I have been on Facebook for a little over two years. Some of my experience has been interesting, and some of it frustrating. One such conflicting experience has been in a religious debate site.
That site has been a challenging source of conversation. One thing I see again and again is the comment that “God could never become one of us, in fact, if He is God, He would never become one of us.” In addition they claim that if God wanted to forgive sin, He would just do that; He would never, ever, make His Son suffer for our sin.
I think that as we prepare to celebrate Christ’s resurrection on Easter, it is good to consider why He had to die in the first place.
Many people believe that Jesus didn’t have to die. They believe that He came to be our example of how to live, but that mean-hearted people convinced Pilate to crucify Jesus.
Others believe that, although Jesus had to die and rise again to open the door for salvation, they need to do religious work in order to gain eternal glory. In other words, they believe Jesus did what He alone could do, but now we must do the rest if we want to enter eternal glory.
The Bible teaches a much different truth. The Bible teaches that Jesus had to die for us; in fact, He was born with the express purpose of going to the cross on our behalf. The question is: “Why?” Why did He have to be born as one of us, and why did He have to die? Why can’t we deal with our sin ourselves?
The Bible is very clear that sin must be dealt with by God, and He must deal with it with integrity. In other words, He can’t ignore it, and He can’t deal with it in part. It is all or nothing.
I believe that our problem with sin is that we don’t see it as God does. We generally see sin as something we do against another person. If I lie to you, or if I steal from you, I know that is sin. But it doesn’t seem that bad; certainly not bad enough to keep me out of God’s presence.
But in reality our sins are really against God. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, David pointed to this in Psalm 51:4. All sin is ultimately against God. God is the One who sets the standards of existence, so to break any of God’s laws is an offense against God.
So what, you ask? The problem is that we fail to perceive the Holiness and Righteousness of our infinite God. For you to sin against God’s creation is not good, and for you to sin against me may be bad, but the depth of heinousness involved in sinning against an infinitely Holy and Righteous God is infinitely beyond our ability to comprehend.
How can we deal with that? How can we possibly atone for or rectify that? We can’t. Not ever! I can never remove my own sin, let alone remove your sin. No one can because we are all hopelessly bankrupt in sin. Therefore, I would carry that sin forever, and God cannot allow sin into His Kingdom.
There is only one person in all of existence who is without sin, and therefore is the only person who can remove sin. That person is God.
This is an interesting situation. God is the only One who can rightfully judge sin, and He will, but God is also the only One who can remove sin. But why should He?
The answer is found in the most well known Bible verse: John 3:16. “God so loved the world…” The world is those who are lost. God so loves the lost, the whole human race, that He sent His Son to deal with the judgment of sin. Not to judge us sinners, but to take our judgment on Himself so that our sin that separates us from God could be removed.
To do that legitimately and justly — God is a just God — He had to be born as one of us, or it would be a sham. Since He was born as one of us meant that He could die. That is important because the wages of sin is death.
As I mentioned, God is Just. Since the judgment of sin leads to punishment, and since a consequence of sin is death, then our punishment had to be placed on Jesus on the cross. He volunteered to be our substitute, and that also meant He had to die.
That brings us to the Resurrection. Jesus took the punishment for our sin, even to the point of dying, but Jesus Himself never sinned. Why is that important? Since Jesus never sinned, death had no legitimate claim on Him; death could not hold Him. Jesus was in the grave three days, and then He victoriously rose from the dead.
What an eternally glorious, victorious day. The enemies of the human race, sin and death, had been defeated just as God said they would back in the Garden of Eden as recorded in Genesis 3:15. God had a plan to bring about eternal life for us that was realized at the resurrection of our Lord and Savior.
Although the gift of forgiveness and eternal life is free, you must choose to receive it; God will not force it on you. Jesus makes it clear we must be willing to repent of sin, and that we must believe that He alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Faith in Him alone is the only way to be united with the Father. I pray you believe that, and will act on that belief today.
Jon McCartney is pastor of First Baptist Church of Tooele.