i'm discipling jared, one of the guys in my bible study. one of the things we're doing is going through cj mahaney's book, living the cross centered life, the focus of which is how we as christians need to be keeping the gospel central to… everything. the way we live, the way we interact with God and our friends and family and strangers, the way we act when no one is around, the way we think. the message of the cross should be a the heart of it all.
chapter three covers the reason Christ died on the cross. for those of you who maybe haven't heard before, here's why Christ had to die: the first people God created, adam and eve, were created completely, 100% perfect. they were without sin. long story short, they decided to disobey God, and because of this, sin entered the world. every human being has a sinful nature, instead of a perfect nature. in essence, we are broken creatures.
this disobedience to God requires a punishment, or a payment. there are two things that could satisfy the terms of this punishment: a blameless, perfect sacrifice on our behalves, or an eternity spent in separation from God (read as: eternity in hell). since we all have this sinful nature imparted to us from adam, we cannot fulfill the first option of a perfect sacrifice. in our own power, the only thing we can do is spend eternity in hell. that sucks, but the fact is that it's just. our disobedience requires a payment.
here's the amazing thing: Christ paid that payment for us. He lived a perfect, blameless life, a life that was 100% pleasing to God. and then He died willingly in order to make that payment official. and then he rose from the dead to prove that He was not under the power of death. the cool thing is that Jesus' death on the cross was enough to pay for the sins of every single person who ever lived and will ever live on the earth. this payment, this gift, is just waiting for us to take it. that's what it means to believe in Jesus; it's not simply an acknowledgement of His existence, it's an acceptance of His life and death as the only way to make that payment that was due. it's the only thing that can prevent us from spending eternity in hell.
that's that in a nutshell. that's why Christ had to die – because if He hadn't, there would be no payment, and we would have to go to hell. for eternity.
if any of you have ever seen the passion of the christ, you have a (very) small grasp on the weight of what it meant for Christ to be crucified. it's unimaginable. but when we look to scripture, it's very clear that this is exactly what was intended from before time began. Christ knew exactly what would happen, and God sent His Son to earth specifically for that purpose. isaiah 53:10 tells us that "the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief."
but why? why would He do something like that?
cj maheney puts it beautifully:
"who killed Jesus? God did. God the Father was ultimately responsible for the death of His Son. God is telling us, 'I purposefully determined to crush My Son with My wrath–for your sins, as your substitute. why? because I love you.'
when you're tempted to doubt God's love for you, stand before the cross and look at the wounded, dying, disfigured Savior, and realize why He is there. i believe His Father would whisper to us, 'isn't that sufficient? I haven't spared My own Son; I deformed and disfigured and crushed Him–for you. What more could I do to persuade you that I love you?' "
what a powerful, beautiful truth. God loves us so much, that He gave His one and only Son, so that whoever might believe in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. it's crazy! and yet it's true.
oh, how He loves us.