Jesus’ Death

Matthew 20:28 reveals Jesus’ primary purpose for coming. He came to give his life as a ransom for many. The word “lutron” in Greek refers to the price paid to release a slave. The ransom was paid to fulfill the requirements of the Old Testament law. That means Jesus’ death was not paid to the Father to satisfy his wrath, as some have concluded. While Paul does refer to the wrath of God being expressed in Romans 1, it is important to recognize at what his wrath is being directed. Jesus constantly portrayed God as our loving father, who is kind and compassionate toward his children. So what is God angry at? He is angry at evil in the world that both mis-portrays God himself and deceives his children from the truth. Some have used “God’s wrath” to convince individuals to repent, however that method often leads to individuals being terrified of God, rather than living in the freedom of his love. There is also the question of why Jesus declared that God had forsaken him while he was on the cross. I believe the best way to understand this is not that Jesus was experiencing all of God’s wrath that had been stored up for mankind, but that Jesus referred to the natural consequence of a broken relationship due to man’s disobedience of God’s commands. I don’t believe Jesus felt God’s wrath on the cross, rather he felt his distance, which broke Jesus’ heart.

I’ve also heard some say that the ransom that Jesus referred to in Matthew 20:28 was paid to Satan as if he had kidnapped the human race. However, we find no evidence in Scripture for this explanation. Satan often deceives mankind, as he tried to deceive Jesus during Jesus’ temptation. However, this does not mean that Satan is the legitimate master of mankind, even though he may deceive men and women into thinking that he is.

Earlier Jesus had said he had come to fulfill the law, not to abolish it. Here Jesus tells us how he would fulfill the law. His death would fulfill the law’s requirements regarding judgment of mankind’s sin, which is why the veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom at Jesus’ death. What was keeping men out of a close relationship with God had been removed. Jesus set us free to engage in and experience a father and child relationship with God.

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