“ONE OF THE REASONS JESUS DIED”
1. A man would have to be both blind and deaf to miss the controversy that has engulfed our entire country over the opening of the Mel Gibson film, The Passion Of The Christ.
2. According to Movie News, an online box office web site, the gross take for the movie for its first three days of release, Wednesday through Friday, was $64.6 million, and predicted ticket sales to pass the $110 million mark by the end of today, making this film one of the all time top opening movies ever produced.
3. This brings up a question. Why all the fuss? Why all the attention to this movie? Why the controversy? Listen to what Jesus said, in Matthew 10.35: “For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.” So you see, whenever the issue of the person and work of Jesus Christ is thrust to the forefront there will be division and conflict.
4. Christians ought to be wise in this regard, and should be avid students of current events and breaking news. Christians should very much be social analysts. This is why I urge every Christian to read newspapers and to listen to news radio. We, of all people, should be aware of which way the wind is blowing in our culture.
5. In Second Corinthians 10.4, Paul made reference to what he called “the weapons of our warfare.” The particular word that he chose to use, which is translated “warfare,” is the word strateuw, from which we get our military term “strategy.”
6. So you see, Paul was a strategic Christian, a strategic thinker, a servant of God who kept his head up so he could detect political and cultural winds of change and take advantage of them. I think you need to be the same type of person. I think you need to be a bit of a news junkie in this regard, reading newspapers and listen to the news . . . keeping your finger on the community and national pulse.
7. I say all of this to get back to this movie, The Passion Of The Christ. There have been other movies about Jesus Christ that stirred up none of the nationwide uproar this movie has. When Martin Scorcese’s The Last Temptation Of Christ was produced it stirred almost no opposition, though it blasphemously portrayed the Lord Jesus Christ as having a love affair with Mary Magdalene.
8. A couple of Baptists and a bunch of Catholics got mad about that movie, and a friend of mine led his church to campaign against its producer, Lew Wasserman, but almost no one else did anything. So, why is there so much activity and attention paid to this movie, made by Mel Gibson?
9. I do not know precisely why this movie is such a big deal in our country. But I do know that it is a big deal in our country, and I think it would be foolish to ignore the phenomenon. For some reason, millions of people are flocking to see a movie about the last twelve hours of Christ’s life on earth, culminating with His death on the cross.
10. What does that mean? That means there are millions of Americans who are thinking about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who do not normally think about such things. And is that not to our advantage? Do we not ask for little from sinners, other than their attention to the facts of the Gospel that we preach?
11. We are not decisionists here. We do not knowingly try to do God’s work for Him, but strive to stay on track to do what our Lord Jesus Christ has commissioned us to do, leaving the work of the Spirit of God in the lives of sinners to the Spirit of God. Therefore, when we observe a phenomenon such as The Passion Of The Christ occurring, is it not neglect to let it pass by without taking advantage where advantage may be found?
12. There are now millions of people who are thinking about an important subject they usually ignore. Unusually, they now have on their minds that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, suffered and bled and died on a cruel Roman cross. Let us step up and answer the question that needs to be both asked and answered, “Why?”
13. This book that I hold in my hand, The Passion of Jesus Christ, written by John Piper, was written specifically to be read by those lost millions who are now flocking to the local theaters to see the story that they have neglected to read about in the Bible, the last twelve hours of Jesus Christ.
14. In his book, which we have purchased many copies of to give to those who have seen the movie, The Passion Of The Christ, the author has fifty two-page chapters that deal with Scriptural reasons Jesus Christ suffered and bled and died on Calvary’s cross.
15. This morning we will look at one of those compelling reasons: The Lord Jesus Christ came from heaven’s glory, took upon Himself human flesh by means of the virgin birth, lived a sinless life and suffered a vicarious death, to save us from this present evil age.
16. Please turn, now, to the New Testament book of Galatians. When you have found Galatians chapter 1, stand for the reading of God’s Word:
1 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)
2 And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia:
3 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,
4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:
5 To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
17. Focus your attention on verse 4, where Paul makes three important statements about the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ:
1A. First, THERE IS CHRIST’S PRIESTLY FUNCTION
Verse four begins, “Who gave himself for our sins”
1B. The “who” in this verse refers back to verse 3, “Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins.” So, there is no doubt about who the word “who” is referring to. It is my Lord Jesus Christ.
2B. So, what do we find here concerning the Lord Jesus Christ? He “gave himself for our sins.” Being given for believer’s sins is Jesus as the sinless sacrifice for sins, as the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. But by giving Himself the focus is on His priestly function of offering the sacrifice for sins, which, of course, was Himself.
3B. So then, Jesus gave Himself for believer’s sins, “the just for the unjust.” This word for is interesting, translating the Greek word uper, which means “in behalf of, for the sake of someone or something.” Thus, Jesus is shown here to be God’s chosen Substitute.
4B. Good old John Gill writes on this phrase, “He gave himself freely, cheerfully, voluntarily, into the hands of men, justice, and death itself, as a sacrifice for sin, to expiate it, make reconciliation and atonement for it, which could not be done by the sacrifices of the legal dispensation; to procure the remission of it, which could not be had without shedding of blood; and utterly to take it away, finish it, and make an end of it, and abolish it, so as that it might never rise any more to the condemnation of his people: and this reached to ‘sins’ of all sorts, not only original, but actual, and these of thought, word, and deed; and this oblation of himself upon the cross, was not for any sin of his own, who had none, nor for the sins of angels, of whom he was no Redeemer and Saviour, but ‘for our sins’; not the sins of the apostles, or of the Jews only, nor yet of all mankind, but of God’s elect, called the friends of Christ, his sheep and church, for whom he gave himself.”
5B. No wonder the writer to the Hebrews describes the Lord Jesus Christ as “a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.”
2A. Next, THERE IS PRESENT DELIVERANCE
Verse 4 continues, “Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world.”
1B. Why did Jesus die on the cross? There are many answers to that question, as I mentioned before when I told you about this book. This book provides fifty Scriptural answers to that question. But this morning we want to know the answer given to us by Paul in our text. Why did Jesus Christ give Himself for believer’s sins? “. . . that he might deliver us from this present evil world.”
2B. There are three concepts that are important for you to understand at this point:
1C. First, there is the concept of deliverance. We live in a day when most so-called Christians think that salvation is somehow disconnected from deliverance, and that when a sinner is saved from sins he can go on living in his sins just like he did before he was converted. But this word “deliver” means “to take out, to deliver. It denotes the rescue from the power of” some thing or someone. Bauer defines the term in this way: “To deliver someone from peril. . . .” So, Paul is referring to a real rescue from real danger, not something hypothetical or positional. Lost friend, you are in real danger without Jesus Christ.
2C. Next, there is the concept of “present.” Hang on to this, beloved. This word “present,” translating the word enistami, literally means “at the time of speaking, be now, happen now.” Thus, Paul is not referring to the future salvation from the very presence of sin that every Christian looks forward to. He is referring to a right now deliverance that only a Christian experiences during the course of this present life.
3C. The last concept for you to grab hold of is “evil world.” The word “world” comes from the Greek word for age. So, it’s not the planet earth Paul is referring to, but “the current world system ruled by Satan.” This is the world system that John wrote about in First John 2.15-16: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”
3B. So, not only does the Lord Jesus Christ save sinners from the penalty of their sins, and from the power of their sins in their present lives, and someday from the very presence of sins when they get to heaven, but He also presently delivers those who know Him from this evil world. That is, He breaks the hold this world’s fashions and this world’s attitudes and this world’s values have on those He saves. And this is good. Why is this good? Because this present world is evil, and its effect and impact on anyone and everyone who lives in it is bad.
4B. Who would normally think of murdering an unborn child, but someone affected by this evil world? Who is likely to abandon spouse and children, but someone who is affected by this evil world? Who would parade her nakedness to strangers, as girls and women so frequently do these days, but someone who is immersed in the culture and overwhelmed by the values of this world? I could go on, but you begin to see, whether in the school yard sand box or at the mall, the destructive effects of this evil world.
3A. Finally, THERE IS THE PLAN OF GOD
“Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.”
1B. The salvation of sinners was not the idea of any sinner. It was God’s idea. The plan was God’s plan. And the plan was not some stopgap measure that God contrived when Adam and Eve suddenly and surprisingly sinned against Him. Oh, no. The plan to which Paul refers in our text fulfills God’s grand and glorious purpose.
2B. John 1.13 speaks to this point of the salvation of sinners being God’s idea: “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
Again, some important observations:
1C. “Which were born, not of blood . . . .” Blood is actually plural here in the Greek text, literally “Which were born, not of bloods.” What does this mean? During their wilderness wanderings, the Jews had forsaken the rite of circumcision God gave to Abraham and his progeny, until they re-instituted the practice upon entering the promised land. As well, they had begun observing the Passover and Day of Atonement. Is the mingling of the blood of circumcision and the blood of atoning sacrifices what is meant here? It doesn’t matter, because it isn’t enough. Could bloods refer to the blood line of the father and the blood line of the mother, referring to being born again as a right of inheritance from your parents? It doesn’t matter, because it isn’t enough. Whether you shed the blood of your own circumcision and the blood of an innocent animal to atone for your sins, or depend upon the faith of your mother and your father, it is still not sufficient to deal with your own sins.
2C. “. . . nor of the will of the flesh . . . .” There is nothing arising out of the corrupt nature of any man’s flesh that desires the forgiveness of sins and its accompanying new birth unto life, liberty and communion with God as His child.
3C. “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” This matter of regeneration, of being born again, of salvation from sins and salvation from this present evil world, is something come entirely from the mind and heart of God. And it was come from the mind and heart of God in eternity past, and not as some recent adaptation to any turn of events.
4C. This is precisely why John’s Revelation describes Jesus as “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Indeed, if Paul’s words are to be taken at face value this matter of salvation can only have come from the mind of God, for as Ephesians 1.4 reads, “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.”
3B. So you see, this is most definitely God’s plan, which is executed according to the will of God, by His perfectly obedient Son; for as Jesus said in John 8.29, “I do always those things that please him.”
1. To conclude, the Lord Jesus Christ has performed His priestly function: He “gave himself for our sins.” He did so, our text tells us, to “deliver us from this present evil world.” And He did all this in accordance with God’s perfect and wise plan, properly executed to fulfill His will.
2. Where does that leave you? You are still left where you have always been, dead in trespasses and sins. You are still in need of the salvation which only Jesus Christ can provide. Only now you realize that it’s not just your own sins you need to be delivered from, but also this present evil world.
3. But that is the real issue for some of you. You love what God hates; this world, with its lust of the flesh and lust of the eyes and pride of life. Perhaps you are like Lot’s wife in this regard, who was so much in love with Sodom that even while being delivered to safety she looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt.
4. It might be the same with you as it was with her. There is no indication that she partook of the base sins that city is known for and to which it has lent its name. Neither was she an adulteress or a drunkard. So, it wasn’t that she was the worst of sinners. Oh, no. Her problem was that she loved the world.
5. That’s why you need to be delivered from this present evil world just as much as you need to be saved from your sins. The question is, do you want to be delivered from this present evil world? Do you want to be saved from your sins?
6. Jesus is the Savior of sinful men’s souls. He saves sinners from their sins. He also saves sinners from this present evil world. But only those who want to be saved. Do you want to be saved? Do you really? If you really do, then you will need to come to the Savior.
 Bauer, page 344.
 Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), page 1030.
 John Gill, The John Gill Library, (Paris, AK: The Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc., 2000)
 Hebrews 2.17
 Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 500.
 Bauer, page 344.
 Bauer, page 337.
 See footnote for Galatians 1.4 from John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997), page 1788.
 Joshua 5.3, 5, 7
 Revelation 13.8