Have you ever thought about this subject? Maybe you know exactly why this happened. Something that interested me this morning while thinking on this subject was that the disciples always taught Jesus, and Him as the crucified one.
This had me thinking that maybe there are people out there that do not know what everything means to us as Christians. Why did it have to happen? What did God intend to achieve with this?
I want to start with what Jesus proclaimed while walking on the earth. Mark 14:58; “We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.” You might even wonder why I quote this part of scripture, as it does not seem to have any relationship to His death. We might know that it sort of points to the fact that Jesus had to die, but it does not give us a clear reason for the question at hand.
The second scripture I want to quote is from Luke 12:50; “But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!” It is quite interesting to note that Jesus uses the word baptism, as baptism is always associated with water, and not death. Jesus uses this word specifically as He wants to tell us that it is a process He has to go through, but also wants to inform us what our baptism should mean to us..
Let us start with the first quote, the temple.
The temple as it existed in the time of Jesus, was built by the people who returned from exile in Babylon. That is why the people were surprised by what Jesus said, as this temple took forty-six years to build after they returned from captivity. They could not work out how Jesus could destroy the old temple and build a new one in just three days. King Solomon built the temple that existed before this one. The history of this temple is portrayed in 1 Kings 6, 7 and 8. Before this temple was built, Israel used the tabernacle of Moses, who received the instructions regarding the layout and function of the tabernacle from God himself.
Exodus 25 verse 8 and 9 gives us some history: “And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. 9 According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.”
Why did Moses have to build the tabernacle? It was a place the tribe of Israel could go to get forgiveness of sins. There they had to bring offers to the LORD for forgiveness of sins, and depending on the offence, had to pay either a dove or a lamb or whatever was prescribed. The Israelites could also bring offers to the LORD to show thanks for what He did. The only person who could bring these offers to the LORD was a priest. No other person could do this. If you wanted to bring your own sacrifice the same punishment was meted out to you as was imposed on Saul when he decided he would bring the sacrifice instead of Samuel, the priest. To Saul it meant that the LORD did not confirm his kingship, and as a result of this David was crowned as king of Israel.
But wasn’t there anything before the tabernacle? No, as we read in the Bible that the tabernacle was imposed on Israel as a direct subsequence of them not doing what the LORD wanted them to do. Every person, you can confirm this in Genesis, had the right to offer a sacrifice to the LORD. There were no prescriptions on how and where it could be made, or anything to that nature at all. Sometimes, like in the case of Abraham, the LORD told people where to offer, but normally it could be done anywhere. Only after Abiram, Korah and Dathan revolted against Moses and Aaron, did the LORD impose that only Levites could do service in the tabernacle on Israel’s behalf. What we can learn from this is that before the time of the exodus, every person stood in a relationship with the LORD, but only during the exodus when Israel did not want to listen to the LORD, did He impose a way of offering sacrifices to Him. This is what Jesus referred to when He said he would destroy the temple in three days. In those three days, He restored the relationship with the LORD again, so that we can all offer our own sacrifices to Him again, without going to the priest to let him do it for you.
The old way of offering sacrifices had to be completely done away with. Jesus brought the one offer that was acceptable to the Father. He was the perfect offer. He did this for us 2000 years ago. All that remains for me is to confess my sins, but this is easier said than done. We have to remember that Jesus reinstated the method of offering sacrifices to the LORD that the people enjoyed before the exodus. Jesus reinstated the same method Abraham and others had where they could all bring sacrifices. But with the Holy Spirit coming to live in us as born again Christians, we have to remember that our bodies become living temples to the LORD. This also means that we have to behave like temples.
This brings me to the second scripture I quoted at the start of this article. Here Jesus declares that He has a baptism to go through, and that He is distressed by it. Why was He distressed? He knew He had to die. He knew he had to fight and overcome Satan. He knew He had to get the keys of death. He had to overcome death. He had to make an end to all the human ways of pleasing the LORD, and to start a new way of pleasing the LORD.
Do you know that He had such a horrid time that He actually perspired blood in Gethsemane? That He could not carry His own cross to be crucified? Why? Because He carried my sins and yours with Him to the cross. This is what happens when you come to realise that you are a sinner. This is the way you and I should feel like when we come under the conviction of sin. When we realise that Jesus carried our sins to Calvary and that or sins caused Him to sweat blood. That He was ridiculed for you and me. That is the time when we realise that maybe like Jesus, I need someone to help me. And just like Jesus found Simon of Cirene to help Him carry His cross, we must look to someone that can help us, and that someone is Jesus. He did this for us 2000 years ago. But this is what Jesus meant that He had a baptism to be baptized with that He was distressed over. And that was only the beginning.
He still had to be crucified. It was the most horrific death anyone could wish for. It was meant for murderers and these types of people. He had to be on that cross from the time that the burnt offering was renewed in the morning, till it was renewed in the afternoon, as He had to be an acceptable sacrifice to the LORD. That is why He was offered outside the town, as all the sacrifices the high priest had to bring, the lamb had to be slaughtered outside the town. Read what the writer of Hebrews had to say about it in Hebrews 9: “6 Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. 7 But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: 8 ¶ The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: 9 Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; 10 Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. 11 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; 12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. 13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: 14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 ¶ And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” Reading through the book of Hebrews we find that it explains the new covenant in detail to us. Read through it a couple of times to ensure that everything sinks in, as it is to me certainly the most wonderful book in the Bible.
What happened to Jesus after he died and before He was resurrected? We find various scriptures shedding some light on it for us. The first comes from Psalm 68 verse 18, written by king David: “Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them.” Isn’t it surprising to know that David knew what Jesus had to do? But are we sure about this? Let us look at what Peter wrote about this. 1 Peter 3 verses 18-22:” For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 21 ¶ The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: 22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.” Peter continues with this in 1 Peter 4 verse 6 as follows: ” For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” Peter is also quoted in Acts 2 verse 24: “Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.”
I trust that this gives you some idea of what Jesus had to do in those three days. He had to overcome death and tell the people that never formed part of the first covenant why He had to come to earth, in order for them to also become part of the covenant. That is why He had to descend to death, to overcome it and to fetch the dead and take them to paradise.
But why three days? We read in the Bible that three is always the figure that denotes perfection. Think of God as Father, Son and Holy Ghost, or us as a living beings, composed of a body, a soul and a spirit. The reason I believe is that he had to spend the perfect time in hell and death, in order to overcome it. He also proclaimed Himself that He will rebuild the temple in three days. As God He cannot lie, thus it will take three days to do it. But then there is another side to the story. He was resurrected. He overcame death.
Read what Hosea had to say about this event. Hosea 13:14 : “I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction”.
Do you now understand why Jesus had to die? He died in order for you and me to become part of His Kingdom. That is why Jesus referred to this part as a baptism, as this is exactly what happens when we are baptized. I have to realise that I cannot continue in my old life as a sinner any longer. I have to have a Gethsemane experience. I can then do as Jesus said, and that is to take up my cross and follow Him to die. I must allow my sins and transgressions to be nailed to cross with Jesus, in order to receive forgiveness. En route to Calvary, I might need someone to help me carry my burdens, but Jesus is more than willing. Then I have to die. As soon as I do it, Jesus will offer to Father His own blood and life in place of mine, in order for me to receive complete forgiveness. But remember Jesus was raised from the dead, and similarly I will receive His life and be raised never to die again. So as soon as I am raised from the water of baptism, I have received eternal life. I am now someone who will never die the death of a sinner, and be thrown in the pit with Satan. Jesus overcame Satan and death, and hence I will also follow Him in overcoming death and Satan. This is what Jesus declares in must happen in John 3 verses 5 and 6: “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” We can now understand that in the example of Jesus, life is always preceded by death.
Now we might also be able to understand what Peter declared in 1 Peter 3 verses 21 and 22 : “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: 22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.”
I have a question for you as reader. What does your life reflect? A life in anticipation of Him, like a virgin waiting for her husband, or have you gone a whoring after other gods?