Monday, June 29
Apostles' Creed Focus
“He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried, he descended to hell.”
“In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” - Hebrews 9:22
There are moments in our life when we’ve asked, “do we really have to?” In fact, Google’s suggestion box shows that there are many who ask this question about a range of things. Do we really have to wash our groceries before we eat them? Do we really have to fill out the census when it arrives at our house? One even asked, do we really have to bathe every day? The ramifications of these questions are minimal, but there is one along these lines that all of us need to grapple with, did Jesus really have to die?
First, we must understand that the consequence of sin is death. Any unholy act committed against an all holy God requires the just punishment of death and eternal separation from him. Second, we must see that everyone lies under the weight of sin. As Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Lastly, It’s impossible for us to escape this deserved punishment and since all of mankind is sinful, there isn’t a way for any of us to sufficiently atone for the sins we commit. This is why Jesus had to die. He is the single, once-and-for-all, appeasing sacrifice needed for us to be able to be reconciled with God.
He is the perfect sacrifice. Throughout the Old Testament, the people of Israel had to follow a system of sacrifices in order to pay the debt for their sin. The repeated offering of animals was necessary for continual forgiveness. What’s important to see is that this Old Covenant practice was intended to be a symbol that would be seen in the New Covenant that Jesus brought. The shedding of blood has always been necessary, but Jesus’ act on the cross solidified it forever, down to the very last drop. The penalty of sin is death, and Jesus paid that penalty for us.
In light of thinking on Jesus’ death, we really should be left in awe. How loving does one have to be to pay such an enormous debt? How great is God that he would go to such lengths for his children? How do your actions and daily routine change in light of this news? Spend time in prayer today expressing your gratitude for what he has done.
God without your sacrifice, I am left in my sin. I can never thank you enough for paying a debt you didn’t owe for a price I could never pay myself. Please help me remember what you’ve done for me more consistently, as I know I’m prone to wander. Push me to live my life based not out of what you can do for me, but out of what you’ve already done for me. Amen.
Verses for Further Reflection
Ephesians 1:3-10, 1 John 1
When kids ask, “Why did Jesus have to die?” most younger children can grasp a very basic explanation. It might be best expressed this way:
“Everyone, even you, does some wrong things. These wrong things are sin and make God sad. But God loves us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus. Jesus died for us so that we could be forgiven and could be God’s children. Just as you need to tell me you’re sorry when you’ve done something wrong, you need to tell God you’re sorry for doing wrong things and ask Him to forgive you because of what Jesus did. He will. From then on, you are God’s child. And if you do anything wrong after that, you can ask God to forgive you and help you do better — and He will.”
If your older child wonders why the sacrifice of Jesus was necessary, you may want to share the following:
“Why did Jesus have to die? He didn’t have to. He chose to, out of love.
God loves the world. He wants to have with everyone the kind of close relationship He had with Adam and Eve in the very beginning. The only way to do that was to take care of the sin problem. God made people and chose to be their Father. He chose to be responsible for them. Parents pay for what their children break. If parents don’t pay, who will? The child usually can’t. In a similar way, God made Himself responsible to pay for the thing His children “broke” - their relationship with Him. He did this knowing what it would cost because He was a loving Father. If He didn’t pay for it, who could? No one. The punishment for sin is death. Since everyone sins, everyone would have to pay the death penalty. Only someone who was not born sinful could die for others. The only perfect person is Jesus. He defeated Satan and sin when He died and rose again. This is why Jesus is the only way to God.”