In the previous page, we studied who Jesus is. The conclusion was, if you want to know, start by doing what He says, and you will know the Truth! Not only the truth about Him, but the truth about YOU too. And that truth will set you free (John 8:32). Free from a meaningless life, a life of conformity, a life of insanity… In case you didn’t know, you have been going around carrying a burden that Jesus wants to lift (Matt 11:28-30). He said some amazing things… He said that He didn’t come to judge but to save the world (John 12:47). What’s more, He also said: “I came that they might have life, and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). So what did He do to make this possible?
The whole time Jesus ministered on the Earth, He talked about being sent from Heaven, from the Father. He preached about a mission. He revealed that His mission was to save the world. But He was laughed at and ridiculed. They certainly didn’t think they needed saving! Maybe a better economic situation. For the Jews, they would have liked a deliverence from the rule of the Romans. In terms of salvation, they had their holy book, and most of them felt confident that they were practicing it to the letter and were assured of paradise.
What made it even more laughable, was that He talked of dying to save a whole world! And not only dying, being murdered by His own people. Some might say this was a man filled with delusions of grandeur. How could He place so much importance on His death? Most of the time, they couldn’t be bothered about His sayings… But there was something in the way that He spoke that kept them intrigued (Mark 1:22). He was too wise to be insane. He was too kind to be self-obsessed. And then, there were the miracles which He performed, which kept crowds flocking to meet Him wherever He went. So, as much as the authourities wanted to ignore Him, they just couldn’t. And worse still, they couldn’t stop Him from talking…though they tried a few times (John 10:39).
The times that He escaped from their hands was in His control. He knew that eventually, He would submit to them and let them do to Him what was written concerning Him (Isaiah 53:3-5). He knew that He would be killed for the things He said. He would often escape to the mountain, or quiet places to pray by Himself. Even when He sought the men who would follow Him as His disciples, He prayed to God first (Luke 6:12-13). In everything He did and said, He was led by God. But when it came to dying, He still had the power to choose to escape it (John 10:18). Even in the last hour, He prayed to God for strength to carry the burden (Mark 14:36).
Imagine, the King of kings came down to Earth, a humble poor man, running from the authorities and religious leaders, and ready to die a disgraceful death on a wooden cross! Why would anyone in their right mind choose that destiny for himself? Why did God even ask such a thing from His ONLY beloved Son? It doesn’t make sense to us. Jesus said it was for love (John 3:16). God wanted to redeem the world that would have been eternally separated from Him. He broke fellowship with His beloved Son, so that He can have more sons and daughters (John 1:12). Jesus also loved us and wanted us in His royal family. He said that His kind of love, the kind that dies for another person, is the greatest of all (John 15:13).
Still, you might wonder – what type of sacrifice is this? Why couldn’t God just forgive the world, and save us without someone dying. First, God is a God of order and justice. He is also a jealous God, who considers anything we place ahead of Him in our lives as idols (not merely things we make with our hands). We were made to worship Him alone, and He desires to complete us; but we have sought other things for completion. Apart from this, we have become so evil that we kill, rape, steal and destroy one another, and left to our own devices, not a single one of us would survive, for the sheer wickedness of the world. We are all plagued by this wickedness, and until we are re-programmed and returned to soundness of mind, we can have no fellowship with Him. For these sins (or crimes) we deserve death. Some people are visited with immediate damnation, some are given warnings, yet others enjoy a relationship with Him. God deals with each person and case according to His mercy.
God, in His mercy, had chosen the Isrealities to be a special people, to testify to the world of Him. He held them to a higher standard, because He dwelt among them, and lead and delivered them from their enemies. They were commanded to sacrifice a spotless lamb for their sins. But this purification was needful every year! Even still, God saw that it made no change in their hearts, because it became ritualistic. They would continue doing what they shouldn’t, and then bring a lamb to sacrifice afterwards. Or even worse, they couldn’t even be bothered to fulfil this ritual and would rather go and worship other gods and do whatever pleased them, until God would visit them enmass in judgment.
So God saw that if He wanted to put an end to this rebellion, and actually save a select people for Himself, He would have to make a different allowance, a new way – a new covenant. He decided to do away with the old way of sacrificing lambs (which was very close to what the idolators practiced, and made little distinction of the true worship God deserves). So, He planned to send a Messiah, a spotless (sinless) sacrifice. And there was none other but Himself to send (Rev 5:2-10). He revealed the coming of the Messiah to the prophets, who testified of the coming salvation (Luke 2:30-31, 24:44).
The Messiah was likened to the ‘fiery serpant’ of brass, which God asked Moses to make and put on a pole, so that the Isrealites who had been beaten by snakes could look up to it and be saved (Num 21:8-9, John 3:14). In the same way, the Messiah or Christ would be raised up for men to look upon and be saved. Rather than just forgiving men without showing them the price of their sins, or even what real love is, God chose a method that illustrated His justice as well as His mercy! This is why someone had to die, and it had to be Jesus, because there was none righteous who could be raised up as an example for men to imitate (Rom 3:10) – and there was none else, with such great love for us to make that sacrifice.
That is what Jesus did for you and for me. He spilt His blood, allowed Himself to be humbled, humiliated, beaten and broken, and even faced separation from the Father (by bearing on Himself the sins of the world, which He abhored), so that for that horrible intense moment of conquering evil, He would redeem us from the pain of eternal death. Now we can be free from the clutches of sin, and serve Him, as we were created to do. He broke the power of the enemy over you and me. That power only works when we look upon Him as our Lord, and accept His atonement for our sins, as our Saviour (Rom 10:9). Knowing what He did for us should make us want to live to please Him, and even still; He adds, to those who believe, the grace to obey and abide in His love.
So, that bad habit you’re fighting to kick, Jesus has won the victory over it! Accept His sacrifice, and let Him make you new, and you will see just how powerful His love is. The Bible says that if we want to be saved, we must first realise that we need saving (confess our sinfulness), ask for forgiveness, receive it (believe you have been forgiven) and act on it, by repenting (don’t do it again, relying on a daily walk with God to help you). You can do it wherever you are today. Jesus loves you and is waiting for YOU.
To continue on this theme, please read THE POWER OF THE CROSS