THE Mystery In The Death Of Our Lord

In The Death Of Our Lord

By Alan H. Crosby

A mystery scripturally is something that was concealed but is now revealed. It was not at all clear to the Old Testament saints that the Messiah, the Christ, would be the Eternal Son of God become Man, and that He would be condemned to death, crucified and resurrected for our salvation. This truth was revealed to the Lord’s disciples when “beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Lk. 24:27 ESV). What was a mystery before His resurrection is now clearly revealed to us in the New Testament Scriptures.

He Was The True Prophet
We must not disregard the fact that our Lord Jesus was indeed “a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people” (v.19). He prophesied that He had to go to Jerusalem … be killed, and on the third day be raised” (Mt. 16:21). According to Mark, the Lord taught that He, “the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected of the elders and of the chief priests and of the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And He spoke the thing openly” (8:31-32 JND, italics added).

Was the Lord a false prophet? Certainly not! But, He would have been if He were not killed, for that is what He prophesied. He also truthfully said, “I lay down My life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again” (Jn. 10:17-18 ESV).

Both of these seemingly contradictory statements are true – He was killed, and He let go of His life voluntarily. The physical and spiritual things He endured on the cross were enough to kill Him if He were only a human being, but they could not have killed Him if He, being God the Son, had not allowed them to do so.

He Had A Human Body And He Was God
He was a perfect human being, with all the consequence of having a human spirit, soul and body. He became hungry (Mt. 4:2). He became thirsty (Jn. 19:28). He became sleepy, and He slept (Mk. 4:38). These were the natural results of lack of food, drink and sleep. The prophet Isaiah, speaking of the Lord as a man, foretold in Isaiah 53 that His body would be wounded, bruised and cut up by stripes during the scourging and the crucifixion (Compare to Mt. 27:26-50).

However, the Lord was also the Creator (Col. 1:16), and thus He had the divine power to remedy any injuries to His body or to prevent them from ever occurring. We see this power being used to prevent the ordinary decomposing of His dead, human body. Regarding this, David prophesied, “For You will not … let Your Holy One see corruption (Ps. 16:10), and Peter said, “… nor [has] His flesh seen corruption” (Acts 2:31 JND).

He Lay Down His Life
Using all their ingenuity, men devised crucifixion to cause a certain, slow and painful death. However, our Lord had the power to nullify all that would ordinarily cause death until He chose to die. Thus His death was entirely voluntary – but it was not suicide.

God had justly decreed that the penalty for sin would be death. Therefore, everyone faces death, “for all have sinned” (Rom. 3:23). But, because of His love for men, women and children, and by His grace, God willed that the Son “might taste death for everyone” (Heb. 2:9 ESV). Then, as prophesied by Isaiah (lsa. 53:6 JND), “Jehovah … laid upon Him the iniquity of us all”!

Our Lord allowed what men did to His body and what God did to His soul-spirit, in bearing our iniquity, to cause His death. Matthew wrote that at the time of His death, He “yielded up His spirit” (27:50 ESV, italics added), and John said, “He gave up His spirit” (19:30). By not retaining His human spirit, He died, for “the body apart from the spirit is dead” (Jas. 2:26). He had the power to retain His spirit, but He chose not to use that power. In short, He laid down His life!

Why Did He Choose To Die?
He chose to die, Scripture says, “for the joy that was set before Him [when He] endured the cross” (Heb. 12:2). Strange as it may seem, somehow the result of the physical suffering of crucifixion and the spiritual suffering of being separated from God resulted in joy for Him. There is no joy in the God-head in justly condemning unrepentant sinners, but “there is joy in heaven … over one sinner who repents” (Lk. 15:10). Our Lord had chosen to be “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29) – and He takes away all the sin of all who will repent!

An explanation for this mystery may be found in the fact that He has a very special relationship with the believers of this dispensation, or period of time. Figuratively, we are like a wife to Him; we are His body, and He loves us. Scripture says, “Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her … so that He might present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing … because we are members of His body” (Eph. 5:25-30).

What Should Be Our Response?
Like Paul, we should tell Jews and Gentiles “that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance” (Acts 26:20). This includes partaking, properly and with understanding, of the bread and wine “in remembrance” of Him in the manner which He instituted for us (Lk. 22:19-20).