My oldest son and I have been watching Mankind: The Story of All of Us on the History Channel. The last segment that we watched introduced Jesus. “His death gives birth to a global religion.”
It is amazing. His death gave birth to a global religion.
I remember being a little girl and learning the story of the crucifixion for the first time. I remember seeing a picture of Jesus hanging on the cross. I remember, as a child, thinking I already know the ending to this story. Those people are going to be sorry they did that to Jesus. He’s going to show them. I braced myself for earthquakes and lightning bolts. Then I sat stunned when I got to the part about him actually dying. That was not the ending I expected.
Why would he let those people kill him when he didn’t have to?
I had no idea how huge the answer to that question was. And I wrestled with it for the next 30 years of my life. Why did Jesus have to die?
I know this much, I sinned, a lot, against a God who did nothing but love me. He created me for fellowship with the divine. And at some point I decided to say “NO!” I rejected his fellowship. I rejected his love. I rejected his outstretched hand of forgiveness.
For that, I deserved to die. You may not think so. But I think we cut ourselves too many undeserved breaks. We think we were owed that indulgence. We ask, “Who did it hurt?” Only the “big sins” deserve death like murder or rape, or molesting children.
But the real truth is, “The person who sins will die” (Ezk. 18:20). It was that way from the beginning. Adam and Eve had to die. And on through history, right down to me. We all have to face the judgement of death for our sins. And God has the right to execute that sentence at his demand.
Breaking the laws of the God of the universe requires a penalty of death. Sometimes that doesn’t make sense to us. We think that’s not fair. God must be a big jerk for making those kind of rules. But think about this:
God is the only being who is good, and the standards are set by Him. Because God hates sin, He has to punish those guilty of sin. Maybe that’s not an appealing standard. But to put it bluntly, when you get your own universe, you can make your own standards. – Francis Chan
Here is where God gets crazy, for centuries he let his people off the hook by letting them substitute an animal life for their own. I’m not sure how many mortals would offer the same. Time and again, the parents of murdered children speak out demanding that their child killers be brought to justice. They often cry out for the death penalty. How would those parents feel if the judge said, “We found your child’s killer. We have convicted them. But we are going to allow this lamb to be slain instead.” The parents, family and community would be outraged. But that is essentially what God offered to his people from the beginning of disobedience.
A capital crime was committed. A judgement of guilty declared. The sentence of death handed down. And when it came time for the head of the guilty to go on the chopping block, God said, “You can use a lamb.”
For the life of the body is in its blood. I have given you the blood on the altar to purify you, making you right with the Lord. It is the blood, given in exchange for a life, that makes purification possible. Lev. 17:11
But God gets even crazier:
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29
Our creator stepped in and laid down HIS life for the people HE made who rebelled against HIM. It’s like a mother taking a spanking for her disobedient child. Or even more, the parents of a murdered child offering their own life for the guilty. Who does that?
God does that. He knows my sin. He knows my guilt. He knows every dark, black thought of my heart. And he said, “I will erase it with my blood.”
No wonder that man started a global religion. No other “god” even makes the claim to do something like that.
Tomorrows I want to talk about my hearts response to the ultimate sacrifice. See you then.