Despite the astounding miracle of Christ’s incarnation, His profound teaching, and the miracles He performed, these are not the central focus of Christ’s life. Instead, what dominates the thinking of Jesus is the giving of His life. As miraculous as His birth and ministry were, the great mission of Christ’s life was His death.1
In the four Gospels, we find Jesus endeavoring to prepare His disciples for His coming death. However, their devotion to Jesus, coupled with their hope for a political Messiah, prevented them from grasping what Jesus was telling them.
The evening before He died, Jesus celebrated a Passover meal with His disciples. He then gave instructions that this event should be observed until He returned again. This ordinance of Communion, instituted by the Lord Himself—and the only commemorative act He personally authorized—is not a memorial of His incarnation, nor His miracles, nor His parables, nor His preaching, but only of His death. Christ Himself wished above all else to be remembered by His death.
In fact, in the four Gospel accounts of the Messiah’s life, the events surrounding and including the crucifixion carry the major emphasis. The staggering miracle of the Incarnation is mentioned only by Matthew and Luke. Only two chapters in each of their Gospels record Christ’s conception and birth. Mark and John omit any comment on Christ’s birth at all and begin their Gospels with Jesus as an adult.
All four Gospel writers, however, determinedly emphasize the last week of Christ’s life and, of course, His death. Glance through them and notice this pointed focus on just a few days of Christ’s life. The last week of Jesus’ life, leading up to and including His death, takes up from one-third to almost a half of all gospel accounts. Each reader is “forced” to rivet attention on the great redeeming act of God.
Look at your life, your past, your mistakes, your sins. Do you honestly think anything you have done, or could do, could ever atone for them? Why, then, should the death of Jesus on your behalf be the central focus of your life? What hope would you have without it?