What Exactly Jesus Did for Us

Mark 15:21-38
21 A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. 22 They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 23 Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.

25 It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. 26 The written notice of the charge against him read: THE KING OF THE JEWS. 27 They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. [no verse 28] 29 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 come down from the cross and save yourself!” 31 In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! 32 Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

33 At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). 35 When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.” 36 Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.

37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. 38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.

What The Crucifixion Meant for Us

Most people–even some Christians–do not often think about what exactly the Crucifixion and the death of Jesus did for us. While this passage is stark and disturbing, it was a necessary part of salvation.

Jesus as the Final, Everlasting Sin Offering

For centuries, the Hebrews had been following Mosaic Law, the Law taken down by Moses which was God’s will for his people, and that Law included almost daily offerings of animals and produce to be presented to God as thanks and as atonement for sin in their lives.

But when Jesus was crucified, He took on the sins of humanity, all the pain and rage and death and lost-ness, and offered His life as a final, everlasting sin offering to reconcile God and His people. Jesus’ sacrifice made sin offerings unnecessary for salvation–instead, belief in Jesus as Savior was now the path to salvation.

Jesus as Bridge Between God and Humanity

There had also been a distinct separation between God and His people before Jesus came–God could only be spoken to through the aid of priests (descending from Aaron, Moses’ brother), and He existed among His people in the Holy of Holies, a special place designated within the temple to hold the Ark of the Covenant. No human was supposed to intrude in this space, and it was usually sectioned off with curtains.

But when Jesus died on the cross, Mark notes that in the temple, the curtain separating the Holy of Holies from the rest of the space was torn asunder. This symbolized that God was now open and willing to hear from His people directly. No longer did they have to talk to someone else on earth to get a message to God–they could “instant-message” Him whenever and however they wanted to, just by praying.

Very Few People Understood This at the Time

The purpose of Jesus’ crucifixion, death, and later resurrection was misunderstood even at the moment it happened, however. The people who crucified Him did not believe His claims of being the Son of God, reasoning that if Jesus was indeed the Son of God, then He would not let Himself be crucified–He could just come on down whenever He wanted. They did not understand how lost they were, what Jesus’ death would mean for them, and what God’s plan for the whole world was. They were so confused that they even thought Jesus was crying out for Elijah at the end, and waited to see if Elijah would indeed come to take Jesus away. They did not understand that Jesus was crying out to God, feeling separated from God by the weight of all the sin He was taking on, and they certainly didn’t imagine that this was a temporary situation.

What This Means for Us

Jesus performed a massive act of forgiveness and selflessness, a gift meant for each of us, ready for us to accept. He took on all the sin that would have normally doomed us to never hear from God again, and took it to the grave with him, effectively deleting it from our lives. (He returned from the grave, however, unlike our sins.)

This is what makes Jesus such a powerful figure in the lives of all Christians–to think that a loving God would do something so drastic, just to have contact with us again, is awe-inspiring. Our sin was something God knew He couldn’t stand, but He didn’t need all the sacrifices and sin offerings anymore. He wanted an uncluttered relationship with each of us, and through Jesus’ sacrifice, we can each have that.

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