The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ wasn't simply an end to His ministry, but the sole purpose for which He was born — to fulfill God's Divine plan to redeem humanity, says California-based Harvest Christian Fellowship Pastor Greg Laurie.
In a daily devotional posted on his website Saturday, Laurie says he once asked the Rev. Billy Graham, "Are there any truths you find yourself emphasizing more or less now than you did when you were a younger preacher?"
In his response, the world-renowned evangelist and founder of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association said he focuses on the message of the Cross and the blood [of Jesus], because "that's where the power is."
To illustrate how Jesus' crucifixion was part of God's revealed plan, Laurie cities scriptures from both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.
Jesus' death, Laurie says, was first mentioned at the beginning of the Bible, in the book of Genesis.
"After Satan led Eve and Adam into sin," says Laurie, "God brought His judgment upon him and said, speaking of the One that would come, 'He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel'" (Genesis 3:15). Laurie explains that this is the first Messianic scripture and passage that points to the coming of Christ.
He then cites the book of Exodus which signaled the crucifixion of Christ. He recounted how the Israelites were instructed to sacrifice a lamb and paint its blood across the tops and sides of their doorposts. The wrath of God would then pass over them, foreshadowing the blood that Jesus would shed as the ultimate sacrificial lamb that would cover the sins of man.
The prophet Isaiah also describes the method of Jesus' death and His sacrifice for humanity's sins.
"But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed" (Isaiah 53:5).
"In the New Testament we see it reinforced again and again that Jesus was coming to die," Laurie says, quoting from Luke 9:30–31. "When He was there at the Mount of Transfiguration with Moses and Elijah, the Bible tells us that the subject of their discussion was His impending death."
Jesus, Laurie explains, was the final sacrifice to bridge the gap for humanity.
In Laurie's 2016 book, Tell Someone, he encourages Christians to evangelize by sharing their testimony with non-believers and to find common ground with people by opening up about how He transformed their lives.
"They may be surprised that you weren't always the way that you are now as a Christian — that you didn't always believe what you now believe," Laurie says. "You are showing them how and why you changed your direction in life — how and why you became a follower of Jesus Christ. ...
"Just tell your story! Every testimony of an individual deciding to follow Christ is valid, because there is someone out there a lot like you."