In addition to the plan for man individually, the dying is to produce the same result in the Jewish nation. There is to be a national new-birth. A new Jewish people. And then the dying is to have a tremendous influence upon all men. On the cross Jesus would suffer the birth-pains of a new life for man and for the world. Such, in brief, seems to be the grouping of Jesus’ own thought about His dying. Its whole influence is manward.
The value of Jesus’ dying lies wholly in its being voluntary. Of deliberate purpose He allowed them to put Him to death. Otherwise they could not, as is fully proven by their repeated failures. And the purpose as well as the value of the death lies entirely in His motive in yielding. If they could have taken His life without His consent, then that death would have been an expression of their hate, and only that. But as it is, it forever stands an expression of two things. On their part of the intensest, hottest hate; on His part of the finest, strongest love. It makes new records for both hate and love. Sin put Jesus to death. In yielding to these men Jesus was yielding to sin, for they personified sin. And sin yielded to quickly brought death, its logical outcome.
Jesus’ dying being His own act, controlled entirely by His own intention, makes it sacrificial. There are certain necessary elements in such a sacrifice. It must be voluntary. It must involve pain or suffering of some sort. The suffering must be undeserved, that is, in no way or degree a result of one’s own act, else it is not sacrifice, but logical result. It must be for others. And the suffering must be of a sort that would not come save for this voluntary act. It must be supposed to bring benefit to the others. Each of these elements must be in to make up fully a sacrifice. There are elements of sacrifice in much noble suffering by man. But in no one do all of these elements perfectly combine and blend, save in Jesus.
To this agree the words of the philosopher of the New Testament writers. It would be so, of course, for the Spirit of Jesus swayed Paul. The epistle to the Romans contains a brief packed summary of his understanding of the gospel plan. There is in it one remarkable statement of the Father’s, purpose in Jesus’ death. In the third chapter, verse twenty-six, freely translated, “that He might be reckoned righteous in reckoning righteous the man who has faith.” “That He might be reckoned righteous”—that is, in His attitude toward sin. That in allowing things to go on as they were, in holding back sin’s logical judgment, He was not careless or indifferent about sin or making light of it. He was controlled by a great purpose.