It’s a sad sad reality that most people don’t really know what actually brought about Jesus’ death. Most people would say: “Are you crazy, everyone knows how Jesus died and what brought about His death! He was crucified wasn’t He! You Christians have been barking on about that for years so if anyone knows anything then it’s got to be that, surely!”
The sad sad fact is that it wasn’t the actual crucifixion that killed Jesus and not many people understand this. If we simply take a real close look at Jesus’ last two outcries to God whilst on the cross, then we read that Jesus cried out to God saying “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). The people that heard Jesus say these words thought He was crying out for Elias the prophet, so one of them quickly ran to get a sponge which he filled with vinegar and put it on a reed and tried to get Jesus to drink from the sponge. Other people were saying “let him be!” “let us see if Elias will come to save Him!” Then we read “Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost” (Matthew 27:50). So here we have Jesus dying on a cross but not dying because of the cross. Jesus actually died when God forsook Him! Jesus had earlier said when speaking of His death “No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.” (John 10:18).
I find it reasonable to suggest that if Jesus was in the most wonderful place in the world, perhaps on a dessert island lapping up the sun, surrounded by beautiful women, sipping wine and eating the best food, then if God forsook Him right there on the spot then Jesus would have died there and then but would we have understood that Jesus was taking a punishment for mankind? You could say the Romans had dreamed up crucifixion as a punishment for the worst offenders, so if you’d done something seriously wrong during the Roman era then the capital punishment would be crucifixion. So crucifixion was for people who had committed murders and serious theft and not just petty crimes. What Jesus was actually doing on the cross was showing us all that He was willing to take a tangible serious punishment that we would all understand, one that was dreamed up by man and not God.
The other punishment that Jesus was taking upon Himself wasn’t so easy for us all to understand and this punishment was separation from God. It is a sad fact that when we do things wrong then we become seriously separated from our most vital lifeline, that vital lifeline is our innermost spiritual need, to be connected to the very breath of life Himself. It was when God breathed into the nostrils of Adam that he became a living soul (the word soul here means that he was both spirit and body). God had breathed into Adam both spiritual and physical life, so Adam, in a sense, was breathing both spiritually and physically when he was made alive by God and became a living soul and was truly connected to God in a spiritual sense. What had happened to Jesus whilst on the cross was that God had, in a sense, cut off the very spiritual air that Jesus needed to keep Him alive. When God forsook Him like this, Jesus cried out “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me.” Jesus was in a sense saying that He had done nothing wrong so God wasn’t forsaking Him because He had done wrong, He wasn’t like the people beside Him who had committed serious theft and murder but He was dying on their behalf, on our behalf, as if He had done things wrong like they had and we do and so He became seperated from God and gave out His last cry, this cry was Jesus dying of a broken heart. When God forsook Jesus on that cross, Jesus’ heart broke and so He died of complete and utter and total loneliness and abandonment, His lifeline was cut off and so he cried out and died on our behalf and to bring us back to God if we accept this gift, given to us from the very heart and soul of Jesus!
I understand salvation to mean that first and foremost we all need true love in our lives. Sad to say, in our pursuit of true love we have a strong tendency to hurt other people and a massive selfish survival impulse that hinders us and complicates our lives and brings us into error and wrongdoings and so we hurt others, including God. What we find very lacking in our lives is the true impulse of love, love is not always inherent in us all, love is something we need to take into our very hearts and our very lives so that we can in turn, truly love God and others. The only One who ever truly loved God and others and still does is Love Himself, Jesus Himself. By having Jesus in your heart, you too can find that you can truly love God and enjoy it and you can truly love others and enjoy that too. We love Him because He first loved us and when you find God’s love, then you find that you actually love to love God because you enjoy Him through His Son Jesus. Simply ask Jesus into your heart and He will help you become a truly loving person when you learn to walk with Him, this being your true path in life and what we are all meant to do here – to love God and to love others!