Now that Easter is over and we are all hopefully returning to a more normal eating pattern, I thought I would rewind a little bit . . . back past the resurrection of Jesus . . . past his crucifixion . . . and write about just WHY Jesus had to die.
One could easily assume that Jesus died so he could come back to life and show us what awaits us if we would become his followers. I guess that's partially true. But that is not the main reason Jesus had to die. Sadly, WE, my friends, are the main reason Jesus was nailed to the cross.
If you go back to the book of Genesis and read about what things were like BEFORE anyone took a bite out of that apple, you will find an amazing relationship between God and Adam and Eve. God had made a garden for them ALL to enjoy - The Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:8). If we skip ahead a bit, after the fall, we can get a glimpse of what our relationship was supposed to be like.
"Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day . . ." - Genesis 3:8
God was actually WITH Adam and Eve! God desired to be walking in the garden with us! Whoa?
But then came the fall and all of us, every one of us right down the line, became separated from God - banished from the garden (Genesis 3:22). Still, God loves us and provides for us, just like he did for Adam and Eve by making them clothes to wear (Genesis 3:21). But from that point on man was on a path towards death.
Since that day God has demanded sacrifices for our sins. Pick an Old Testament book like Leviticus, Numbers or Deuteronomy. Those books are filled with instructions for sacrifices - grain sacrifices, wave sacrifices, burnt offerings . . . but the important one for this particular discussion is . . . the sin offering. The sin offering demanded blood. In the Old Testament days, the high priest was instructed to lay his hand upon the head of a bull (representing our sin), and then slay "the sin" before the Lord. Then blood was taken and poured out at the base of the altar (Leviticus 4).
The Israelites were pretty much in a constant state of sin. It must have been frustrating from God's viewpoint. However, God is patient, SO incredibly patient. However, he is NOT tolerant of our sinning against who He is - a holy, righteous God. But we just can't seem to help ourselves.We were born to sin it seems.
But, from the very beginning, God had a plan and His name was (and still is) Jesus.
"There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death." - Proverbs 14:12
These words could not be more true, especially today in the world in which we live. We are SO consumed with our ourselves. Hey, if it feels good, do it! We've gotten to the point where the only opinion that matters about what is right and wrong, is ours. We forget that our "opinion" about right and wrong simply does not matter. It is only God's opinion that does.
Actually, that's not quite true. Wanna know why? Because God does not HAVE an "opinion?" An opinion is defined as "a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge." God is the same - yesterday, today and tomorrow. God never changes. God is always right. And God never lies. He is always just, always tells the truth and He is simply right . . . ALL of the time. There are no OPINIONS about what is right and what is wrong in God's mind. It simply IS right, or it's wrong, to God.
Here's an example of sin that most people are familiar with - the woman caught in adultery. It shows the grace extended by God to the sinners. God loves, God cares, but God is not accepting of our sin.
"Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” - John 8:2-11
The biggest problem with our understanding of this story is that many of us think we can go on sinning because "Jesus will forgive." We tend to forget the last little line from that story where Jesus tells us . . . "Go and sin no more."
I'd like you to read something. It pretty much got MY attention. See if this adds any light to the "Go and sin no more" command given to us by Jesus.
"For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God." - Hebrews 10:26-31
We are all going to sin. We shouldn't, but we will. It's a given. But after reading that passage from Hebrews, it makes me REALLY not want to sin anymore! Read that first line again, slowly.
"If we go on sinning . . . willfully . . . after receiving the knowledge of truth, . . . there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins."
I pray that we might be constantly on guard for all of the temptations offered to us in this sin-filled world. I pray that we might be as forgiving to others as Jesus is to us. And I pray that we would grow beyond the "Adam and Eve" in each of us and embrace the risen Christ, Jesus. He died for us as a sacrifice for OUR sins. Jesus was OUR sin offering - poured out for OUR sins on the cross. So . . . how are we going to deal with that? And what are we going to do about it? Perhaps we should repent and look to Jesus for forgiveness . . . and then . . . pray.