Christ's Divine Sacrifice
There is an exchange that took place upon the cross and it is offered to all those who earnestly seek it. Jesus received the curses due us, that we might receive the blessings due Him. The apostle Paul reminds us of this exchange in his epistle to the church at
Galatia, "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree" (Gal 3:13).
The curses that Paul is referring to began with the fall of man and are described in Deuteronomy 28:15-68. They affect every part of a human being's life and are the results of disobeying God's commandments. God shared His counsel with the nation of Israel and encouraged them to choose blessings and life.
Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; 27A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day: 28And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known (Deut 11:26-28).
I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live (Deut 30:19).
However, man has chosen to ignore God's counsel and is struggling under the burden of curses and death. Jesus came to free us from this bondage and to suffer all the curses that we deserve.The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives, and release from darkness for the prisoners (Isa 61:1 NIV)
We are offered this freedom by the exchange that took place during Christ's crucifixion. The words of the prophet Isaiah will help us understand how this took place. They are recorded in Isaiah, Chapter 53, which is known as the Redemption chapter. Please notice how the prophet explains the personal nature of the crucifixion of our Savior and how many times the words our and he are used when speaking of the aspects of this exchange.
Isaiah sums up the reason for the cross in verse 6, when he states that, Jesus suffered "the punishment of us all." These scriptures should make it obvious that Christ died for
Only the sacrificial offering of the Lord Jesus can remove every curse and partition that stands between man and God. It is only through the atoning death of our Savior that man's relationship with God can be restored. The cross left nothing undone. It was so complete in nature, that nothing can be added to, nor taken away from it.
The following account of Christ's crucifixion will help us understand the impact of our punishment upon the body and spirit of Jesus. The Lord's last Passover meal had ended and His spirit became overwhelmed as He pondered the events of the next eighteen hours. He knew every horrifying detail of the gruesome murder that He was to suffer. For it was Jesus Himself, who had revealed them to the Old Testament prophets. The fate of mankind was upon His shoulders and God's desire for a family was at stake. It had to be accomplished in pure love; no human feelings of hate or revenge could be allowed to enter His heart. The hour had come, and the weight of the words of the Old Testament prophets would begin to torment the spirit of Jesus. Mark's account of this Passover evening describes the oppression of our Lord's heart.
Luke continues to explain the awesome weight that was upon the spirit of Jesus, "And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground" (Luke" 22:44). Jesus began to suffer from a medical conditions known as, "hemophidrosis" or "hematidrosis". According to the Christian physician, Dr. David Terasaka, this condition has been seen in patients who have experienced extreme stress, or shock to their system. The capillaries around the sweat pores become fragile and leak blood into the sweat. A case history is recorded in which a young girl, who had a fear of air raids in WW1, developed this conditions after a gas explosion occurred in the house next door.1
Dr. Terasaka goes on to describe the great agony that Jesus was experiencing, "It is here that Jesus agonized in prayer over what was to occur. It is significant that this is the only place in the KJV where the word "agony" is mentioned. The Greek word for agony means to be "engaged in combat". Jesus agonizes over what He is to go through, feeling that He is at the point of death (Mark 14:34)." The last recorded prayer of Christ's human life would be answered by the touch of an angel. "And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him" (Luke 22:43).
The tranquility of the garden was soon shattered as Judas led a multitude of armed citizens to seize Jesus and take Him to the Roman leader, Pontius Pilate (Mark 14:43). Although Pilate could find no fault with Jesus, he allowed his guards to beat, abuse and humiliate the very Son of God. The soldiers blindfolded Jesus and ridiculed His divinity. A mock crown was made of thorns and placed upon His head. The guards began to pound the two-inch thorns into Christ's scalp and skull. They also spit upon the Lord and struck Him on the face with their hands and a reed (Matt. 27:27-31 & Luke 22:63-65).
Bloody, humiliated and exhausted, Jesus would continue to be mocked and beaten throughout the night (Luke 22:66). The next morning He was led to the site of His execution. The ordeal of the night before would pale in comparison to the events that were about to take place.
It was customary to strip the clothing from the one who was to be crucified. Most likely, Jesus was also stripped of his clothing before He was nailed to the wooden members. The cross was laid upon the ground, and the Savior's torn and bloody back was pressed into the splinters of the rough-sawn wooden beams. His body was attached to the cross by driving six-inch spikes through His wrists and ankles. The pain that He was suffering would be multiplied as the cross was raised into place and His weight came crashing down upon the spikes that were driven through His body. Ashamed and naked, the Lamb of God was made a disgrace for all humanity.
The Roman soldiers began to scourge Jesus with great fury. His flesh became so ripped and torn that He could look upon His bones and internal organs.
His executioners were so cruel and ruthless that they even tore the beard from His face. The countless lashes from the soldier's whips mutilated and disfigured the face and body of Jesus. He received so many stripes that He could not be recognized as a human being.
Our Savior's blood pressure almost certainly begun to plummet as the blood drained from His multiple wounds. His heart most likely began to race and pound as it tried to supply oxygen to His body. All of Christ's bones had been dislocated from their joints and He was suffering from dehydration. His strength had been exhausted and Jesus was approaching death.
Alone and forsaken,
Jesus endured all the pain and punishment due mankind. He had been
abandoned by His countrymen, as a blasphemer
(Matt. 26:64-65). His fearful disciples had deserted Him and even
Peter denied knowing Him (Matt 26:70).
His own creation abhorred Him and
demonic world celebrated as they watched the execution
of God's Son.
While Jesus was being held captive to the cross, darkness covered the earth (Luke 23:44). His soul was being crushed by the tremendous weight of man's sins and guilt. The last ounces of His blood were flowing from His wounds. Heaven and earth had forsaken Him and He knew that the end was near. Jesus made one last gesture to insure that we could have full confidence, that He had consumed all of our sins. He said, "I thirst."
The significance of this act should not be overlooked, because it symbolizes Jesus taking the fullness of our sins into His body. It also fulfilled the prophetic symbols of the Old Testament Passover. Dr. Terasaka gives additional insight into the fulfillment of these symbols.
When Jesus had received the vinegar, He gathered His last ounce of strength, raised Himself upon the cross, gasped for one last breath of life and cried out, "IT IS FINISHED"!
The last words that Jesus spoke as a human being were, "It is finished". This phrase has been translated from the single Greek word "teleo." In English, the truest sense of the word can be understood by the phrase, "completely complete," as in the discharge of a debt. The spirit and body of Jesus had absorbed all the punishment due mankind. The sacrifice of Jesus was perfect and complete. Nothing more could be absorbed. Nothing more can be added.
The means for our eternal salvation and the healing of our physical bodies were finished in Christ. We are now free to exchange our curses for the blessings that were due Jesus, because of His sinless life of obedience. These blessings are now available to all those who will open their hearts and accept them in simple and unquestioning faith.
What a tremendous price Jesus paid in order for us to become the children of God and to receive physical healing for our sick and diseased bodies. Without doubt, the exchange has been made, the ultimate price has been paid and the victory is ours. The faithful Christian can rest assured that he is now reconciled to God, and made His child, according to His promises.