By: Gary L. Hutchens
After the first man and woman sinned and brought upon humanity the curse of sin, God prophesied that He would send His Son into the world to pay the price for the guilt of our sins (Gen. 3:15). The rest of the Old Testament points to the coming Savior. The four gospel accounts tell about the ministry of Jesus Christ while He was on this earth. The rest of the New Testament refers to His having brought the gospel message of salvation, His dying on the cross as the perfect sacrifice, and then points forward to the day He will come again to judge all mankind.
There is no greater example of God’s grace than His sending Jesus to the cross to die on our behalf. To die for someone is certainly a sobering thought. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.” (Jn. 15:13). In making statement He assured the apostles of His love for them. That was the night of His betrayal. He knew He would be hanging on the cross the very next day.
But the apostle Paul emphasized that it was not just for His friends that Jesus died on that cross. Paul noted, “scarcely for a righteous man will one die…” It would be unusual, stretching the boundaries of grace, to offer one’s life for the best of men. He further stated, “perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.” Maybe, in a rare circumstance, someone might be motivated to die for a good man. But then Paul described the grace of God by stating, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:7-8).
When Adam and Eve sinned, from a human perspective God could have summarily struck them dead. They had betrayed Him, having been created in His image. A human judge might conclude that they were unworthy of God’s love. But God, being omniscient, already knew they would sin, and He already had a plan in His mind for their redemption and reconciliation to Him. That plan culminated in sending His own Son to the cross as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of all humanity for all time. “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.” (Heb. 2:9).
Jesus did not die just for His friends, He did not die just for people who seemed to be good. He died for the worst of the worst, the most heinous, corrupt and vile of sinners. Paul wrote, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7). As He hung on that cross He bore the sins of all mankind for all time that we could have the opportunity to be counted righteous before God. “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor. 5:21).
Jesus left Heaven and came into this world in human form knowing He had to go to that cross, knowing that He was the fulfillment of God’s grace. “…as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom. 5:21)…
Gary L. Hutchens