Death was the penalty for the breach of the first covenant in the Garden of Eden, Gen 2:17c, “You shall surely die.”
Yet, eternal Life is the blessing for obedience to the new covenant won at the Cross of Jesus Christ, 1 Cor 11:25, “He took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood.”
The Mediator of the new covenant had to make atonement for our sins by means of His own death, in order to bring about the blessings of eternal life. Otherwise there would be no remission of the penalty of the first covenant, Heb 9:15.
Heb 9:11, “But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; 12and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, 14how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant (Garden of Eden), those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. 16For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. 17For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives. 18Therefore even the first covenant was not inaugurated without blood.”
Jesus clothed Adam and the woman with skins from a sacrificed lamb, Gen 3:21, to demonstrate what He would eventually do for them and the entire world upon the Cross.
Therefore, Jesus made His soul an offering for our sin, which was completed upon the Cross when He said in John 19:30, “Tetelestai,” (in the Perfect, Passive, Indicative), that means, “it is finished with the results that go on”, and He voluntarily gave up His spirit into the hands of God the Father, Psa 31:5; Luke 23:46. “into Your hands I commit My spirit.”
1. Jesus’ Agony Provided for Our Bliss.
Just prior to and upon the Cross we see Jesus’ Agony which provided for our access into eternal life. This agony began in another garden, The Garden of Gethsemane.
Mat 26:36, “Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”
Mat 26:38, “Then He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me”.”
We can never fully comprehend Christ’s agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, but at least we do not have to misunderstand it. It is the agony of God and man in one Person, Jesus Christ in hypostatic union, who came face to face with sin.
Our own personal experiences do not teach us about Gethsemane, only by knowing God’s Word do we begin to comprehend it. Nevertheless, both Gethsemane and the Cross at Calvary represent something totally unique. They are the gateway into life for us.
Jesus came to earth with the purpose of dying on the Cross for the payment of the penalty of our sins. What concerned Him most in Gethsemane was that He might not get through the struggle as the Son of Man. As the Son of God it was no problem for Him, Satan could not touch Him there, but as the Son of Man Satan could assault Him relentlessly.
Heb 4:15, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”
In Gethsemane, Satan came back to tempt Jesus, as he did in Luke 4 in the wilderness, trying to cause our Lord to fail in His mission to fulfill the Father’s Plan for our salvation. The agony in Gethsemane was the agony of the Son of God to fulfill His destiny as the Son of Man in order to become the Savior of the world. In the Garden the veil was pulled back so that we could see what it cost Him to make it possible for you and I to become sons of God.
But just as before, Satan was once again overthrown by the physical and mental fortitude of the person of Jesus Christ being filled with God’s Word and the Holy Spirit. He overcame Satan by the combination of those two powers; the Word of God and His Spirit!
As a result, the Cross of Jesus Christ was a triumph for the Son of Man. It was not only a sign that our Lord had triumphed, but that He had saved the human race. Because of what the Son of Man went through, every member of the human race has been provided with a way of access into the very presence of God, 1 Cor 15:52.
1 Cor 15:52, “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
2. The Collision of God and Sin at the Cross.
1 Peter 2:24, “And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.”
2 Cor 5: 21, “He (God the Father) made Him (Jesus Christ) who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
Col 1:19, “For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.”
The Cross of Christ is the revealed truth of God’s judgment on sin. The Cross was not a place of martyrdom for Jesus; it was the supreme triumph that destroyed the very foundations of sin, death and hell.
There is nothing in time or eternity more absolutely certain and irrefutable than what Jesus Christ accomplished on the Cross. He made it possible for the entire human race to be brought back into a right-standing relationship with God.
As such, Jesus made redemption the foundation of human life. That is, He made a way for every person to have fellowship with God.
The Cross was His purpose in coming. He is “the sacrificial Lamb slain from the foundation of the world”, Rev 13:8 (KJV).
The purpose of Jesus’ incarnation was redemption. God came in the flesh to take away the sins of the world, not to accomplish something for Himself. The Cross is the central event in time and eternity, and the answer to all the problems of both.
The incarnation of Christ would have no meaning without the Cross. That is why we should never separate 1 Tim 3:16, “He who was revealed in the flesh”, from 2 Cor 5:21, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
The Cross of Jesus Christ is the gate through which any and every individual can enter into oneness with God.
John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”
But it is not a gate we pass right through; it is one where we abide in the life that is found there.
The heart of salvation is the Cross of Christ. The reason salvation is so easy to obtain is that it cost God so much.
The Cross was the place where God and sinful man merged in the body of Jesus Christ, with a tremendous collision and where the way to life was opened. But all the cost and pain of the collision was absorbed by the heart of God, and in it He exhibited His nature.
1 Tim 3:16, sums up what Christ did, “By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, was vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.”
Which leads us to our final point…
3. Jesus’ Resurrection Destiny.
Luke 24:26, “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?”
Our Lord’s Cross is the gateway into His life, and His resurrection is the power to convey His life to us.
1 Cor 6:14, “Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power.”
Phil 3:8, “More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, … 9and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, 10that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection….”
When we are born again, we receive the very life of the risen Lord. Jesus’ foreordained purpose, His resurrection destiny, was to bring “many sons to glory”, Heb 2:10. The fulfilling of His destiny gives Him the right to make us sons and daughters of God.
It is at the very moment of our salvation that we are brought by the Son into a relation of son-ship with God the Father.
When our Lord rose from the dead, He rose to an absolutely new life, a life He had never lived before. He rose to a life that had never been before. And what His resurrection means for us is that we too are raised to that same unique risen life, not to our old life.
One day we will have a body like His glorious body, but we can know here and now the power and effectiveness of His resurrection, Rom 6:4-7.
Rom 6:4, “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7for he who has died is freed from sin.”
As we noted above, Paul’s determined purpose was to “know Him and the power of His resurrection”, Phil 3:10, which should be our purpose as well.
Jesus prayed in John 17:2, “Even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life.” He was speaking about the power God the Father vested in Him to give eternal life to all who would believe in Him.
And with that life we can know God, John 17:3, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”
Here on earth we know God through His Word by means of the Holy Spirit. Yet, one day we will be personally with God in our own resurrection form and have an unending intimate relationship with Him.
1 Cor 15:42-44, “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; 43it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.”
1 Cor 15:52, “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
This is made possible because Jesus, as the mediator between God and Man, fulfilled the Father’s Plan for our salvation by going to the Cross and paying the penalty for our sins. After paying the price for our sins He died upon the Cross, was buried, and three days later resurrected to eternal glory.
It is through the person of Jesus Christ and His work upon the Cross that we have eternal life, and will one day be raised to eternal glory.