For years so-called "theologians" have declared that Jesus did not die on the cross. In fact, despite biblical and extra-biblical evidence, there are those who claim that He didn't even exist.
If Jesus didn't exist, if He didn't die and rise again, we have no hope of salvation.
Hebrews 10:10 says, "We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."
"All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," (Romans 3:23).
We need a savior—and Jesus is that Savior.
If this was not true, our faith is without a foundation and worthless, we're false witnesses, we're still dead in our sins, and we're to be pitied. If Jesus isn't who the Scriptures say He is, if He didn't do what the Bible says He did, there is no atonement for sin, no forgiveness, no good news, no salvation! Without the cross, Jesus is not the Messiah, and we have no hope.
But Jesus did die on the cross. And He really did rise from the dead. This isn't just good news. This is the greatest news anyone could ever hear!
Those who were crucified could not be left on the cross overnight. Otherwise, the people of Israel would become ceremonially unclean according to Old Testament law. Because of this, they requested that Pilate have the legs of those who were crucified broken to ensure they died in time to take them down before nightfall.
The soldiers approached the top of Golgotha. They broke the legs of the criminals on either side of Jesus and then approached Him.
John 19:33 says, "But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs."
The soldiers would not have risked disobeying the order to break His legs unless they were 100 percent certain He was, indeed, already dead. Otherwise, they could have been beaten, flogged, even killed.
Though they did not break Jesus's legs, verse 34 says, "But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water."
There are two reasons the soldiers pierced His side. First, they wanted to be sure that Jesus was dead. Second, if anyone questioned why Jesus' legs weren't broken, they could point to the wound as proof they checked to see if He was, in fact, dead.
These men had seen enough death by crucifixion that they knew, when blood and water gushed out, Jesus had experienced what we call hypovolemic shock. When the body goes through so much trauma, blood pools in the sack around the lungs and heart. Jesus died on that cruel cross.
Why exactly did John include the details about blood and water? There are several theories, but I believe John was referring to Zechariah 12:10, which says, "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn."
And five verses later, in Zechariah 13:1, we read, "On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness."
John wants us to see that Jesus not only fulfilled the prophecy when He was pierced but also atonement for sin and eternal life flowed from Him. His blood cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7), and because of this, we can now have eternal life through Him.
After Jesus died, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus requested His body and they "bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews," (v. 40).
Had there been any evidence that Jesus was alive, they wouldn't have prepared Him for burial. They would have taken Him into hiding and tried to find someone who could help Him recover. Instead, they continued with the process, then lay Jesus in the tomb, and rolled a large stone in front.
Jesus died—and that satisfied the sin debt of all those who would believe down through the millennia.
Jesus's words, "It is finished," (John 19:30) indicate no further price needed to be paid.
As believers, we tend to think, "I know all this. These are the basics of the Christian faith." But, as I said, the gospel is the best news, the most amazing news, we will ever hear.
Why did John include the details he did?
John 20:31 says, "... so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name."
Is the life believers have in Jesus's name an easy life, free from troubles and trials? I'm sure you already know the answer to that question.
While the Savior's sacrifice was sufficient and our sin debt is paid in full, it doesn't mean we'll have smooth sailing this side of heaven. It doesn't mean we don't have a part to play.
God sovereignly saved us. He did the work in our hearts and minds when we were dead in our sin, with no desire—or ability—to turn to Him. Because of His mercy, grace, and love, He does what we could never do. But coming to saving faith doesn't mean we can sit back and relax, waiting for Him to call us home to heaven.
In John 15:14, Jesus says, "You are my friends if you do what I command you."
The good news is that He gives us the desire and the ability to walk in obedience. As believers, we are no longer slaves to sin, but we are slaves to Christ. He bought us with His blood. Our lives belong to Him. We are to be obedient to His Word. We are to display His love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness to the world.
This is impossible to do in our own strength. We need only look at historical accounts—or a 21st century online news service—to see that those who take a stand for their Christian faith have been, and continue to be, persecuted.
If pastors and other church leaders don't proclaim the truth of God's Word, if they don't call believers to learn the Scriptures and walk in obedience, we won't be ready to stand up to persecution.
Plus, those who aren't genuine believers won't recognize that increasing obedience to God's commands is evidence of saving faith.
To acknowledge that Jesus is "the way, and the truth, and the life," (John 14:6), may cost us friends, family members, our job. It may eventually cost us our freedom and maybe even our life. But the cost of not doing so is infinitely greater.
Jesus says, in Matthew 10:32-33, "So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven."
We have choices to make every day. Will we pursue what the world has to offer or will we pursue an ever-deepening relationship with the Lord? Will we seek to protect ourselves from rejection, disdain, and persecution or will we walk in obedience to God's Word and gladly pay the price—because of the price Jesus paid for us?