1 Corinthians 15:3-4
For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;…
I. It was violent and ignominious — A DEATH BY CRUCIFIXION. Christians living at this remote age of the Church, are, in some sense, disqualified to conceive of that extremity of pain and shame which attended an execution by the cross. We have been accustomed to associate with the cross whatever is stupendous in history, whatever is dear, and sacred, and sublime in truth. But it was far otherwise in that age, and with those nations among whom the apostles went forth to proclaim their crucified Lord. They knew the cross in no other character than as the instrument of the most horrible and most infamous of punishments. We cannot, therefore, but admire, that in the face of this strong and universal detestation, the apostles should so explicitly affirm and so earnestly iterate the fact of their Master's crucifixion. Far from drawing an oblivious veil over the Cross, far from attempting, by partial or enigmatical statements, to conceal the offensive fact, they assert it, they appeal to it, they rejoice and glory in it!
1. The sincerity of the apostles, and their conviction that Jesus is the Saviour of the world. Had they been insincere, or had they been of doubtful mind, as to the Christ of God, the mode of their Master's death they might well have kept back.
2. We ourselves may take a lesson not to stumble at the scandal of the Cross. Happy they who, feeling it to be the power of God and the wisdom of God, are raised above the contempt of unbelieving men, and can glory in the Cross of Christ!
II. The death of Christ was POSITIVE AND REAL — not fictitious, not visionary: "Christ died for our sins." The importance of this part of apostolic instruction we should have much more distinctly perceived had we lived nearer the times of the apostles. Very early in the Christian Church, yea, even in the days of the apostles themselves, there arose a sect of people who denied the reality of the sufferings and death of the Holy Jesus, maintaining that the Jews spent their fury on a phantom sent from heaven to delude them, and that the real Christ was far removed above the reach of their malignant and cruel hands. Some of these persons had witnessed the miracles which the apostles wrought, and probably some of them those of the Saviour Himself; and we may readily conceive how the witnesses of such wonders should find it difficult to credit, that He who wrought them could ever fall a victim to wicked and impotent men! Be this as it may, the apostles, those wise master builders, were careful to guard against the fatal mistake we have mentioned. With what particularity of circumstance did the sacred historians narrate the manner of Messiah's death!
III. These sufferings, and this death, were a vicarious, sacrificial OFFERING TO GOD, for the sins of the world.
1. This account of the Saviour's death is required by the express and constant language of the inspired writers. See Isaiah 53:6; 1 Timothy 2:5, 6; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 John 2:2; Revelation 5:9.
2. This view of the sufferings and death of the Lord Jesus is no less forced upon us by the narrative of the event. I will not ask where was the goodness, the compassion of the Divine nature? but I will ask where was its justice, its equity, its righteousness if the immaculate Jesus could bear all this weight of woe, and yet not sacrificially, not as a substitute, not as the Lamb of God, dying for the sins of the world?
3. It is when the sufferings and death of the Lord Jesus are regarded in this light that they become, what the sacred Scriptures represent them, the highest display of the love of God to man.Conclusion:
1. This vital, all-momentous Christian doctrine may serve to guide us in our behaviour towards those who deny the Lord that bought them. As men, and as men for whom Christ died, they are entitled to our respect, our pity, and our prayers; but never let us be found lending ourselves to countenance their fatal errors.
2. The exhibition of this great truth may serve to make known the aggravated guilt, the awful danger of an impenitent life.
3. This blessed doctrine ought especially to bring encouragement to every one who sincerely mourns on account of sin.
4. Finally, standing on this bright and eternal truth, I have a right to require that you unite with me in ascriptions of praise to the adorable Fountain of all this love to man.
Parallel VersesKJV: For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;