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  • Writer's pictureGrace Church Wakefield

The Joy in Knowing Jesus Definitely Died

Sometimes we feel joy when we know for certain, for definite, that something has happened. Let me give you an example of what I mean.


Perhaps doctors told someone their operation went well and they completed the follow-up treatment without any issues. They go back to the hospital for their final check up and scans and they are told, once again, that they are clear of cancer. Of course, sadly, not everyone gets to hear that. But for those that do, it’s such a joy and relief for them and their family and friends. Having those scans, and so knowing for definite that the cancer has gone, comes as a relief and brings real joy.


In a similar way, there is also joy in knowing that Jesus died. Definitely died.


Jesus definitely died


He really, really wants you to know that Jesus is stone cold dead.


In John’s Gospel, the author (John, a close friend of Jesus) goes out of his way to hammer home this point. He really, really wants you to know that Jesus is stone cold dead.


First of all, he tells us that Jesus was crucified. Crucifixion pretty much had a 100% chance of killing someone - and the Romans, who were the ones who crucified Jesus, were masters at it. He was also whipped beforehand and abused. At this point his death was certain.


But it doesn’t stop there. John actually tells us that Jesus died surprisingly quickly. Usually, most people who’d been crucified would actually die through slow suffocation. They would become so exhausted, through the whole ordeal and the sheer amount of pain, that they would become unable to use their legs to lift up their chest enough to breathe (it could actually take over a day for a healthy person to die from crucifixion).


So, if the Romans wanted it to hurry up, they would commonly break the crucified person’s legs, making them physically unable to use their legs to lift their chest up enough to breathe. The suffocation would therefore take a matter of minutes.


We’re told in the account that this is what happened the day that Jesus died. The criminals he was crucified with had their legs broken. But when the soldiers came to Jesus to break his legs, they thought he was already dead*. One of them stabbed Jesus with their spear - presumably to check if he was alive because then his body would jerk or he’d cry out in pain, which he didn’t.


So he was dead whilst still hanging on the cross. We’re then told of numerous people being involved in taking Jesus’ body down from the cross and burying him. So it would have been impossible (realistically speaking) for that many people to have made the mistake of believing Jesus was dead, if he wasn’t. His body is prepared for burial and then buried.


So … Jesus definitely died.


But why go to such lengths to say that Jesus definitely died? Why include so much detail?


The problem Jesus’ death solves


Death was the full payment of God’s wrath at sin. If Jesus didn’t die then that full payment wouldn’t have been made. It is why John goes to such lengths to confirm Jesus definitely did die.


Well, the Bible is very clear. Everyone who has ever lived has not met God’s standard for life - perfection. Everyone, naturally, turns away from God and his goodness to them and lives their life their own way. The Bible calls this sin.


(Now, perfection may seem like an impossible standard. That is because it is. However, this shows us how good God really is. If his standard was anything less than perfection, he wouldn’t be a good or a loving God. Also, whilst we might not like the sound of this the Bible is being honest with us. And people who are honest with us are trustworthy and care about us enough to tell us the truth.)


The result of us not hitting that perfect standard is that, when we die, we face God’s right and just judgement. His holiness and utter dedication to what is right means he has to deal with all sin properly and totally. This would mean that everyone would die and face God’s wrath in hell for eternity. However, God doesn’t actually want to send even one person to hell! (just look up 2 Peter 3.9).


And so, to solve this problem, he sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to die as a substitute for us. He took the full wrath of God on himself whilst he hung on the cross and now there is nothing left to pay for.


Death was the full payment of God’s wrath at sin. If Jesus didn’t die then that full payment wouldn’t have been made. It is why John goes to such lengths to confirm Jesus definitely did die.


The Joy Jesus’ death brings


And this means that anyone who personally trusts that Jesus died for them and their sin receives total forgiveness for everything they have done. (Because the full payment has been made).


This forgiveness means that all those feelings of guilt people may have for things that happened in the past, even if it happened years ago, can be lifted. The ability to now move on from things and the pain they brought can be experienced. The sense of a new beginning, a second chance, is given.


And, most of all, because Jesus rose from the dead on the third day … he showed that death was defeated and so eternal life is also promised and given to all who believe!


If Jesus didn’t die, that could not happen. His death was necessary for people to be forgiven.


On one level, Jesus’ death is tragic - that the only truly innocent person died for guilty and messed up people. But on another level, Jesus’ death is a victory for all who know they have done wrong because they can also know that all is now forgiven. Their record in life is wiped totally clean and a fresh start to follow him awaits them!


John tells us that Jesus definitely died. That brings real relief and real joy.


And, most of all, because Jesus rose from the dead on the third day … he showed that death was defeated and so eternal life is also promised and given to all who believe!




*The account in John’s Gospel (John 19.30) tells us that Jesus,


… bowed his head and gave up his spirit.


Even though Jesus was put to death through being crucified, at the very last moment, he gave up his life. It wasn’t forcibly taken from him.


The significance of this is that Jesus died willingly. I.e. he wanted to take the full punishment for sin and he died so that he could.





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