March 6, 2019
We start with a fundamental question: Why did Jesus have to die? The simple Biblical answer to this: He died for us. John 1:29 communicates this, “Behold, the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world!” Jesus has only one purpose, that is to die in our place so that we will be justified in front of God.
When we talk about Jesus’ death and eventual resurrection we cannot avoid talking about the law. For it is in the transgression of the law that we are condemned and where Christ becomes of utmost important. The law originally was set up so that the Israelite people would be able to have a right relationship with a holy God. God provided the law as good news, not as bad news. The problem is that the law became bad news as it was impossible to follow and fulfill for the everyday first century Jewish person. When the law was transgressed there needed to be an atonement for the sin. This is where the priesthood entered. The priesthood offered sacrifice to God for the transgression of the law (this is seen clearly in Leviticus 4:27-31). As a result of this, people were forgiven. We, like the Israelites, have broken the law. We owe a debt to God; we need forgiveness.
What we need to comprehend is that we are unable to pay this debt. Psalm 49:7-9 lays this out for us: “No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them - the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough – so that they should live on forever and not see decay.” We need a priest, like the Israelites to bring atonement for our sins. The good news is that Jesus pays our debt and our righteousness come only from Christ. This is spelled out in Romans 3:18-24. Jesus operates as a priest as well as a sacrifice for us. As He died on the cross He was sacrificed for us. Jesus pays the debt. And this payment is once and for all as articulated in Hebrews 9:11-28.
The summary of the situation is this: We are the reason for Christ’s death. Isaiah 53:4-5 makes this clear: “Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering . . . “ As we work our way through this Lenten season let us reflect on this truth.