Do you know the deeper spiritual meanings behind Jesus’ crucifixion?
Any Christian will be able to describe how God sent his only Son to live as a man and die for our sins on the cross, but do we know the spiritual significance of each step along that process? By understanding the deeper implications of Jesus’ crucifixion, we will appreciate how purposeful and intentional God is in all that He does, and how He does many things with our good in mind. God is truly the perfect Father of supreme wisdom, compassion, and grace!
Proverbs 16:4 ESV The LORD has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.
Every element of Jesus’ ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection was premeditated by God according to His eternal spiritual laws. The Lord Jesus has said that “not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” Jesus came to fulfill the Law on the cross through all its details — details that we may miss with casual reading, until we search out the deeper things of God with the Holy Spirit’s help.
Matthew 5:17-18 ESV “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
1 Corinthians 2:10-12 ESV these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.
John 4:23-24 ESV But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Test your spiritual insight into Jesus’ ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, test your spiritual insight into God’s ways by attempting to answer the questions below before looking at the answers provided.
Q: Why did Jesus begin his ministry at the age of 30?
Jesus was born as a man to be anointed as God’s holy and perfect High Priest, in place of all the corrupt, religious priests. He would establish a new temple not made with human hands, but by the Spirit of God.
Hebrews 2:14-15,17-18 ESV Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
Acts 7:48 ESV Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands, as the prophet says,
Traditionally, all priests would begin their work and ministry in the temple from the age of 30 years onwards. This is why Jesus stepped into ministry at age 30.
Numbers 4:1-3 ESV The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “Take a census of the sons of Kohath from among the sons of Levi, by their clans and their fathers’ houses, from thirty years old up to fifty years old, all who can come on duty, to do the work in the tent of meeting.
All priests also have to undergo ceremonial cleansing with water before their duties. This is probably one of the reasons why Jesus asked John the Baptist to baptise Him in the Jordan River, to fulfil the priestly requirements.
Numbers 8:6-7 ESV “Take the Levites from among the people of Israel and cleanse them. Thus you shall do to them to cleanse them: sprinkle the water of purification upon them, and let them go with a razor over all their body, and wash their clothes and cleanse themselves.
Ezra 6:20 ESV For the priests and the Levites had purified themselves together; all of them were clean. So they slaughtered the Passover lamb for all the returned exiles, for their fellow priests, and for themselves.
Matthew 3:13-15 ESV Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented.
God had predetermined that Jesus would be a “merciful and faithful High Priest” for His people, someone who is able to fully “sympathise with our weaknesses.” This is why Jesus was born to be like us in every respect and “tempted as we are”. Unlike other priests, Jesus has never sinned.
Hebrews 4:14-15 ESV Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
As believers, we are to follow Jesus as His next generation of royal priesthood on earth. He has said that whoever believes in Him is expected to do the same works that He did, and even greater. Moreover, we are to do Jesus’ works with a heart that seeks to glorify the Father and do His will, just as Jesus did.
1 Peter 2:9 ESV But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
Ephesians 5:1 ESV Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.
John 14:12-14 ESV “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
John 17:4 ESV I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.
John 4:34 ESV Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.
Q: Why was Jesus crucified?
Crucifixion is one of the most brutal and cruel forms of torture and execution known to mankind. People would first be tortured, flogged, and beaten, until their flesh was mutilated. Then, they would have to carry their heavy wooden cross to the location of execution, before being nailed onto it.
Crucifixion is a symbol of man’s deepest depravity and wickedness; that people could even think up such merciless cruelty from their hearts. Yet crucifixion was heaven’s choice for Jesus. This is why Jesus told Pilate, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above…” Our Saviour subjected Himself to the greatest wickedness of mankind, paid its penalty, and nailed it to the cross, so that we may “live to righteousness”. He is such a marvellous Saviour!
Genesis 6:5 ESV The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
John 19:10-11 ESV So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above…
1 Peter 2:24 ESV He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness…
Q: Why did Jesus endure such verbal, physical, and emotional abuse?
Three reasons stand out.
The first is related to purification. Flogging, beating, and piercing left no part of the body un-afflicted, internal organs would be exposed as flesh was ripped open. Even the crown of thorns would have pierced Jesus’ head and left bloody wounds. Blood literally covered every part of His body, from head to foot.
In the Law, Moses “sprinkled blood on the Tabernacle and on everything used for worship” to purify them. The Body of believers are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ pure blood was shed so as to purify every part of His Temple, which is our bodies.
Hebrews 9:20-22 ESV Then he said, “This blood confirms the covenant God has made with you.” And in the same way, he sprinkled blood on the Tabernacle and on everything used for worship. In fact, according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.
1 Corinthians 3:16 ESV Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
The second reason is related to the forgiveness of sins and the healing of our wounds. Jesus’ atoning blood covered every square inch of our body, to atone for all sorts of afflictions from sin, emotional wounding, demonic influence, and sickness. There is no part of us that will not be washed clean through repentance, renouncing, fasting and prayer. We can pray in faith that Jesus’ blood has covered it all.
Romans 3:25 ESV God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—
The third reason is related to Jesus’ ability to sympathise with all of our pain. As He went to the crucifixion, Jesus was abandoned, betrayed, mocked, ridiculed, falsely accused, belittled etc. In addition to verbal and emotional abuse, His body was so brutalised that “His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and His form marred beyond human likeness.”
Isaiah 52:14 NIV Just as there were many who were appalled at him — his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness—
Isaiah 53:3-6 NIV He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Jesus is familiar with agony and excruciating anguish. He took up our pain and bore all our suffering, so as to exchange our afflictions with His peace and healing. By taking on the weight of all our emotional and physical afflictions onto His body, it is not surprising that Jesus died quickly.
Mark 15:44 ESV Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died.
Q: What was Jesus wearing when He was crucified?
The Romans crucified their prisoners naked, so as to subject them to the greatest humiliation for “crimes against Rome.” Jesus endured great shame by being crucified naked. The only thing that He wore was the crown of thorns that the soldiers had made for His head.
John 19:23 ESV When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.
Shame first entered human consciousness after Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and realised they were naked. Jesus came to take our shame, all the way back to Adam and Eve’s nakedness, and nailed it to the cross. Hallelujah!
Hebrews 12:2-4 ESV looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
Genesis 3:7 ESV Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
Q: Why did Jesus wear a crown of thorns?
Realistically speaking, it would have been easier for the soldiers to weave a make-shift crown for Jesus using materials such as leaves, reed, or ropes, but the Lord had it such that they would weave Him a crown of thorns.
Matthew 27:29 ESV and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”
This was all part of God’s intention to redeem mankind from the curse of “thorns and thistles” that Adam reaped from rebelling against God. Both Adam and Eve originally had dominion on earth but they lost their crown of dominion to Satan after they listened to the serpent.
Genesis 3:17-18 ESV And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.
Genesis 1:27-28 ESV So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
God then drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden to keep them from eating from the Tree of Life, which would have kept them living eternally under the curses they reaped. Jesus came to not only redeem us from Adam’s curse, but He also promised to give those who love Him give a crown of life, restoring what mankind lost by being expelled from the Garden of Eden. Hallelujah!
Genesis 3:22,24 ESV Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.
Galatians 3:13 ESV Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—
James 1:12 ESV Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
Q: When Jesus’ dead body was pierced, water came out, along with blood. Is there any spiritual significance?
Crucifixion typically resulted in fluid being collected around the heart, either as a result of the rapid beating of the heart (pericardial effusion) or the lack of oxygen due to the victim’s inability to lift their body to breathe (asphyxiation). As the soldier pierced Jesus’ side, it released the watery fluid that had gathered around Jesus’ heart.
The significance of the water is not lost on those who remember the account of the Samaritan women by the well, to whom Jesus declared that “whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” That water represented eternal life that Jesus came to purchase for us on the cross. That living water, which also represents the Holy Spirit, will also flow out of the hearts of those who believe in Jesus and obey His Word. Hallelujah!
John 19:33-34 ESV But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.
John 4:13-14 ESV Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
John 7:37-39 ESV On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
Q: Before His crucifixion, Jesus entered Jerusalem on a young donkey, but He will return on a white horse. What is the spiritual significance?
The first time Jesus entered Jerusalem, He took on the form of a humble servant king (on a young donkey*). The second time Jesus returns will be to bring judgement (on a war horse) on those who have rejected God and lived for themselves only. May we all be eternally grateful the work that Jesus humbly did on the cross for us, and never take His name in vain. Let us live holy lives, submitted to the King of kings, ready to rejoice at His return.
* The young donkey had never been ridden and was not broken in, but it was subdued as it carried Jesus into Jerusalem, illustrating the Lord’s authority over all creation on earth.
Zechariah 9:9 ESV Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
Philippians 2:5-8 ESV Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Revelation 19:11-16 ESV Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
Exodus 20:7 ESV “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
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