A sculpture showing the body of Jesus hanging from the cross.

Jesus’ Death, and Its Critical Importance for Us, As Found in the Book of Romans

Last time we studied from the book of Romans we considered the patriarch Abraham and him being accounted righteous apart from works of the Law. This truth was, and is, a fundamental part of us becoming Christians. It’s also non-negotiable, as is the case for many other topics in the New Testament. Two of these include Jesus’ death and resurrection, the former of which we’ll examine today.

At the end of the fourth chapter of Romans, the apostle Paul remarks that the accounting of Abraham as righteous through faith was not for his sake alone (Rom. 4:23). It was also for us, who believe in Him who raised Jesus, our Lord, from the dead (Rom. 4:24). What he says next is our focus for our next two articles.

[W]ho was delivered up for our trespasses, and was raised for our justification.

Romans 4:25

Reasons for Writing

I feel compelled to examine this verse for a few reasons. I am concerned that some may be misled and think that specific aspects of Jesus’ death and resurrection are optional. As if we can make up our own ideas about them and actually consider such perspectives as valid. We must reject this temptation! The Scriptures are very specific about Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection, and we need to be willing to affirm both of them.

This is especially the case since Jesus’ death is connected with our own trespasses against God. Unfortunately, many don’t actually believe that Jesus died for our sins. That is a terrible thought, and I’ll explain why near the end of this study. Of course, speaking with courage about Jesus’ suffering will likely upset those who believe differently. They may call us stupid and narrow-minded for disagreeing with them. However, we still need to stand firm in the truth of the Bible. 

I have these contrasting perspectives in mind as I write this piece. I hope you take it to heart, and humbly ask that you study these topics for yourselves. Today we’ll discuss Jesus’ death. Next time we’ll examine His resurrection. One key observation that helps us understand the importance of Romans 4:25 is how much the verse is about us.

Jesus Was Delivered Up for Our Trespasses

In the first half of the verse we are told that Jesus was delivered up for our trespasses. It actually describes God’s actions done on our behalf twice. Once related to our sins, and a second time regarding our justification. Paul’s use of the term “trespasses” is a good illustration. It reminds us of how God gave us a certain degree of freedom and opportunity in our lives, but we went beyond what He desired of us. We went out of bounds, so to speak. By going outside His will, we fall into sin.

For our wicked behavior we rightly deserve to be judged by God. Now, in order for justice to be fulfilled, we should pay the price of our sins with our lives. Afterall, the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23).  However, as our primary verse teaches, Jesus was delivered up for our trespasses. He endured false accusations from the Jews, was brought before Pilate, mocked and ridiculed by Romans soldiers, nailed to a cross, and suffered hours of excruciating pain. He died a cursed death (Deut. 21:23).

What sins did He commit for all this? None!

Amazingly, Jesus did not sacrifice Himself because of His own actions. Rather, He was delivered up for our sins. This was preordained centuries before it happened. The apostle Peter said as such in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost.

[H]im [Jesus], being delivered up by the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by the hand of lawless men, crucified and killed;

Acts 2:23 (Clarification added)

His death was something planned by God long before any of us knew who He was. It was foreknown by the Father according to His will. It was even prophesied about hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth. We learn this from the book of Isaiah.

But he was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought our peace was on him; and by his wounds we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray. Everyone has turned to his own way; and Yahweh has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53:5-6 

In the above, we repeatedly see the connection between Jesus’ sacrifice and our sins, which is not unlike Romans 4:25. In the passage from Isaiah, consequences being applied to Jesus in relation to our sins is shared repeatedly.

  • Pierced for our transgressions
  • Crushed for our iniquities
  • Punishment on Him for our peace
  • His wounds for our healing
  • The inquiry of us all laid on Him

All of these concepts point to the same event. The death of Jesus Christ.

Standing Firm on the Truth of Jesus’ Death

I am highlighting this because none of the blessings of Christ are available outside of His death. The text in Isaiah refers to our transgressions and iniquities. In order for the verses in Isaiah, Acts, and Romans to be true, Jesus had to die for our sins. We need healing and peace, and without Jesus’ death, that is impossible.

Of course, Jesus’ resurrection is also connected with us having these blessings, but I will address that in my next article. Let’s continue to affirm that Jesus did die on the cross. Without the Lord’s sacrifice, there is no way that our trespasses could be resolved before God (at least not before our own deaths).

That last statement may be unusual to hear, but those who reject Jesus’ death need to consider it. When one says that Jesus did not die, then many texts in the Bible are also rejected. I’ve already shared a few of them in this post. A vast array of others could also be listed. There’s also another serious consequence. In order to reject Jesus’ death as a historical event, the words of the apostles Paul and Peter, the prophet Isaiah, and Christ Himself, all have to be viewed with suspicion. In addition to any other Bible authors who make references to Jesus’ death. The end result of all this is simply viewing their words as lies.

Moreover, a person who does so is in the precarious position of needing to pay the penalty for his or her own sins. As I already shared, that penalty is death. Because Jesus provides us the Way to deal with our sins, those of us who believe God need to continue to teach the death and resurrection of Christ. He was the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). He did die, and we must not be ashamed of that fact.

Image Used

A Sculpture of Jesus Hanging From the Cross by Didgeman from Pixabay.