While attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, I heard a Muslim imam say that he did not believe in vicarious atonement for sin. In other words, he did not believe the death of Jesus was necessary.
Have you ever heard someone say that there are other ways to God besides Jesus? That all religions are equal? That as long as we are sincere in what we believe, a loving God will accept us? That the cross was not necessary? That if our good works outweigh our bad works, we can hope to go to Heaven?
But if there are other ways to God besides Jesus, if all religions are equal, if God accepts all those who are sincere in their beliefs, if our good works earn us a ticket to Heaven, then why did Jesus die?
If there was any other way to offer us forgiveness of sin, to reconcile us to God, to give us eternal life, and to open Heaven for us when we die, God would have found it. He never would have sent Jesus to die on the cross. There simply is no other way.
Read John 18-19
I. JESUS DIED TO FORGIVE ANYONE
A. EVEN THOSE WHO BETRAY HIM
Describe Judas from the following verses: Luke 6:16; John 6:71; 12:1-8; 13:26-30; Luke 22:3-4, 47-48.
Using your imagination, describe Judas’ experience as a disciple of Jesus on the following occasions: John 6:1-14, 16-21; 9:1-7; 11:38-44.
Why do you think Judas betrayed Jesus?
To whom did Judas confess his sin? See Matthew 27:3-5. Why was this confession insufficient? See John 14:6; 1 Timothy 2:5.
If Judas had gone to Jesus and confessed his sin, do you think Jesus would have forgiven him? What word in John 3:16 answers this question? 2 Peter 3:9?
What are some ways that you and I betray Jesus when we claim Him as our Savior and Lord, yet give our heart and time to something else?
Have you betrayed Jesus? Would you confess it now and ask Him to forgive you?
B. EVEN THOSE WHO DOUBT HIM
What did Annas, the former high priest, question Jesus about? Read John 18:19.
Apply Annas’ questions to doubts people have today.
What did Caiaphas question in Matthew 26:63?
Apply Caiaphas’ question and his dramatic denial of Jesus’ answer in Matthew 26:64-66 to people’s doubts today.
What doubts do you have about God’s Word?
Why is it important to resolve your doubts, according to Matthew 14:31? Matthew 21:21? Mark 11:23? James 1:6?
What doubts about Jesus do you have? Confess your doubts to Him, ask His forgiveness, then place your faith in Him and in His Word.
C. EVEN THOSE WHO DENY HIM
Describe Peter’s confidence in Matthew 26:31-35.
Describe his denial of Jesus in Matthew 26:69-75.
Use the following verses to describe why you think Peter repeatedly denied Jesus when he had been clearly warned and had sworn that he would not: Proverbs 11:2; 16:18. Compare Mark 14:32-38 with Proverbs 6:9-11.
What are some things you and I can do to guard against this sin? Read Psalm 56:3-4; 1 Peter 4:16; 1 Corinthians 16:13.
What wisdom learned from his own experience does Peter share in 1 Peter 5:8-9?
How do you and I deny Jesus today?
Describe a time when you have denied Him. Would you confess it to Him now and ask His forgiveness?
D. EVEN THOSE WHO REJECT HIM
Relate John 1:11 to Matthew 26:57-67.
Relate John 1:10 to John 19:1-16.
Who do you know that has rejected Jesus?
What encouragement do you find in the following passages: Acts 2:22-24? Acts 2:36 with 37-41? Acts 3:13-15 with 4:4?
If you have rejected Jesus, what do you need to do? Read Acts 3:19-20; John 1:12. What is keeping you from just doing it? Now?
If your sin is none of those listed above, what is it? Would you confess it, using the same name for it that God does, and ask Him to cleanse you with the blood of Jesus? 1 John 1:8-10.
II. JESUS DIED TO FORGIVE ANYTHING
A. HIS DEATH IS OUR SACRIFICE
From the following verses, describe what God’s law required in order for a sinner to obtain forgiveness: Leviticus 5:5-6, 17-19; 17:11.
Did the sacrifices under the Old Covenant really take away sin? Read Hebrews 10:3-4. If not, why were the sacrifices required?
How was the sacrificial law an audiovisual aid of who Jesus is and what He would do? Give phrases from: Isaiah 53:1-12; John 1:29; Romans 3:22-25; Hebrews 13:11-12; 1 John 4:10.
Is there any other sacrifice for sin we can offer that God will accept?
When have you claimed Jesus as God’s sacrifice for your sin?
B. HIS DEATH IS OUR SUBSTITUTE
Describe God’s instructions to Moses in Exodus 12:1-7 and 12-13, noting key phrases.
What two things were necessary to secure salvation from God’s judgment? Base your answer on phrases from Exodus.
As though speaking to someone outside the church, or to a child, explain how the Passover is a picture of Jesus. Read Matthew 26:2;
1 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Peter 1:18-19.
How relevant to your future is this word picture? Read Revelation 5:1-13; 7:9-17; 12:10-11; 21:1-2, 22-23; 22:3.
When judgment comes, either at your death or when Jesus returns, will it pass over you? Why?
C. HIS DEATH IS SUFFICIENT
What further sacrifice does God require for our sin? See Hebrews 10:5-14, 17-18.
How is this confirmed by Jesus’ own words spoken from the cross? See John 19:30.
When you claim the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, what sin is forgiven? Give phrases from: 1 John 1:7, 9; 2:2, 12; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 2:13-15. Apply each phrase to your own life.
Besides obtaining God’s forgiveness, what other blessings does the blood of Jesus secure for the believer? Read Revelation 1:5-6; Hebrews 10:19-22; Romans 5:9; Colossians 1:19-20.
This Easter, would you thank God for sending His only, beloved Son to die on the cross as His sacrifice for your sin? Thank Him by confessing your sin and living humbly in His forgiveness. Then go and tell someone else why Jesus died. ©2019 Anne Graham Lotz
Adapted from an article originally published in April 2006.
Anne Graham Lotz has proclaimed God’s Word worldwide for more than 40 years. Her latest book, “The Daniel Key,” is available from major booksellers.