Jesus Christ: Why is His crucifixion good news?
When the trials of Jesus were being conducted, the apostles and many others were horrified by it all. What the Romans were doing was highly depressing to all His followers. Suddenly things had gone from “Palm Sunday” where Christ was warmly received in the streets of Jerusalem to His arrest, flogging, and more extreme brutality. Next thing the people knew, He was walking through the streets of Jerusalem, carrying a cross upon which He was to be crucified. What were people to think of all this? Were they thinking of it as good news? Of course not! The apostles and others had been expecting this Jesus of Nazareth to soon rule over a new and wonderful kingdom He would establish. He had told them numerous times that such a kingdom was “at hand.”
2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. [Emphasis added]
He had even commissioned His apostles to proclaim this same message. To them it was the thought of this new kingdom coming soon that was good news.
7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. [Emphasis added]
The apostles had even been promised positions of rulership over it.
28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. [Emphasis added]
But suddenly things took a totally unexpected turn. Their King was arrested and tried. It seemed their hopes and dreams were suddenly dashed. How depressing this proved to be for them! Then, there He was hanging on a cross, and finally dead. None but one of Christ’s apostles had stayed with Him to the end. The others had all hidden, fearing they could be crucified next. His body was soon taken down and put in a tomb guarded by Roman soldiers, thinking His followers might steal His body to claim He had been resurrected. Again, what were Christ’s followers to think? Was this the end of their hopes and dreams? What were they then to do? The only logical thing seemed to be to go back to doing what they were doing before they ever met this Man. So, that’s exactly what they did. But to their surprise, they discovered that the tomb had been opened and His body was nowhere to be found. Then, they are all startled when they meet up with Him alive, as hundreds of others did also.
I Corinthians 15:5-7
5 And that he was seen of Cephas [Simon Peter], then of the twelve:
6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep [had died].
7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. [Emphasis added]
Not even the apostles had believed He’d rise from the grave. Please note how He sternly rebuked them for their unbelief.
14 Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with [ONEIDIZO – “chewed them out” for] their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. [Emphasis added]
They found Him to not only be alive but in a new body, a resurrected body with supernatural abilities. Then after being highly encouraged by meeting with Him and hearing His words, they find that a new mission has been given to them.
15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel [EUANGELION = good news] to every creature. [Emphasis added]
They were to go forth [to the Jews in Jerusalem first—Acts 13:46] telling those who’d not believed in Him to “repent,” meaning to change their mind and to accept Him as the promised Messiah He claimed to be. So many had believed He was a false teacher, but now so many see that He was exactly who He had claimed to be. He surely was the long-promised Messiah of Israel! We find the apostle Peter proclaiming the message he and the others had been given. Here’s a portion of it, along with the response they received from some.
Acts 2:14, 36-38
14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:
36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent [METANOEO = change your mind (about who He is)], and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. [Emphasis added]
Peter’s message was one commanding repentance [and water baptism]. A change of mind had to occur first if the promised kingdom was to come. The message was much like that of John the Baptist, Jesus in His earthly ministry, and that of the Twelve, except that it followed Christ’s resurrection. And please notice that Peter did not preach the death of Christ as a glorious victory over sin and death, but as reason for the condemnation of all Israel for what they had done. It was presented as something totally disgraceful, not glorious. Instead, it just offered the nation of Israel a renewed opportunity to accept their King and enjoy the promised kingdom. But how was this message received by a large majority of Israel. It wasn’t! Of the million-plus in Israel only a few thousand accepted it. The vast majority rejected it. But God had a wonderful surprise, a “mystery” [a MUSTERION = a secret] to reveal. And He was going to make known the details of this secret through the one who had been the main rebel of them all, a man called Saul of Tarsus who would later become known as the apostle Paul. Not until Paul, was the death and resurrection of Christ preached as good news. The message of Paul took the news of Jesus’ death from one of cursing to one of blessing. Not until we get to Paul’s writings is it disclosed that Christ’s death and resurrection were not only good news, but God was also offering reconciliation to not only Israel, but to the entire world. We find that He even provided all of us as believers with a ministry of reconciliation in which we’d have the opportunity to present this glorious message to the entire world.
II Corinthians 5:18-19
18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
And what was this message? Here it is!
19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed [as a commission] unto us the word [or message] of reconciliation. [Emphasis added]
This tells us clearly that the message is that the sins of the entire world are no longer being held against us but were ALL held against Jesus Christ on the cross.
I Timothy 2:6
6 Who [Jesus Christ] gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. [Emphasis added]
Because the sins of the world were charged to Him and because He completely paid the penalty for them with His death, they can never be charged to anyone else. The natural law of double jeopardy guarantees that. Yes, this means the forgiveness of sins was provided for all. The “debt” we all owed was completely forgiven. As Christ’s representatives we are now to present this good news to the world. We are to encourage people to respond with faith to this work He did for us all so they can then be saved.
II Corinthians 5:20-21
20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.
This means that not until someone accepts what He did for them will they be saved. But if they do accept this message, they will be saved immediately.
21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. [Emphasis added]
It is this work of reconciliation He provided that is our message of good news [typically called “the gospel”] we are to proclaim to the world. This ministry isn’t just directed to some believers, but to all.
This glorious news about what Christ had accomplished at the cross was later first revealed to the apostle Paul.
I Timothy 1:15-16
15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. [Emphasis added]
Then later Paul reveals this information and more to the twelve apostles at what is often called The Jerusalem Council recorded in Acts 15. Some people foolishly believe that this council meeting was to provide orientation to Paul. The reality is that the opposite is true. When Jews tried to impose circumcision and the Mosaic Law on Paul’s converts, he decided he needed to go to Jerusalem to inform them of his message and commission.
1 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.
2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. [Emphasis added]
This is what Peter is talking about at the very end of his last epistle. When the promised kingdom had not come, Peter, the other apostles, and others had become very discouraged.
II Peter 3:15-16
15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
Note again that it was Paul who was first given this information to then pass on to the apostles and others. Paul’s “success” with the Gentiles was a great source of encouragement to Peter and all the others.
16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. [Emphasis added]
This “wresting” [perversion of the truth] goes on to this day. People still refuse to accept the difference that exists between Peter’s message and commission and that which was given to Paul.
It is also important to note that the believers of the Jerusalem church sold all their possessions and held the proceeds in common. Such was the character of the Jerusalem church headed by Peter and, apparently later, by James. This holding of all things in common was to be the policy for the citizens in the coming kingdom of God on a beautifully restored Earth.
21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. [Emphasis added]
If today you wanted to follow Jesus in His earthly ministry, this is what you would have to do.
21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. [Emphasis added]
Somehow, I don’t see people doing this today who claim they want to “follow Jesus.” I’m all for following Him too, but NOT in His earthly ministry. We are to follow the teachings He provided, but through His heavenly ministry.
II Corinthians 5:16
16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh [speaking of Christ’s earthly ministry], yet now henceforth know we him no more. [Emphasis added]
However, if you are determined to follow Christ’s teaching in His earthly ministry, what you must do has been clearly stated.
33 Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. [Emphasis added]
All that seems quite clear to me and should to you. This was at the heart of Christ’s message throughout Israel at that time.
22 Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. [Emphasis added]
The record tells us this is exactly what Christ’s followers did. They gave away all they had to follow Him. And, again, if you think we’re to follow the teachings of Christ in His earthly ministry as the norm for us today, have you done this? How many sermons have you heard where a preacher tells his congregation to sell their possessions and give the money to the church? I personally know no one who has obeyed any of this, nor should they. Yet this is exactly what the twelve apostles and many others did.
32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.
33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.
And, for a time, everything seemed to be working fine.
34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,
35 And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. [Emphasis added]
So, what happened? What brought an end to this? The answer to that is that nearly all of Israel rejected the message of the apostles. Of the million plus that were there, only a few thousand responded with faith. The others, despite all the evidence to the contrary, refused to accept Jesus as their promised Messiah. Therefore, God did something totally unexpected, something that none of the prophets had foretold. It had been “a mystery,” that is, a secret held in the mind of God. Instead of dispensing the judgment Israel deserved, God dispensed grace. A period of grace was then introduced that we are still enjoying today. And it was the apostle Paul that God used to disclose all this.
2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:
3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery [MUSTERION = a secret]; (as I wrote afore in few words,
4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)
5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as [HOS = showing contrast] it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;
6 That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body [speaking of the body of Christ composed of both Jews and Gentiles], and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: [Emphasis added]
This “gospel” [the message of good news] Paul speaks of is the gospel message given to him that was different from the “gospel” message the Lord had given to Peter and the other Apostles.
7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me [Paul], as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; [Emphasis added]
All this meant that a new program was put into place. Jews and Gentiles would be entered into one body, the Body of Christ, through the baptism [a dry baptism] of the Holy Spirit.
I Corinthians 12:13-14
13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
14 For the body is not one member, but many. [Emphasis added]
Today this Body of Christ is composed of all those who’ve accepted Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as the sole basis for their salvation.
I Corinthians 15:3-4
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: [Emphasis added]
Unlike Israel, the Church of today, this Body of Christ made up of Jews and Gentiles, is not under a covenantal relationship with God. Prior to the calling of Abraham, God had made a covenant with all mankind of every generation through Noah in which He promised to never again destroy the world with water [Genesis 9:9-17]. After God created the Hebrew race [the Jews] through Abraham, He made covenants with them. But, again, God never made a separate covenant with the Body of Christ Church of which we are a part today. Even this which is spoken of as “the new covenant” [usually called the new testament today] was given to Israel.
31 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: [Emphasis added]
Among other things, this means we are not under the dictates of the Mosaic Law or the new covenant. God’s relationship to the Church today is by grace alone. Paul mentions this in passing in his letter to the Romans.
14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. [Emphasis added]
Again, God never made a covenant with the Church of today. This also means we are not “The New Testament Church” as many believe. We are not under a new covenant. Again, God is dealing with us under the principle of grace. We do share in certain spiritual blessings that were given to Israel as a part of the New Covenant, but not any of the physical or material ones. So, we are not under THAT covenant. The Church of which we are a part is separate and distinct from Israel and the covenants given to them. Here’s a chart that shows the differences.
The Church that is Israel The Church that is The Body of Christ
Established by & under covenants Established by grace alone
It was prophesied It was a mystery, not prophesied
It has only earthly promises It has heavenly promises
It is a physical Kingdom It is a spiritual Body
Christ is King Christ is Head
Again, Israel was established first by a covenant God made with Abraham who became the father of the Jewish race. Subsequent covenants followed with the final covenant being The New Covenant. However, both regenerate Israel and the Body of Christ are beneficiaries of what is called the “everlasting covenant.”
20 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,
21 Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen [Emphasis added]
This covenant was not made with either Israel or the Body of Christ Church. This Eternal Covenant was sovereignly made by God the Father and God the Son in eternity past as the means of redeeming fallen mankind, solving the problem of evil, and bringing glory to God. But our destiny, the destiny of the Body of Christ Church is Heaven, not on Earth as a part of an earthly kingdom.
20 For our conversation [POLITEUMA = citizenship] [as members of the Body of Christ] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: [Emphasis added]
Again, the destiny of regenerate Israel is an earthly kingdom, not Heaven. We see this coming to expression in the prayer Christ gave to the apostles and others of Israel.
9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. [Emphasis added]
This is one of several reasons this is not a prayer for us, but for Israel. It was to Israel that God promised an earthly kingdom. It is for that reason that they were to pray for its coming. This is the kingdom Christ so often spoke of in His earthly ministry. It is the kingdom the people of Israel were eagerly anticipating. It was this kingdom that was on the minds of the apostles right before Christ left them, ascending into Heaven.
6 When they [the twelve apostles] therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? [Emphasis added]
One other thing this verse shows is that the kingdom Christ promised has still not come, as some mistakenly claim that it has. That includes the situation with us as members of the Body of Christ. We, today, do not make up a kingdom of any kind. This is a part of the confusion in the Church today. Instead of being a part of a kingdom, we are members of the Body of Christ Church. And that will always be who we are.
Throughout most of its history the nation of Israel operated under the Law of Moses just as we see Jesus operating under that Law during His earthly ministry. Here’s one of many examples in Scripture that shows that.
4 And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. [Emphasis added]
In a future day, under the New Covenant, Israel will live in a kingdom on a restored Earth where they will have the Law written on their hearts.
33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. [Emphasis added]
As we’ve seen, while Jesus Christ is spoken of as Israel’s King, He is called the Head of the Body of Christ. He is never spoken of in Scripture as the King of the Body of Christ Church. He is the King of Israel alone. Notice the promise given to His mother, Mary, about this.
31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.
This, of course, has been completely fulfilled, but what follows has not.
32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. [Emphasis added]
Ironically, the unbelieving Roman governor Pilate, a Gentile, recognized Jesus’ kingship, even though the Jews refused to do so.
16 Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away.
17 And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha:
18 Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.
19 And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was Jesus Of Nazareth The King Of The Jews.
20 This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin.
21 Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews.
22 Pilate answered, What I have written I have written. [Emphasis added]
In the coming kingdom on Earth, Jesus will rule as Israel’s King in His role as King David’s greater Son. In this role He will fulfill the Abrahamic, Palestinian, Davidic, and New Covenants. God always keeps His promises! All this certainly means good news for Israel. And it was the cross, burial, and resurrection of Christ that paved the way for it. In our case, as members of the Body of Christ Church, we, too, have gained from it. But in our case, we’ll reside forever, not on a restored Earth, but in Heaven. God established this Church, the Body of Christ, with the conversion and commission of Paul as the apostle to the Gentiles. To get to be a part of it, here’s what’s involved.
1—Faith in what Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross and His resurrection from His grave [I Corinthians 15:3-4; II Corinthians 5:18-21]. This settles our eternal destiny once and for all.
2—It is when we are saved that we are made members of what is called the Body of Christ Church [I Corinthians 12:12; Ephesians 1:22-23].
3—This union occurs by way of a dry baptism called the baptism of the Holy Spirit through which we are then identified with Christ forever [I Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:26-27].
4—We are then also permanently indwelt by the Holy Spirit [I Corinthians 6:19].
In Jesus’ day, the “church” or “assembly” was composed of those who repented [meaning they changed their mind and accepted the identity of Jesus as their Messiah] and were water baptized. This was the requirement to be a citizen of the Messianic Kingdom. Through Paul, however, God created a new entity, the “church” or “assembly” called the Body of Christ, in which no distinction exists between Jew and Gentile. Furthermore, no water baptism is involved [I Corinthians 1:17; Ephesians 4:5 cf. I Corinthians 12:13]. The fact that God was going to do this was a mystery, a “secret” He revealed to Paul alone. It was Paul who was then commissioned as the “apostle to the Gentiles” to reveal this new Church, the Body of Christ.
13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: [Emphasis added]
ALL these blessings I’ve mentioned in this study came through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is for this reason that we can and should think of the cross of Christ as “good news.” Nothing better in all history has or ever will happen for us. Therefore, let me ask you a serious question. Who will you share this good news message with next?