As we prepare our hearts for Easter let us consider why the sacrifice of Christ was necessary. I marvel at the cohesive message given in both Old and New Testaments.
As far back as Deuteronomy (21:22-23), hanging on a tree was a shameful thing. There the punishment differed from actual death on a tree…the already dead body would be exposed to shame and ridicule, for all to see. Interesting, isn’t it, how centuries later Jesus was put to death in this most shameful way?
In his letter to the Galatian church the Apostle Paul points out what will happen to those who do not keep the law perfectly. James tells us that those who sin in one point are guilty of all (James 2:10). Of course you and I will not likely commit murder, nor will we break other of the Ten Commandments, but how often do we think we get away with just a little coveting? Or – heaven forbid, what about slandering a neighbour? Do we worship at the shrine of health or wealth? These could cost us eternity in heaven, but for the redemption Christ purchased by His ignominious death.
His death was the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:3: “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you”. We might note that Paul, quoting from Moses’ writings, declared Abraham righteous by his faith. Galatians 3:6 “He believed God and it was credited to him for righteousness”.
Martin Luther discovered “The righteous will live by faith!” This glorious discovery which set Luther’s spirit free from so many laws that bound him, changed his whole life! But it cost. He was persecuted for his very faith.
He wanted others to understand that “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). The Old Testament message of God’s love is consistent with the New, because love is the essence of our heavenly Father’s being. Moses wrote about how God in His unfailing love would redeem His people (Exodus 15:13). That love could last through 1,000 generations, conditioned on the obedient, love responses of His children (Deuteronomy 5:10).
John tells us that those who received Him, believing in Jesus’ name, to them [the Father] gives the right to be called children of God (John 1:12). That’s faith isn’t it?
Many of us are familiar with Lamentations 3:22 “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed for His compassions never fail – they are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness”!
The great love chapter of the Bible is really 1 John 4. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (:10). “We love Him because He first loved us” (:19). The apostle John knew Jesus personally. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear” (:18). His experience taught him that the sign of being called the children of God came from the great love the Father lavishes on us (John 3:1)! But it cost.
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13).
Are you trying hard to be a good person? How far will that get you?
How effective is Jesus’ redemption? To whom does it apply? (John 1:12)
by Marilyn Daniels