How Can Jesus' Death Possibly Apply To People Today?

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Yes, I know where this question is coming from. If Jesus died around two thousand years ago, just how could his death have any relevance or meaning for people today, even to the point of influencing, or changing their lives - it seems way too remote, far too mystical to be of use to people today, I just don't get it?

• PERPLEXITY
This is where a little biblical background helps so much. There are indeed large claims made both by Jesus and about him which shed light on the perplexity behind this big question. The first thing to note is with Jesus' coming into the world, a huge change takes place. It is the time of new beginnings, the time when large numbers of God-given prophecies in the Old Testament Scriptures come together in startling fulfilment. Now, a whole new era begins in the way God would advance his own purpose for his world. For now, the Christ or Messiah, for whose appearing countless people had fervently longed, came in person.

• PREPARED
Even in Jesus' early infancy, a man called Simeon was led by the Holy Spirit of God to see that here was no ordinary infant. So astonished, so overjoyed, in fact, was Simeon, who perhaps had waited many years for this moment, that he took the child in his arms and exclaimed, 'Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel' (Luke 2:29-32).

What wonderful insight that elderly man was given, to see in the infant Jesus the One sent by God who would be the Saviour, not only of Israel, God's ancient covenant people, but even the Gentiles, those in the grip of dark, degrading religious beliefs and practices. Jesus would be the one divinely appointed deliverer who would rescue people from the grip and tyranny of sin and its awful guilt that lay heavy on many a conscience in the ancient world.

• PROCLAIMED
So, when Jesus came into Galilee at the start of his public ministry he proclaimed, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe in the gospel' (Mark 1:15). He taught large numbers of people and performed many signs confirming his divine power and identity as the Christ and eternal Son of God. When people appeared complacent about their acceptance with God, Jesus reminded them that those upon whom a large stone tower had collapsed killing many, were no worse than anyone else, and that his hearers should repent, or 'all likewise perish' (Luke 13:5). He even made it plain that he would be crucified, when he explained how he would be given 'over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day' (Matthew 20:19).

So, what is all this got to do with Jesus' death being relevant to people today? He would deal with the great barrier of sin once by his death. For all of us have sinned, we have all broken God's perfect standard of obedience to his law, which leaves us guilty, exposed to eternal condemnation and banishment. The wonder is that Jesus willingly went to death on the cross to fulfil all that the old system of sacrifice had pointed to - peace with God. He did that once for all by his death. Now, because of Jesus' death all who turn from their own ways, and accept and trust that it was done for them, 'have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace' (Ephesians 1:7). Jesus' death had a final and definite goal that never needs any addition.

• POWERFULLY
The public proclamation of his death continues to stand as a beacon for all the world to hear, until he comes again, 'For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God' (1 Peter 3:18). In those words we see that Jesus' death, in undeserved grace, suffered justly by taking the ultimate penalty upon himself that was due to moral rebels like us. By his death he powerfully effected that desperately needed reconciliation with God for all who wholeheartedly embrace the wonderful good news of what Jesus accomplished for others.

That, in a nutshell, is how Jesus' death is still relevant today. Not as a mere moral influence or example. No, far more, for with his death no other sacrifice for sin is necessary, since his is totally sufficient. And as he rose from death to an endless life, today he alone is the one Saviour able to save now and forever all those who come to God through him, 'For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus' (1 Timothy 2:5).

Those words emphasising Jesus' humanity show that he was a true representative and substitute for people like ourselves, but remember, he is both God and man, he has two natures in one person. He is also, 'our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ' (Titus 2:13).

No one else has died for us moral rebels to bring us to God. Jesus Christ alone is worthy of your full trust and confidence today.