The ultimate sacrifice
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
“Christ died for our sins according to the Scripture.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
Ever since our ancestors – Adam and Eve - lost their place in the Garden of Eden, away from God’s presence, it has been an unending search by humans to re-establish contact with the Creator - all in a bid to regain our initial position. While God did not sever all links, He decided to deal strictly with men of His choosing and communicated solely through them.He ceased to talk openly to His creation and channelled specific instructions and revelations through His prophets – worthy men of integrity and in right-standing with Him. God has revealed a lot through His prophets, but today He has sent his beloved Son – Jesus. (Hebrews 1:1-2).
In the Garden, God had cursed Satan and warned; “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his feet.” (Genesis 3:15) That offspring of the woman was none other than our Lord Jesus – born of a woman. Satan would have the ‘Sent-One’ nailed to a tree but his power to do evil would be destroyed.
At Easter, that battle over sin and death was fought and settled at the cross once and for all. As the Messiah gasped His last, He declared: “It is finished.” (John 19:30) Henceforth, humanity at large would have access to “…my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” (John 20:17)
When sin was introduced into the world, it equally brought death at its heels. The Bible teaches that “The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 3:23) The estranged relationship between God and His creation had to be repaired, and God was going to make the first move. It hurt the God of love so badly that humanity, the object of His first love, could be separated from Him. He was bent on doing all in His power to restore the situation to normal.
The reconciliation process was demanding in that no human being could pay the penalty. The sin ‘bug’ had taken root and nothing of his adamic nature was worth salvaging. Humanity was a wreck. Thus, for humanity to be reconciled with God, God Himself had to step in. He then elected to send His only Son - who knew no sin - to the rescue.
The cross was intended to address and settle a multitude of things and forever bridge the gap between God and His treasured possession - humanity. Our Lord Jesus, the sole mediator between God and Man, would take on this role willingly and not by any obligation. By consenting to die on the cross that shameful death, He resolved head-on the age-old problem that had separated God and humanity.
This gesture demonstrates his unconditional love. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10) Jesus did not only reconcile God and humanity but He also made reparations for us. By His sacrifice He appeased God on our behalf. God was fully satisfied and pleased by what His Son accomplished.
At the cross, we were justified in God’s eyes. “He was delivered to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” (Romans 4:25)
“He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for our sins but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2) Being justified means that once we were guilty but now we are guiltless. By His death on the cross, God has wiped out, erased all our sins and declared us ‘not guilty.’
“…and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Hebrews 10:18) In Old Testament times the blood of animals was shed to atone for the sins humanity had committed. That action merely foreshadowed what the Lamb of God would do. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) Jesus intervened that we might be forgiven.
It follows therefore that if our Lord Jesus has paid for our sins then we have been set free. We are no longer condemned. We are free indeed. To enjoy this freedom means we have accepted the finished work of the Lord on the cross of Calvary. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)
To some of us this might look so simple. How could we be reconciled, forgiven and set free without any contribution on our part. Well, that is exactly the way God had planned it. It is a finished product that we are being offered. God requires no participation on our part. All He asks of us is to accept the offer being made. Yes, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Jesus’ death on the cross brought us healing also. “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24) The thirty-six odd stripes He received when the Roman soldiers flogged Him, cover and represent all the sicknesses that Satan can afflict our bodies with. Our Lord bore all of them for our sakes so that we should suffer no longer. That also has been paid for; we only need to claim our healing in Jesus Christ.
To redeem means to buy back, to pay the penalty of. We “… are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3.24) Humanity, lured by the evil one, sold itself to sin at the Garden of Eden. At Golgotha, God cancelled the penalty by paying dearly with the life of His Son.
The package God is offering to you through His Son is fraught with multiple benefits. Through His crucifixion, our Lord Jesus has reconciled us with God, redeemed us from the penalty we had to pay, atoned for our sins, justified us and set us free all at once.
You wouldn’t turn your back on all of that, would you?
Author: Galandou Gorre-Ndiaye