What kind of death did our Lord and Savior suffer for the sins of the world? We know from the account of the gospels that he died an horrendous death. He was mocked, he was spit upon, he was shamed, he was beaten tremendously, thorns were placed upon his head and was nailed upon a cross he was made to bear. This he did not because he sinned, but because we sinned.
It has been said that at least 300 prophecies were fulfilled in the events surrounding the death of Jesus. Psalms 22 specifies his crucifixion: “They pierced my hands and my feet (Mt. 27:35). We read of the dividing of His garments in Psalms 22:18 (Lk. 23:34). Matthew 27:34,48 records the fulfillment of Psalms 69:21, “They also gave me gall for my food, And for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.”
In Acts 8, an Ethiopian nobleman was reading probably the greatest prophecy in Isaiah 53. Philip preached Jesus to the Ethiopian, beginning with this passage. Many of the main points of this prophecy will be brought out as we further answer the question, What Kind of Death Did Jesus Die?
Jesus, Himself, foretold His death in a number of passages. He said that He would be lifted up (Jn. 12:32,33), and that this would take place during the time of the Passover feast (Mt. 26:2). He said that the Jews and the Gentiles would be responsible for His death (Mt. 20:17-19). He taught that the “sign of Jonah”His being in the earth three days and nights would be given to “this generation” (Mt. 12:40; 16:4).
“His grave was assigned to be with wicked men, Yet with a rich man in His death; Although He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth” (Is. 53:9). This prophesy is verified by the testimony of persons connected with the death of Jesus. Judas Iscariot exclaimed, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood” (Mt. 27:4). Pilate spoke for himself and for Herod: “. . . I have found no guilt in this man regarding the charges which you make against Him. No, nor has Herod, for he sent Him back to us; and behold, nothing deserving death has been done by Him” (Lk. 23:14,15). Although Jesus was blameless, Pilate still allowed Him to be crucified. While Jesus was on the cross, a thief, dying in the same way, said this of Jesus, “. . . this man has done nothing wrong” (Lk. 23:41).
“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin . . . . For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, to offer up sacrifices, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins, and then for the sins of the people . . .” (Heb 4:15 cf; 7:26,27).
Surely, Jesus died a shameful death. The Romans considered crucifixion a humiliating way of dying. They only authorized this manner of death for slaves and degraded persons. When any leniency was shown to the victim, the executors would either cut the person’s throat or build a fire under him so that he might suffocate. We might not think this too lenient, but it did hasten death. They did not do this for Jesus.
The Law said that those who died on a tree were under a curse (Gal. 3:13 f; Deut. 21:23). These persons demanded a shameful death for the One who shamed them with His teaching.
Adding more insult to injury, Jesus was crucified between two thieves. Isaiah prophesied, “His grave was assigned to be with wicked men . . . . And (he) was numbered with the transgressors” (Isa 53:9,12).
Jesus was also forsaken in His death. The scriptures teach that He was despised of men (Is. 53:3) and “His own” did not receive Him (Jn. 1:11). Even His Apostles forsook their Lord. At Gethsemane, they would not even stay awake while Jesus prayed to the Father (Mt. 26:36). Later we read about Peter who wept when he remembered the words of Jesus: “Before a cock crows, you will deny Me three times.” The crushing blow had to be the fact that He was forsaken by God in this death. Crying aloud, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” Jesus again fulfilled prophecy (Ps. 22).
Jesus died a forgiving death. Some of the last words spoken by Him were, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Lk. 23:34). Oh, that we could bear with our fellow brethren in like manner! In fact, if we can’t forgive others, we cannot be forgiven by God (Mt 6:15).
“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (Jn. 15:13; ff. Eph. 5:2; Rev. 1:5). Regarding the giving of His life, Jesus said, “No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father” (Jn. 10:17,18 f; Mt. 26:39,42).
By His death, Jesus made available a number of promises which are free to us upon faith and obedience. We can have our fears of death removed as a result of Jesus’ death (Heb. 2:14,15). We are able to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:3-6). We are purified and made to be His possession (Tit. 2:14). Eternal life is also promised to the believer (1 Th. 4:14; 5:9,10).
Conclusion: Jesus died a saving death. “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift” (2 Cor. 9:15)! If we will be buried with Christ by baptism and raised to walk in the newness of life we can be saved (Rom 6:3,4). When was walk the path of the Lord, we shall be persecuted, hated, and tried (2 Tim 3:12 ff; 1 Pet 1:20,21; Jn 15:18; 1 Pet 1:7). If we endure, even as Jesus endured His cross, we will receive a crown of life (Rev 2:10 f; Jam 1:12).