What Jesus Taught about His Death

What Jesus Taught about His Death

No one has taken [My life] away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative.
–John 10:18

Some people think Jesus’s death was a tragic end to an otherwise happy story. But Jesus said, “No one has taken [My life] away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative” (John 10:18). Jesus taught that His death was central to His mission. For example, in Matthew 16:21 Jesus said, “From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.” And He said in John 12:32-33, “‘I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.’ But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die.”

What did Jesus’s death accomplish? Christ’s death was the payment for our sins and the ransom for our freedom. His death paid our sin debt. The Bible says every time we sin, we go into debt to God. If we die without having our debt to God satisfied, we will spend eternity paying off that debt ourselves in hell. The biggest choice we make in life is how we are going to pay for our sins. We can say, “I’ll pay off the debt myself.” But you and I owe God a debt we could never repay. That’s why if we die without our sin debt being taken care of, we will spend eternity paying for it. When Jesus hung on the cross, He said, “It is finished”–literally, “paid in full” (John 19:30). Jesus paid our sin debt for us. He doesn’t force us to accept that payment. We get to choose how we’re going to pay for our sins. We can pay for it or let Christ pay for it.

Jesus’s death was also the ransom for our freedom. In Matthew 20:28, Jesus said, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” That word “ransom” described a payment that was made for a slave. If you wanted a slave in Jesus’s day, you would go to the slave market where people who were born into slavery were held in chains. If you paid the appropriate price, you could buy them out of the slave market, and they became yours. That is the word Jesus used to describe what He did for us. You and I are born into this world slaves of Satan. He is a cruel taskmaster, but Jesus paid the price to buy our freedom. He ransomed us out of the market of sin and death, and brought us into His own presence. He did not purchase your freedom to set you free to live however you want to live. Paul said, “Do you not know . . . that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Salvation is not the freedom to do what we want to do. It’s the freedom to do what Christ wants us to do. He purchased us out of the slave market with His own blood. That’s why Jesus came. He came to be a payment for our sin and to be a ransom for our freedom.

The only way Jesus could pay our sin debt was by His own death. That’s why He said in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” If there were any other way to pay our debt, then the death of Jesus was unnecessary. But there was no other way. That is the reason He came.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Intolerant Christ” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2015.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.