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Study Guide: Why Did Jesus Die?

Sunday June 24, 2012 | Bruxy Cavey

Focus Scripture:


Brief Summary:

The cross shows God’s heart of infinite love, even in response to our hate and hostility. No matter what you’ve done, and no matter how far you’ve gone away from God, he loves you, he is waiting for you, and he wants to celebrate with you when you come home.


Extended Summary:

At the crucifixion of Jesus, God was not outside of Jesus pouring down his wrath. He was in Jesus, pouring out his love. Throughout history, God has been portrayed as this angry God who wants to vent his wrath at humanity. Instead, God vents his wrath at Jesus, and in doing so, Jesus saves humanity. But this picture of God is wrong.

God is love. The picture of God venting his wrath at Jesus or wanting to vent it at humanity is not the picture that Scripture paints. The greatest picture painted is when Jesus describes the prodigal son story. In this parable, a son leaves his father’s home and goes out into the world and shames himself in all of his actions. When he finally hits rock bottom, he comes back to the father. The father, instead of venting wrath, has his arms wide open waiting for his son, and the father throws a party for the son.

This story reflects the loving nature of God. We often get the picture of a father who would be angry at his son. After all, the son abandoned his father, went his own way, and when he finally came back, did not expect to be treated like a son anymore. The son felt like his father would not forgive him and would have only wrath for him. But the father only had love for his son. In fact, it was the same love that the father had for the son when the son first left.

There’s something peculiar about the story of the prodigal son—the father never changes. He doesn’t drive the son out in anger. He doesn’t neglect the son when he returns. In fact, the father adopts a loving stance towards his son during the entire story. The son is the one who changes. The son goes from thinking that his father hates him to realizing that his father loves him and has always loved him. We are the son in the story. We see God as an angry father waiting to strike us down, however, that is nothing like God and is only a lie in our heads.

When Jesus died on the cross, we don’t see an angry God taking out his vengeance on his own son. We don’t see Jesus diving in front of some cosmic bullet from God. God was not outside of Jesus venting his wrath. He was in Christ, pouring out his love. The cross shows God’s heart of infinite love, even in response to our hate and hostility. Humanity’s wrath is what put Jesus on the cross. God’s response was love. This insanely beautiful picture could only be the work of a loving God.

No matter what you’ve done, and no matter how far you’ve gone away from God, he loves you. He is waiting for you, like the prodigal father, and he wants to celebrate with you when you come home. Don’t let the fear of rejection keep you from this loving God. Run home to him as quickly as you can, and let the loving father show you exactly how much he loves you.


Reflection Questions:

  1. What additional questions and comments did you have about the sermon and supporting texts?
  2. If you have a church background, what kind of teaching on the crucifixion have you heard most often? If you have little church experience, had you ever thought about why Christ died on the cross?
  3. “At the crucifixion of Christ, God was not outside Jesus, pouring down his wrath. He was in Christ, pouring out his love.” Do you agree or disagree? Why?
  4. What scripture says God did for us (suffering, loving, and forgiving to name a few), we are called to offer to others. Who in your life do you have difficulty offering these things?
  5. What would it look like this week for you to love them like God loves you? What is your plan for loving that person this week?

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