The Story#4: Jesus Conquers Sin and DeathSeries: The Story: A Big Picture View
Israel and Judah rebelliously broke their covenant with God, so God deserted them. But God promised to make a new, different covenant with his people in the future. Though his people had hearts hardened by sin, God promised to forgive past sins and write his law on their new, fleshy hearts. Isaiah 52:13-53:12 prophesied that this forgiveness would come through the death of God’s chosen, Spirit-anointed servant. In this lesson we will read from Matthew. Matthew records the good news about Jesus Christ - God’s chosen servant to bring salvation to the ends of the earth. Notice Matthew 1:17-25.
Jesus Is the Son of God (Matthew 1:17-25)
Matthew 1:17–25, “17 So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations. 18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.”
What does this passage teach about Jesus’ identity? This passage identifies Jesus as the Christ (i.e., the Messiah, the anointed one). Jesus is also identified as the offspring of Abraham and of King David. God promised to bless the whole world in Abraham and to set one of David’s descendants on his throne forever (Genesis 12:1-3; 2 Samuel 7:12-17). Jesus is the fulfillment of these promises. Most importantly, Jesus is from the Holy Spirit. Colossians 1:16 says all things were created by Jesus. Jesus is deity in the flesh, so he would be called “Immanuel.” This means “God is with us.” God had left his people, but through Jesus Christ, the Son of God, God was with his people again.
Jesus Is Perfect against Temptation (Matthew 4:1-11)
Matthew 4:1–11, “1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’ 4 But he answered, ‘It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ‘ 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’ ‘ 7 Jesus said to him, ‘Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ‘ 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.’ 10 Then Jesus said to him, ‘Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’ ‘ 11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.”
What do you learn about Jesus from his battle against Satan? Jesus is impervious to Satan’s deception and is a contrast to Adam and Eve and to Israel. Adam and Eve had many blessings in Eden, but did not resist Satan’s temptation to eat the forbidden fruit. Israel ate manna in the desert for 40 years, yet refused to listen to God. Jesus fasted in a desert for 40 days, saw God’s word as his food, and defeated Satan. God’s word is how Jesus overcame Satan. Jesus embodies God’s desire for us: he is born of God’s Spirit and has God’s word on his heart. We can defeat Satan too if we will meditate on God’s word, allowing God to write his law on our hearts and to control our lives.
Jesus Shows Mercy to Sinners (Matthew 9:9-13)
Matthew 9:9–13, “9 As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he rose and followed him. 10 And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ 12 But when he heard it, he said, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.’”
What does this account teach you about Jesus? This passage displays Jesus’ mercy for sinners. Jews hated tax collectors because they worked for the Roman Empire and were often dishonest. The Pharisees considered themselves to be righteous and they never associated with known sinners. By contrast, Jesus chose a tax collector to be his apostle and ate with tax collectors and sinners. Jesus does not call the righteous because he cannot heal those who think they are healthy. Jesus seeks out sinners because they need a physician and know it. We must have this humility to follow Jesus. The Jewish religious leaders lacked this humility and were afraid that Jesus would cause them to lose their influence, so they did not believe in Jesus and began seeking an opportunity to kill him. Jesus began to warn his followers that he would be killed and that he would rise from the dead after three days, but they did not understand. Judas, one of Jesus’ twelve apostles, betrayed Jesus to the chief priests for thirty pieces of silver. Jesus was arrested, deserted by his disciples, maliciously accused by the religious leaders, and sent to Pilate the governor to be questioned and killed.
Jesus Is Crucified to Conquer Sin (Matthew 27:11-56)
11 Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ Jesus said, ‘You have said so.’ 12 But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate said to him, ‘Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?’ 14 But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.
15 Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. 16 And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. 17 So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, ‘Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?’ 18 For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. 19 Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, ‘Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.’ 20 Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. 21 The governor again said to them, ‘Which of the two do you want me to release for you?’ And they said, ‘Barabbas.’ 22 Pilate said to them, ‘Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?’ They all said, ‘Let him be crucified!’ 23 And he said, ‘Why, what evil has he done?’ But they shouted all the more, ‘Let him be crucified!’
24 So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.’ 25 And all the people answered, ‘His blood be on us and on our children!’ 26 Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.
27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. 28 And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ 30 And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. 31 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.
32 As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross. 33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), 34 they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. 35 And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. 36 Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. 37 And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, ‘This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.’ 38 Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. 39 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, ‘You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.’ 41 So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, 42 ‘He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ‘ 44 And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.
45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ 47 And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, ‘This man is calling Elijah.’ 48 And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. 49 But the others said, ‘Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him’ 50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.
51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 54 When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, ‘Truly this was the Son of God!’
55 There were also many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him, 56 among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.”
Israel offered animal sacrifices to atone for sin, but this was not a lasting solution, for the blood of animals cannot take away sins (Hebrews 10:4). But Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). Jesus was innocent as Isaiah prophesied, but he let them beat, pierce, and lift him up. He allowed this because he loves us. Philippians 2:6–8, “6 … though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Jesus Rose to Conquer Death (Matthew 27:57-28:15)
Matthew 27:57–28:15, “57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. 58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59 And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.
62 The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63 and said, ‘Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 64 Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.’ 65 Pilate said to them, ‘You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.’ 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.
28:1 Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.’ 8 So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 And behold, Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.’
11 While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. 12 And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers 13 and said, ‘Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.’ 15 So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.”
Isaiah prophesied that Jesus’ days would be prolonged. Anybody can die, but resurrection requires the power of God. The Jews tried to coverup Jesus’ resurrection, but their lie is recorded here. Jesus died to take away our sins, but he rose from death so we would not have to be controlled by fear of the grave. Jesus is only the firstfruits of the resurrection the Father has planned for all his children who have tasted death (1 Corinthians 15:20-23). Philippians 2:9–11, “9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Jesus Tells Disciples to Make Disciples (Matthew 28:16-20)
Matthew 27:57–28:15, “16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”
What did Jesus command his disciples to do in this passage? Jesus commanded his disciples to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey Jesus. Though this great commission was and is dangerous to obey, Jesus promises to always be with his disciples. But the story continues. God had promised to pour out his Spirit so his life-giving presence could dwell among and sanctify his people again. John the Baptizer pointed both to this restoration and to a coming judgment when he said Jesus would baptize “with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11). In the next lesson we will turn to Acts 2 to see salvation offered as prophecies of the Spirit and of fiery judgment come back into play.