‘Jesus died for our sins’what do we mean? A comprehensive look at the death of Jesus and what it means for us. By Fr. Bosco Gali
Two great celebrations for us? • There are two great celebrations for us Christians: • 1. Christmas • 2. Easter • Our whole liturgical years revolves around them • But in between these two, just before Easter is the good Friday. The day of his death.
On Good Friday: • We venerate the cross • We meditate on his passion and suffering and death • We do make a collection for the Holy Land where Jesus suffered, • But………………. • We seldom take time to reflect on the death of Jesus.
Death of the Messiah! • We often take it for granted • That Jesus died for our sins • He ransomed us from death • He atoned for our sins • We are purchased by the blood the of the lamb and so on and so forth • But if I ask you, • To whom did he pay the ransom? • From who did he purchase us?
We got no answers People down the ages struggled to understand the death of the Messiah It has been my struggle too……. How to understand the death of Christ? What do we mean when we say Jesus died for our sins? How does the death of Christ forgive my sins?
Outline of the talk • First we will see what the Scriptures say about the death of Christ • The old testament prophecies about the death of the Messiah • Jesus’ own predictions about his death and its purpose • Apostles interpretation of death of Christ, in their initial kerygma • Death of Christ as understood by Paul and Letter to Hebrews
Based on the scripture, different interpretations and theories of the purpose of the death of Christ Starting from first century to present day We also examine the veracity of each theory And come to our own conclusion of how to understand and interpret the death of Christ.
Death of the Messiah in Old Testament • Even though there are many quotations used from Old testament • By the evangelists when they were describing about the passion of Christ, especially from psalms, Jeremiah, Micah and Zachariah etc. • One prophet who clearly prophesies about the suffering and death of the messiah is prophet Isaiah
The Suffering and Death of the Messiah in Is 50-53 • Isaiah chapters 50 through 53 refer to Jesus Christ as what has been called • “the Suffering Messiah” • or “the Suffering Servant.” • Indeed those four chapters are filled with references to the mistreatment and horrible death of Jesus Christ on a cross of wood.
What is most amazing about this portion of Isaiah's book is the details concerning the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ — details we can easily read of in the Gospels, all four of which give glimpses into the death of the Lord. From a purely human and physical standpoint, it is a brutal picture.
Isaiah 50:6 tells the account of a Messiah who would be brutally — yet willingly — beaten about the face and back, mocked and humiliated, have his beard pulled out, and spit upon: “I offered my back to those who beat me and my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard. I did not hide my face from mockery and spitting.”
Later, in chapter 52, Isaiah records that the physical abuse and beating of the Messiah would be so severe that,“many were amazed when they saw him. His face was so disfigured he seemed hardly human, and from his appearance, one would scarcely know he was a man” (52:14).
Isaiah tells us that all these things would happen to the Messiah despite the fact that he was innocent of any crime (Isaiah 53:9), despite the fact that he said nothing to his accusers (53:7). He would suffer great sorrow and grief (53:3), would be oppressed and afflicted (53:7), and would be thought of as cursed by God (53:4).
But all of these things didn't happen to the Messiah Jesus Christ for nothing. • Isaiah explains that these things happened • so that each and every one of us who put our faith in him can be healed, saved, and forgiven: • “it was the Lord's good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants” (Isaiah 53:10).
Jesus on his death • Jesus was well aware that he was going to die • And he often predicted about his suffering and death and of course his rising on the third day • But with regard to the purpose of his death • He says, "The son of man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45 = Matt 20:28)
This saying in Mark 10:45b intertextually evokes the Hebrew text of Isa 52:13-53:12, by which Jesus is interpreting his death as the death of the Isaian servant. By citing a Servant text as predictive of his execution, doubtless, Jesus intends that his hearers draw further parallels between himself and the Servant, especially in Isa 53:10-12; in particular, they are to understand that Jesus' death as an asham for the many
Secondly, At his last Passover meal, Jesus pronounces the blessing over the bread, breaks it, distributes it and unexpectedly interprets it with reference to his own body: "This is my body (given) for you." To interpret foods eaten at Passover was not unusual; Jesus would have done something similar during the recitation of the Passover haggadah. But after the blessing of the bread and its distribution, normally nothing would be said of an interpretive nature.
Jesus’ departure from procedure would have made an impression on those present. The term to sômamou (‘my body’) is probably the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew/Aramaic gwpy ("my body") meaning "myself."’ Jesus’ statement could be paraphrased as follows: "This bread represents the giving of myself in death for your benefit
." Jesus takes advantage of a place in the meal when he, as the paterfamilias, would have the attention of all those present for the meal, during the blessing said in common over the bread. Moreover, Jesus chooses the broken bread with which to compare himself, because it offers an appropriate metaphor for what is about to happen to him. The tertiumcomparationis is the fact that the bread is broken, i.e. destroyed, as his physical self is about to be.
Jesus' word over the bread situated at the beginning of the main course and his word over the cup situated at the completion of the main course are a climactic parallelism. The word over the bread establishes that Jesus, as the eschatological paschal sacrifice, will die a expiatory death for the benefit of his disciples.
The word over the cup builds upon this proposition, adding that this expiatory death will be the means by which the Jeremian new covenant will be realized (see New Covenant). Each member of the parallelism is understandable in itself, but the second member furthers the meaning of the first.
Death of Christ in Acts • After the Ascension and Pentecost, when the disciples went out to preach • They did refer to the death of Christ as sacrifice or expiation, • But their main proclamation was that he was risen • Death cannot hold him • Those who were responsible for his death are called for repentance
St. Paul on death of Christ. • It was St. Paul who began to reflect on the death of Christ and its purpose in his epistles • For Paul, Christ’s death was many things – • an example to be followed, • a ransom price, • a sin offering, • a pass-over sacrifice, • and an atoning sacrifice
Death of Christ is securing the deliverance of trangressors from deadlier bondage of sin (Cf. 1 cor 6:20; 7:23; Eph 1:7; 2:13; Rom 3:24-25
Hebrews • 2:9 But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honour because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. • In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered.
Hebrews 10: 11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. 14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
Questions that arose from these? • Why couldn’t God just forgive us without the cross? • Why did Jesus have to die, could there be another way? • What effect does the crucifixion have on us/God? • Why did there have to be so much suffering/brutality? • Why is there no forgiveness without the shedding of blood?
Hebrews 9:22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. Was atonement necessary because God was angry? Did God redirect this anger to Jesus? Are our sins paid for?
Are our sins forgiven? Was God willing to forgive before the Atonement? What exactly about the blood is so “precious”?
Atonement theories • To answer these different atonement theories were proposed by theologians • And we are going to see few of those
The Ransom Theory • In Mark 10:45 Jesus says that he came to give his life "as a ransom for many." • The idea that he died in order to pay a ransom is the basis for the Ransom Theory.
This is one of the oldest atonement theories, and during the first thousand years of Christianity, it was the most common explanation for why Jesus had to suffer and die. The early Christian scholar Origen gave one of the first detailed descriptions of this theory. He said that the disobedience of Adam and Eve caused God to abandon humankind to the Devil, who then exerted his power over us.
Later, when God decided to reconcile with us, he agreed to pay Satan a ransom for our release. The agreed-upon payment was Jesus' death on the cross. After the crucifixion, Satan kept his part of the bargain by releasing us from his power. But then God pulled a trick on him by resurrecting Jesus.
Some later writers argued that God's trickery was justified because the Devil himself is so dishonest. Others said that Satan should have known not to ask for Jesus' death in the first place, and therefore got just what he deserved.
The Ransom Theory is also called the Bargain Theory and the Classical Theory. It was the primary atonement theory for more than a thousand years, from the first century to the eleventh century, and is still accepted by some Christians.
The Satisfaction Theory • The eleventh-century scholar Saint Anselm didn't like the Ransom Theory. • He believed that an outlaw like the Devil had no right to exert power over humankind, • and therefore God didn't need to pay him anything for our release.
To replace the Ransom Theory, Anselm put forward another explanation known as the Satisfaction Theory (or Debt Theory).
According to this theory, humankind owes a debt to God because we dishonoured him through our disobedience and sin. But his pride ( means status), as well as the need for universal justice, prevents him from simply forgiving us.
To resolve the matter, Jesus volunteered to pay our debt for us by suffering and dying on the cross. God accepted this act of love as a full atonement, and thus satisfied, he then forgave us and offered us salvation.
Criticism • Some people still wonder why God didn't just forgive us outright. • Another criticism of this theory is that it puts Jesus in the role of a sacrificial lamb. • In ancient times lambs and other animals were often sacrificed to pagan gods as a way to appease them.
It was thought that the death of an animal could serve as a substitute payment for a person's sins. Similarly, in the Satisfaction Theory, the suffering and death of Jesus serves as a substitute payment for humankind's sins.
The Moral Exemplar Theory • According to this theory, • Jesus tried to help us obtain salvation by giving us a perfect moral example of how to live. • He hoped that his teachings and his example would inspire us to lift ourselves out of sin and enter into true communion with God.
This theory, which is also called the Moral Influence Theory, it is usually attributed to the medieval scholar Peter Abelard. (Peter Abelard (1079–21 April 1142) [‘Abailard’ or ‘Abaelard’ or ‘Habalaarz’ and so on] was the pre-eminent philosopher and theologian of the twelfth century.)
Many Christians have found it attractive and helpful. But some people wonder how it explains the crucifixion, since Jesus could have given us his teachings, and also provided a perfect moral example, without dying on the cross.
One possible answer is that his death, though not strictly necessary, helped to draw attention to his life and therefore made his mission more effective. Critics say: Unfortunately, many people continue to ignore the example that Jesus set, and still commit immoral acts. Thus, if the purpose of his mission was to inspire everyone to live without sin, so far it hasn't been fully successful.
The Penal-Substitution Theory • The basic idea of this theory is that Jesus suffered and died to take upon himself the punishment that we ourselves deserve. • Although God wasn't willing to forgive us outright, he was willing to accept the punishment of Jesus as a substitute for our own punishment. • Thus, in this theory Jesus takes the role of an innocent scapegoat who is punished for the sins of others.
On one occasion God punished humankind by sending a flood that killed everyone on the earth except a few people on Noah's boat. But according to the Penal-Substitution theory, when humankind later needed to be punished again, God allowed Jesus to take the punishment for us.
Some of the underlying assumptions of this theory can be found in the letters of Saint Paul. The Protestant Reformers of the sixteenth century took those assumptions and developed them into the modern form of the theory. In some ways it resembles the Satisfaction Theory, since Jesus' act of taking our punishment for us is basically equivalent to paying our debt for us.
The Penal-Substitution Theory is accepted by many modern Protestants. Most of them also believe that Jesus' sacrifice brought the possibility of forgiveness to everyone, including people who have lived since the crucifixion and people who will be born in the future. This is known as universal atonement.
But some Christians believe that Jesus died only for the "elect", a small minority who are predestined to be saved. This is called definite (or limited) atonement.