Title: The Work of the Cross in Us
I want to take an in-depth look at the significance of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. But first, let me answer an important question that arises at this time of the year. Who is responsible for the death of Jesus?
The LORD God himself, because he foreordained it.
Jesus himself, for he says, no one takes my life, I give it up.
The corrupt political and religious leaders, both Roman and Jewish. It was a collaboration of conspirators among the wealthy and influential; they all bore responsibility.
Here is a profound thought. God used their evil actions for the good.
For the death of his Son to be the efficacious sacrifice he intended, it had to occur in Jerusalem. And not just on any day of the year, it had to be at Passover. And not just at the hands of any men, but it had to be at the hands of Jewish priests. For they alone were qualified to offer up sacrifices acceptable to the God of Israel.
There is a fourth group responsible for the death of Jesus. This group bears responsibility, but they also bear the guilt. Who are they? It is you, and it is me. I stand before you today, guilty of killing Jesus, the Lamb of God. For the guilt of our sins and iniquities, he bore a cross on which he suffered and died.
Have you ever pondered this classic text from the first-person perspective? Reading it this way is a powerful exercise.
Surely he has borne my grief
and carried my sorrow;
yet I esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for my transgressions;
he was crushed for my iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought me peace,
and with his wounds, I am healed.
Like a sheep, I have gone astray;
I have turned to my own way;
and the LORD has laid on him my iniquity.
- Isaiah 53:4-6
The earliest witness of the church was that Messiah—our Passover lamb—has been sacrificed, a sacrifice that is atoning in nature. As we dig deeper into the implications for you and me, keep the following three things in mind. The sacrifice of Jesus was destined, it was deliberate, and it was decisive.
It was destined from the foundations of the earth. Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, proclaims that Jesus was delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of the Holy One (Acts 2:23).
It was deliberate as God, who did not spare his own Son, gave him up for us all (Romans 8:32). The Greek word is a legal term denoting deliberate action. The Father handed his Son over for punishment.
It was decisive for all because it dealt with the power of sin and our alienation from God. His death was not accidental, it was intentional. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor 5:21).
If the problem had just been our ignorance, then all we needed was an educator, someone to show us how to live in such a way as to overcome sin. But the Bible says the issue is more than sin and ignorance. The issue is alienation. We need more than an educator and a mentor. We need a savior. We need Jesus.
One of the most threatening heresies of the church in the fourth century was called Arianism. In this view, Jesus was seen as a very high and exalted creature of God who showed us how to rise up in our own potential. If we imitate him, if we live like him, we too will become like him.
But the Bible says there is more involved than just a lack of knowledge and understanding. There is a power at work in the world. That power is sin.
That power was at work in Adam, the first humans. And it is a power that has to be dealt with decisively once and for all. The only way to deal with the power of sin is to destroy it. The only way that sins ultimately can be remitted so there can be forgiveness is in the shedding of blood.
It takes death, not education, to be free. I am a Bible teacher and in no way desire to diminish education. I am teaching that the Word of God exalts the destined, deliberate, and decisive act of Jesus. And that his death, burial, and resurrection are meant to be destined, deliberate, and decisive in our lives as well! Can I get a witness?
The work done for us at the cross is meant to be a work done in us.
I am using the cross as a shorthand term, just as Paul and the early church used it. It is their way of describing the breadth and length, the height and depth of what God did through Jesus on our behalf. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6).
I want to say this to you again, and I want it to sink into your spirit. The work that was done for us at the cross is also meant by God to be a work done in us. Yeshua's was a sacrifice done once and for all. When you accept his sacrifice, the work of the cross in you is to be an ongoing work. It is a process in which, again and again, you identify with his death so that you can be raised up in the power of his resurrection.
For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation (Romans 5:10-11).
What does it mean to be reconciled, to walk in the power of his resurrection? That is what I want to explore with you in this study.
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This study is from a professionally produced transcription of the audio recording. It was edited for readability by the team at JC Studies.
Dwight A. Pryor (1945-2011) was a gifted Bible teacher of exceptional clarity and depth who earned the friendship and admiration of both Christian and Jewish scholars—in the United States and Israel—as well as the respect and appreciation of followers of Jesus around the world. His expertise in the language, literature, and culture of Israel during the life and time of Jesus and the early church yield insights that nourish every area of faith and practice.
Dwight founded JC Studies in 1984 to edify the people of God. Click here to explore over fifty of his audio and video seminars.