May 5, 2011, 3:45 PM
“Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds are evil.”(John 3:19)
When God sent his Son into the world it was to redeem humankind from the consequences of Adam’s sin. Adam had disobeyed God by eating from ‘the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.’ It is clear that whenever we break the law, there is a penalty to be paid. In Adam’s case, that penalty was death – meaning separation from God. Adam lost his status as a close collaborator with God to the extent that he was disowned and sent out of the Garden of Eden.
Adam did not die physically but he lost touch with his Maker, God. Only another Adam could buy back from Satan what had been stolen from the first Adam. The reason why God sent his Son therefore, was to reconcile with humankind and restore the broken relationship. By doing so, God manifested his love for his creation. “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)
By orchestrating the rejection of God’s Sent-One, Satan sought to frustrate God’s plan for humanity. His intention was to put a spanner in God’s wheel but even that could not have deterred God’s plan of salvation. God sent his Son to die a gruesome death on the cross for the whole world to see – high on Calvary’s hill. The penalty of the first Adam’s sin fell on Jesus’ head; his rejection culminated in his crucifixion.
His disciples were saddened by the thought that he was going to die after he had warned them: “You will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.” (John 16:20) His rejection had brought them much pain, but he was assuring them that all will be well. He would overcome it all. That his kingdom was collapsing in their very eyes was far from comforting. All their investment, it seemed, was being thrust down the drain.
For Jesus, what mattered was that his mission on earth had been accomplished. He confirmed to his Father: “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.” (John 17:4) The Son’s death was an expression of love for the world – a world that hated him nevertheless. “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
The world hated the Messiah and therefore hated the One who sent him. Addressing his disciples a few days to his crucifixion, amidst great mental suffering, he reminded them: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” (John 15:18) “He who hates me hates my Father as well….but this is to fulfil what was written in the Law: ‘They hated me without reason.” (verses 23,24)
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you…(Matthew 23:37)
“For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘he has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, friend of tax collectors and “sinners.” ’ (Matthew 11:18-19) The world will seek to bring you down and deride you.
There is no force on earth that could have stopped God from executing his plan; therefore all the obstacles only helped in its realisation. “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering…He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:9)
“Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and …. make his life a guilt offering...” (Isaiah 53:10)
‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’ and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfilment.” (Luke 22:37)
With increased hostility from his enemies, Jesus had moved out of Jerusalem to operate in the nearby towns. But as it was getting closer to his crucifixion he told them: “We are going to Jerusalem and the Son of Man (speaking of himself) will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. Thy will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise again.” (Mark 10:33) These events fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy that he would be treated like a criminal and be hung on a cross to die.
The Jews rejected the Light of the world who had come to save humanity from sin and ultimate destruction. Their intention was to reverse all Jesus stood for and prevent him from accomplishing his goal. As he gasped his last on the cross, he exclaimed: “It is finished!” Indeed, the purpose of Christ’s mission was fulfilled on the cross to which his enemies had nailed him. Born to die, he persevered to the end in spite of the beatings, lashings, scoffing, spitting, mockery and humiliation he suffered for our sake.
The hymn writer renders it thus: ‘He died that we might be forgiven; he died to save us all. That we might go at last to heaven, saved by his precious blood.’ Yes, he suffered in our place that we may live.
The Bible teaches that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” of sin. (Hebrews 9:22) Blood had to wash Adam’s sin away and God had declared in the Garden of Eden how; “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 heel.” (Genesis 3:15) Satan (the offspring of the serpent) and Jesus (the offspring of the woman) had an encounter at the cross and Satan’s head was crushed as he bruised Jesus’ heels (when he was nailed to the cross). There our ‘sin-debt’ was paid in full.
At the start of his ministry, Jesus was walking towards John the Baptist to be baptised, he prophesied: “Look the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) That Lamb was “rejected by men but chosen by God.” (1 Peter 2:4) Today, he is elevated by the Father and is seated at his right hand. Glory!