by memory, likely both believers and non-believers. But there is so much more that the Bible teaches on the death and resurrection of Jesus, so much more that we aren’t taught, lest it be deemed offensive or challenging to our minds. This post won’t be sufficient to cover all of these, but there are a few passages we’ll review that we rarely if ever hear preached.
I remember when Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion was released it brought quite a bit of controversy and debate with regard to who was responsible for Jesus’ death, i.e. the Jews who cried out crucify Him or the Romans who were the ones physically driving in the nails. Maybe even each of these roles was discussed in your own Easter services or programs this past weekend. But today, we are going to briefly look at who was ultimately responsible for the death of Jesus and it might surprise you, especially if you’re not familiar with these passages.
In Isaiah 53 the prophet details the plan and purpose for Christ’s death on the cross and in verse 10 we get our first insight into Who was responsible. “Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief.” Isaiah 53:10 ESV This is an absolutely amazing revelation by Isaiah, that Christ’s death on the cross was the will of the Lord, not that of Pilate or the Romans, not Judas, not the Pharisees or Jewish people, but God. Earlier in this chapter we read, “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned-every one-to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:4-6 ESV Jesus’ death was not a backup plan for sin, it was the only plan and it was prepared before the foundation of the earth. God sent His Son Jesus to die for our sins and it was those sins that put Him on the cross. Yet it was God’s purpose in the plan of salvation to save sinners from His own wrath through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus. The Apostle Paul proclaims in I Corinthians 5:21 ESV, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” He, God the Father, made Him, God the Son, to be sin who knew no sin. God’s plan, God’s implementation, and God’s will.
We can see further support for the implementation of God’s plan in Acts 4:26-27 ESV where we read, “for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.” Herod, Pontius Pilate, Jews and Gentiles (Romans) alike were all part of God’s predestined plan. This is not something to be taken lightly or to be trivial about, but to stop and bow in reverence to the almighty, sovereign God of the universe who loved us so much that He was willing to plan the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus. In doing so Jesus became the propitiation, or appeasement, for our sins that averts God’s own wrath and judgment of sin from believers to His only begotten Son. “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” I John 4:10 ESV Not only this, but Jesus gave Himself willingly and was obedient to the Father’s will, even to the point of death, “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:8 ESV
I don’t know the number of Easter services I’ve attended in my life, but I’ve never heard this passage from Isaiah preached on. We cannot remove the role God played in Christ’s death lest we be left with no Gospel because there would be no power in Christ’s death to forgive our sins. The truths of the Word of God are so breathtaking and humbling, yet if we fail to spend time seeking Him, we’ll miss out on knowing more about who He is. The entire Resurrection weekend is about God’s plan to send Jesus to die on the cross for the sins of all those who believe in Him, to uphold His own glory by pouring out His righteous wrath on His own Son, whom He loves infinitely, for Jesus to be our substitute and pay our penalty of sin by His death, and for Jesus to raise Himself from the dead, conquering the one remaining enemy and with that giving believers the hope of eternal life in Him. This is the Gospel and it should change our lives, change our hearts, it should make us stop in awe and wonder at the majesty of God, yet so many people disregard it and trivialize it, especially on Easter Sunday otherwise the churches would be just as crowded the following Sunday. Don’t dismiss this dear friend, it’s not just a once a year celebration, it’s a lifetime of rejoicing in the atoning work of Christ Jesus on the cross. Repent and Believe.
Matthew 21:42 ESV Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?
Romans 5:8 ESV but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.