Would There Be Christianity Without Jesus’ Death?
Christians around the world commemorate the death anniversary of the Lord Jesus on a Friday every year, which is called Good Friday. How could any death be good news? We will see in this article that Jesus’ death brought good news to the world because he came into this world to suffer and die as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. We will also see that the Christian life is built on the foundation of the death and the resurrection of Christ Jesus. In other words, there would be no Christianity without the events of that first Good Friday. And so, we must not limit its remembrance to just one day of the year.
Let us take time to consider why Jesus’ death is central to the Christian faith:
1. The Only Solution To The Problem Of Sin
Although our first parents were created innocent, they violated God’s command. They sinned against God. Thus, sin and corruption entered their lives and through them our lives. We are all born with the same sinful nature. The Bible says that, “All have sinned and have come short of God’s standard” (Rom. 3:23). It means that every person born into this world is a sinner worthy of God’s judgement. According to Jesus, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person” (Mk. 7:20-23). Since they come from a sinful heart, even good works are not accepted by God. Instead, they are like filthy rags before Him. We must understand that God is holy. As a righteous judge, He cannot overlook any sin. His character demands that we receive the just punishment for sin, which is death. The Bible says that, “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). We all know that we will die physically one day. The Bible teaches that we will all have to face God’s judgement seat, after which all sinners will be cast into the lake of fire. Left to ourselves, we all have no hope. Nothing can cleanse our sinful nature and spare us from the punishment of God.
Is there a solution to this problem of sin which every human is faced with? Yes! God, in His wisdom, decreed a plan long ago to save us from our sin and to reconcile us to him—through the death of Jesus. The cross of our Lord is the only solution that God offers to us. At the cross of Jesus, God demonstrated His wisdom in a most unexpected way. God sent his Son to suffer and die for our sins on the cross.
Jesus Christ came to this earth in order to deal with sin by becoming one of us and to identify with the human race. He lived a righteous life. He perfectly obeyed God. Jesus was free from any sin and He alone was eligible to pay for our sin. Therefore, he took our place by bearing our sins upon himself to satisfy the justice of God. He suffered under the wrath of God against all humans to pay the penalty for our sin. God demonstrated His justice by punishing Christ Jesus for our sins and gave His grace by saving undeserving people.
2. The Foundation of the Christian Life
Not only are we saved by the death of our Lord Jesus, but we also need to remember and celebrate it every day. It is what the church needs for its ongoing life. Our Christian lives, faith, sanctification, fellowship with God, etc., are all dependent on the reality of Christ’s death. It is by believing in Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension that we now have the Holy Spirit. He enables us to grow in holiness and to enjoy fellowship with God and one another. So, it is vital that churches continue to preach the cross of Christ throughout the year for the building up of the church.
Sadly, too many churches are reluctant to keep the gospel central. To reach out to the people of this generation, churches are doing everything possible – heart-thumping music, motivational messages, and much more. They do not speak about sin, and on the other hand, promote easy believism. They say the gospel isn’t enough. As Paul Tripp says, “With what you win them, with that you have to keep them.” In other words, if you did not win people with the gospel, you did not win them to Christ. I remember attending a Christian youth convention, which even had a fashion parade in which women walked on the stage, showcasing some elegant clothing. Though nothing was obscene about it, the organisers had gone too far to attract people to Christ. Unfortunately, nothing else stayed with me after the convention. This illustrates why the message of the cross should be the centre of our faith. There is no Christianity apart from the truth of the death of Christ Jesus.
That is why Paul declares, “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). Paul’s singular focus was to help the Corinthians to know Christ and to grow in maturity in Christ. Salvation through the crucified Christ is the plan of the Triune God. Our life and ministry hang on this precious truth. All that we are, become, and do are tied to the death of Christ on the cross. The grace and power to live this new life comes from our Lord, who paid for our sins. Our life, ethics, joys, relationships, vocations, and in fact everything we do under the sun should be rooted in the death of Jesus. God intervenes in our lives because of the crucified Christ. We have access to the throne of grace because of our Saviour, the eternal High Priest, who intercedes for us.
The life of the church is intertwined with the crucified Saviour. Without the cross of Jesus Christ, there is no Christian life. The cross reminds us of who we are: sinners saved by grace. The cross reminds us what we need: the grace to persevere in this Christian life.
May God help us to stay close to the cross of Christ every day of our lives, not just on Good Friday.